Juraj Slafkovsky being named MVP of the Olympics and having the focus put onto him is one of the reasons why the NHL doesn’t need to be in the Olympics. Not only does it give other players a chance to shine, but it allows broadcasts to focus on players who may or may not been given the platform if the NHLers were there to take the focus for themselves.
The last two Olympics have had their ups and down. The European nations have stepped up in a big way, especially those who don’t rely on NHL players to begin with. If the NHLers were to play, who’s to say you have same great stories like you did with Germany in 2018 and Slovakia in these Games?? Those moments for those nations may not have even happened and then pundits perhaps start to rip on the Olympics even having those nations be able to participate because they can’t produce NHLers the way that Russia, Sweden, Canada, the US, and Finland do– so why even include them except to be a whipping boy for those countries??
Personally, the disruption of the NHL season is something that annoys me. Sure, the time of some games are bad, as are the idea of injuries in the Olympics that would affect the season. But going to the Olympics games just breaking up the NHL season for the hell of it kills any momentum teams might have that could actually get them in the playoffs. The NHL is the only major North American league to stop their league for the Olympics. MLB didn’t allow their players on 40-man rosters to play in the 2021 Games due to the threat of injury that could cost teams money if their top players go down and for shutting down the league for two weeks. Which, as the pandemic still rears its head now and again, is a costly measure as it is with local regulations.
Hence, that’s why MLB has the World Baseball Classic and why the NHL has the World Cup of Hockey. Yeah, it’s not for Olympic gold, but you’re representing your country off of the season schedule– so it’s fine. Everything’s fine. It’s not that the International Olympic Committee screws them over for media rights and insurance money or any of that…not at all.
One way to really spice up the hockey in the Olympics if the NHL doesn’t go and people don’t want to send journeymen– make the World Juniors the Olympics every four years. It’s akin to Olympic soccer, which is under-23, and it would make those who are really geeked about their team’s prospects coming up and how they fit on the world stage. Sure, the tournament is mainly a big money maker for Hockey Canada hosting the even every other year, so they won’t like losing that profit– but given the option of seeing that versus the journeymen players we have seen in the past two Games; it could provide a faster game.
The talk of people saying the Olympics needs to be the best taking on the best– but then looking back and speaking fondly about the 1980 US Olympic team– is just noise to me. I don’t need the NHL to be in the Olympics. I have TNT and ESPN+. I can see the best play against the best every night if I wanted. There’s no need for the NHL to be in the Olympics aside from fueling their own egos in thinking that the NHL is the end-all, be-all when it comes to hockey and that if they’re not in it– no one will care about hockey. You know, like how the Hockey Hall of Fame has pretty much turned into the NHL Hall of Fame.