"The Winter Olympics; where we learn who is best at all the A-hole rich kid sports" - Julius Sharp
This will be it. The final NHL involvement in the Winter Olympic Games. Mark my words. Why? Business, pure and simple.
Back when the NHLers first competed (Nagano, 1998) the league needed the games for exposure - global branding. That was when Wayne Gretzky was still a player and the Winter Classic had yet to become a thing. It was also when the cycle of awarded Games was about to swing through North America, twice (Salt Lake in ‘02, Vancouver ‘10).
Five Olympics and a couple of lockouts later, the NHL business model has changed, HRR (Hockey Related Revenue) is now king. Shutting down the league for 18 days doesn't produce much HRR. In reality, it costs money. And participating in Olympic Games doesn't drive revenue, nor does it develop the same level of buzz it once did.
Bottom line, the Games have probably worn out their usefulness to the league, and with major security concerns in Sochi coupled with the next Winter Olympiad set for the TV time zone hell of South Korea, the players appetite has most likely waned as well.
This is not to say that elite, NHL/NHLPA sponsored international competition is dead. Far from it. The league and the NHL Players Association just want to profit from it.
Ahhh yes, HRR.
Hence, you will be hearing more and more talk of resurrecting the Canada Cup or World Cup as a for-profit vehicle to have the best players on the planet gather and compete for world supremacy.
Meantime, enjoy the morning action from Russia's 'resort' area in what will be the most expensive Winter Olympics ever. In fact all of the previous WO combined would not equal the cost of Putin's somewhat shambolic Games.
Why so expensive? Because, according to reports, the Russian President's construction and consulting buddies 'got paid'. Which is ironic, since finance is a big reason the NHL and the players are likely to say 'nyet' to future involvement in the Winter Olympic Games.
Of course, I've been wrong before...