The NHL will skip the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang.
The decision has been looming for a while, but it still stings a bit for fans who enjoy the international game.
As per usual, Greg Wyshynski has a comprehensive piece on the subject, but there’s one point I’d like to highlight:
“The owners didn’t really care about PyeongChang. The games won’t be played in a time zone that works well for North American audiences – 7 p.m. in South Korea is 6 a.m. in New York. It’s not fertile soil for hockey like they see in Beijing. If they had their druthers, they’d rather sit out 2018 to skip ahead to 2022.”
Whether China is an overwhelmingly different market for the league is a delicate discussion.
Although both nations are integral parts of East Asia (something I knew without checking Wikipedia, I promise), there are cultural and economic differences. China is especially ripe for the NHL, as the professionalization of team sports is still new.
The tournament format could take any number of directions, from fully amateur to age restricted to something resembling the 1994 Winter Olympics. Those games, played in Norway, were the first to feature professional players, including Vancouver Canucks holdout Petr Nedved.
I just really don’t want to deal with this shit every four years. I don’t care what emerging markets or time zones are at play. Just give us the hockey and latent jingoism that makes getting drunk at 5 a.m. less sad.