The NHL’s future with the Winter Olympics remains uncertain. Ever since the league announced the return of the World Cup of Hockey, the involvement of NHL skaters in the Olympics appeared to be in jeopardy. The World Cup of Hockey is scheduled to take place between September 17th and October 1st in Toronto and it’s clear the NHL is focused on this event and not on the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.
Opinions on whether the NHL should remain involved in the Olympics have been mixed. Some hate the injury risk involved with NHL skaters participating in the Olympics. Some love the competition and how it brings together the best in the world on a grand stage.
Henrik Lundqvist commented on the situation and though he’s looking forward to the World Cup of Hockey, he hopes that the NHL remains a prominent player with the Olympics.
Lundqvist’s comments, via Reuters and as seen on Yahoo:
“It’s the best and biggest stage for hockey. You get people to watch hockey that don’t normally watch. I experience that every time after an Olympics. It’s just a good platform. If you can get Asia more involved in hockey to grow the sport, I think it’s a great opportunity.
Being at the Olympics is just an amazing feeling to have, with all the other athletes there, and the energy that’s there. To see them in action, it’s so inspiring.
I love it, it’s very pure. It’s all about the sport.”
The World Cup of Hockey will likely be a big success, but it won’t be comparable to the Olympics. The Olympics bring casual and even non-fans into the game of hockey. The World Cup of Hockey doesn’t have that type of allure and though it will be a must-see event for hockey fans, it won’t have the same draw to non-fans. Winning the World Cup of Hockey doesn’t have the same prestige as winning a gold medal.
The NHL has been quiet as to what their plans are for the future. They have time and they can wait to see how the World Cup unfolds, but the upcoming Olympics seem like a great opportunity to market the game of hockey – and the NHL – to the other side of the globe.