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Gary Bettman appeared to misspeak on future NHL participation in the Olympics.
Posted: Tuesday, 18 February 2014 12:35PM

Will the NHL go to Korea? Let's hope

I think there's a typo in this USA TODAY article I'm reading about whether NHL players will participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics, in Korea. Here's the Gary Bettman quote where I think there's an error, see if you catch it too:

"We have made it very clear that the decision that has to be made is a balancing act," Bettman said. "It's not all good. It's not all bad. It has to be balance."

See the typo? I thought you would. Here's, obviously, how it should read.

"OOO MMM GGGGGGGG!," Bettman said. "Are you kidding me? Of course we will be there. The players love it, the fans love it, the hockey is 70 times better than our best regular-season games, um, yeah, we're counting down the days."

Hate to be a grammar cop.

Bettman, in fairness, is the commissioner of the National Hockey League, not curator of Game with Puck on Frozen Pond. His direct interest is his league, not his sport. But of course they go together, and any result but full NHL participation in PyeongChang, South Korea, four years from now would be a travesty.

So the games would be played at inconvenient (for us) times. So the travel is difficult. So some players will get hurt.

So what.

The Olympics are just about the only time when hockey gets non-hockey fans talking except when it's about a cheap shot. The Stanley Cup Finals don't even register outside the sport anymore, except for the hard-to-hear "Oh, hockey's over?". The other Winter Games events have their moments, but there are far fewer sports here than in the Summer Games, leaving room for hockey to take the spotlight. It did so in 2010, and it already has done so this year.

NHL, don't let us down.

Hockey's -- sorry, the NHL's -- greed and disconnect with fans are both frustrating and familiar. Higher-than-ever prices, offensively challenged games, canceled seasons, erratic-if-not-hilariously bad attempts at discipline, and so on.

The NHL is the only league where you can rank lockouts.

Some owners, probably, see the Olympic break as an annoying obstacle, a 16-day hiatus that puts a crimp in the schedule and team revenues. In Olympic years NHL seasons have to be compacted even more than they are, and the logical result is relatively fewer games with the players at top form. Many games are a drag.

It is not my assertion that NHL games should be of Olympic quality. But, these high-quality games do exist as long as the NHL allows them to, and as far as fans go with the Olympics there is no going back. Imagine in 2018 a U.S. team of college players. Really?

The NHL, and Bettman, should see it now as their duty to participate. Figure out the terms later, but when Bettman gets the question now of whether or not we'll see the NHL at the Olympics in 2018 he should answer it the way I laid out before, or, perhaps better, by saying this:



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Locations : Pyongyang
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