It was suggested to me by an amateur hockey expert that the several major injuries to NHL players in this Olympic tournament, such as Zuccarello and Tavares, will cause the league owners to stop allowing their players to play in the Olympics. I believe that would be a bad idea for several reasons.
With the waning popularity of hockey in the US, going back to unknown amateur players would kill the US TV ratings for Olympic Hockey, and hurt the NHL in a round about way.
It may cause some countries, such as Russia, to go back to not allowing their best players to play in the NHL, not as an "official" embargo, but as players being "encouraged" to play in home-country leagues such as the flourishing KHL, in exchange for being allowed to represent their country on the world's biggest stage. Russia did that for most of the 20th Century, pitting their "professional" National Team against everyone else's college kids.
I'm not saying NHL owners care about NBC's Olympic ratings, but the IOC does, and should fight to keep big-name players or threaten to drop hockey from the Winter Games, as the Summer Olympics did to baseball.
The only angle for the NHL owners is that patriotism sells in America. Team USA tends to ignite interest in the sport, which then increases the ratings and revenues for NHL teams and the league itself.
What the NHL currently has is dedicated hockey fans. They will always be there. But they are all that the NHL has, which is the problem. Attracting casual fans increases ratings, revenue, interest, and exposure for the league and each team. More Americans watch Olympic Hockey than NHL Hockey. More Americans are "patriotic" towards teams in red, white, and blue than are dedicated to an NHL team.
While I understand why NHL owners do not want to risk their investment in their players in games outside of league play, Olympic Hockey benefits the NHL as much as NBC and the IOC, and games featuring the world's greatest athletes in their sport are more exciting to watch. When I watch the Olympic Hockey Tournament, I want to watch NHL Hockey and buy NHL 14 for PS3. How about you?
©2014 Denim McDemus