Now that we're into the home stretch of the 2014 Olympic hockey tournament it's time to start looking ahead to the 2018 tournament and everybody's favorite talking point -- will the NHL be back?
All of the key decision makers were talking about it on Tuesday, and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman seemed to echo the timeframe deputy commissioner Bill Daly mentioned last week when he talked about a decision coming down sometime over the next six months. Bettman made it clear, however, that it is not something that will be discussed while the games in Sochi are taking place, while adding that he did not want to get into the pros and cons of NHL participation, noting that they have already been repeatedly discussed.
Daly, however, had some interesting things to say about those pros and cons, via Nick Cotsonika of Yahoo! Sports.
Daly: "For the clubs individually the Olympics have no tangible positive effect." No increased ticket sales or TV ratings.— Nick Cotsonika (@cotsonika) February 18, 2014
Daly said the positive is the visibility of the sport and the NHL in the big picture.— Nick Cotsonika (@cotsonika) February 18, 2014
Daly: "Given all the pros and cons, we made a determination that on balance it was more positive to be here than negative."— Nick Cotsonika (@cotsonika) February 18, 2014
This is the fifth time the NHL has participated in the Winter Olympics, appearing in every one since the 1998 games in Nagano, Japan. The 2018 games will be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Bettman also said that none of the decision making process moves forward if the players do not want to play, adding that if the players ever said they did not want to go the league would never make them.
The NHL involvement in the Olympics seems to be a success among players and fans alike, but it's easy to understand why owners and executives (such as Philadelphia Flyers owner Ed Snider) would have some concerns, not only because the season gets shut down for a few weeks, but also because of the risk of injury to a key player.
Along with future Olympic talk, Bettman also mentioned the possibility of bringing back the World Cup of hockey, while Daly and NHLPA leader Donald Fehr mentioned the possibility of having both the World Cup and NHL participation in the Olympics.
The World Cup was last played in 2004.