The decision to award Beijing the 2022 Winter Games has changed the landscape in terms of the way a lot of NHL people are looking at Olympic participation.
There still haven’t been any meaningful discussions with the IOC, however it’s fair to say the odds of going to South Korea and Beijing are now better, the idea being a decade-long investment in Asia for the sport. The NHL owners can still say no, and the IOC under new leadership can also jam things up if it doesn’t play ball.
This is so small issue. The IOC, for example, has picked up player insurance costs in the last few Olympics. It’s believed that was to the tune of around $6 million in Vancouver in 2010 and around $9 million to $10 million in Sochi in 2014. You’re looking at around $14 million or so perhaps for South Korea in 2018. Will the IOC still pony up?
But certainly you sense more of a willingness now NHL-wise to go, all things being equal, because of the opportunity in Asia.
It’s also why the NHL delayed having official meetings or negotiations on future Olympic participation until the 2022 Games were awarded. The league needed to know what was at play.
Meetings have now been officially planned, finally. In the next several months, the league and NHLPA will meet with the IIHF to get the ball rolling.