In a tiff between the IOC and the NHL the biggest losers are the fans

Well the second week of April not only brings an end to skiing in a lot of places in Canada but also marks the yearly celebration that is the Stanley Cup playoffs. After last year’s weak showing of Canadian teams, we, hockey fans in Canada have much to celebrate this year with five of Canada’s seven teams punching their tickets for the post season. Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto will all test their skill chasing the Stanley Cup. The players, teams, league, sponsors, broadcasters and most importantly the fans have much to rejoice in making the playoffs front and centre on a Canadian stage once again, however during the run-up to the playoffs some dark news threw a shadow over the excitement. This was the announcement by the NHL that there will be no participating in the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang South Korea. The NHL citing concerns over halting their season, injuries to players and being denied status as an event sponsor for compensation has decided to pull the plug on the best-on-best tournament. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said that the NHL cannot expect to just automatically assume participation in China in 2022 if it refuses to participate in 2018, but has not made any attempt to encourage the league’s participation. This announcement has not seemed to change the NHL’s decision even though league president Gary Bettman is very keen to show the game off in China, having announced two exhibition games there later this fall. The players and their union have said they desperately want to participate, with some players such as Washington’s Alex Ovechkin threatening to go regardless of the decision. Many question how this will affect the players involved, their contracts, teams and teammates. Many players have been outspoken about the decision however, when their union was approached by the league to consider extending their Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) in exchange for participation, they flatly refused. This leaves the International Ice Hockey Federation’s (IIHF) president Rene Fasel stuck in the middle begging for compromise. This issue has the potential to cause a major rift between players, teams, management and the union for future negotiations on contracts. With all sides appearing to be blaming each other, this hockey fan thinks that all involved are to blame. The IOC for not providing enough incentive and recognizing how much the league and owners give up to make the tournament happen, the league, players and union for not compromising to find a solution that works. In the end the biggest losers are of course the fans, but hey at least the playoffs are on.

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