Bettman: Debate Expected Regarding NHL’s Olympic Participation

In talking to reporters in Calgary on Thursday, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told the throng that there was no “leaning one way or the other” in regards to the participation of the National Hockey League in the Olympics in 2014.

At this moment, the NHL is not slated to participate in the Olympics in Sochi. Bettman implied that there would be no decision coming anytime soon, adding that he expects a heated debate on the matter as it reaches the players.

“Every time I discuss the pluses and minuses and I articulate what the minuses are people say, ‘Oh, well they’ve made up their mind – they’re not going,”‘ Bettman said.

Bettman said that the goal is to do what is best for the NHL. While players want to represent their countries, there is also a professional league to run. A two-month break is a considerable one, of course, and the host of competitive issues that could arise from a player’s Olympic participation always raise eyebrows.

What if a player like Alex Ovechkin is injured in Olympic competition, for instance?

“I know the players are passionate about representing their countries – we have a long history as a sport in international competition and that’s something that’s important to the players. But we have to decide, on balance, is it worth it?” said Bettman.

There is also the question of coverage. Bettman noted that publicity at Olympic events in Vancouver or Salt Lake would greatly benefit the selling of the game in those markets, but that other non-NHL market locations hosting Olympic events would not offer the same benefits. It should be noted here that if anyone knows about non-NHL markets, it’s Bettman…

All sarcasm aside, there most likely will be considerable debate about NHL players participating in the Olympics. There’s no question that the game is most exciting when the best players are playing it, but there’s also no question that there are risks involved with players in the Olympics.

Posted by Jordan Richardson.

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