2022 Beijing Olympics Might Not Be The Right NHL Platform

Is the price right?  

National Hockey League owners and players seem to have different thoughts about participating in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. The players want to go, NHL owners are not sure if it is a good idea. The differences have nothing to do with the Coronavirus or COVID-19. It comes down to money. The NHL and the hockey industry know China is hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics and that is a global platform to sell the product and product merchandise. The NHL has no control of what actually happens in the Olympics other than lending players to put on the show. That is a problem. The NHL has not been able to get promotional pieces from the Olympics to use for league purposes. The NHL did not allow its players to participate in the 2018 South Korea Winter Games because South Korea is not much of a hockey market and the league didn’t see much upside to sending players to South Korea and shutting down its season for a couple of weeks to accommodate the International Olympic Committee. 

In 2017, the NHL did not like what the International Olympic Committee was offering and the players were not interested in reworking the collective bargaining agreement to go to South Korea. But China is a different story. In 2017, the National Hockey League’s staged a pair of pre-season games in Shanghai and Beijing showcasing the product. In a country of more than a billion people, China had just 200 players participating in hockey a few years ago. Now there are more than 12,000 people playing. China wants to be competitive in the 2022 Olympics. China is now entering teams in both the Men’s and Women’s under 20 and under 18 tournaments.  China offers too much money for the NHL owners but the Olympics might not be the platform the owners want.

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman (77) celebrates with the bench after scoring against the Montreal Canadiens during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, March 5, 2020, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)