The 2018 Winter Olympics are nearly in the rearview mirror, but there’s still plenty to talk about regarding the lack of NHL players in men’s hockey
After the Chicago Blackhawks dropped another game Saturday, this time to Columbus, most people flipped to the epic gold medal men’s hockey game. The gold medal game between Germany and the Olympic Athletes from Russia made for some exciting Winter Olympics television.
As everyone is keenly aware, NHL players were not allowed to play in this Olympic games, so the best players in the world were not playing for their respective countries. Instead, countries got players from other professional leagues around the world.
With NHL players not allowed to play in the Olympic games, the “country” that benefited the most was the Olympic Athletes from Russia. OAR had gotten all of it’s players from the second-best hockey league in the world, the KHL.
The OAR featured players that could still be playing in the NHL, but just chose to return home to play hockey. There team boasted Pavel Datsyuk, Ilya Kovalchuk and Slava Voynov, all three of whom could be still playing in the NHL.
No surprise OAR team won
So when the OAR team won the gold medal Saturday night, it was not surprise for this Olympics. They had the best team going in. The sports books gave them 2-to-1 odds to win the tournament.
They benefited because NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman did not want to take a two-week break from the NHL season. Bettman should have handed the Russians their medals last night in Pyeongchang.
The Russian team had not won a gold medal since 1992. Since NHL players were allowed to play in 1998, Russia has a silver medal in 1998 at Nagano, bronze in 2002 at Salt Lake City and that’s it. Their best finish since 2002 was a fourth-place finish in 2006 at Turin.
Canada was the biggest loser
With Russia being the biggest winner in these Olympics, as far as men’s hockey goes, Canada might have been the biggest loser.
That’s right, the bronze medal winner was the biggest loser in this Olympics. The Canadians had won the gold medal in the Olympics in 2002 at Salt Lake City, 2010 at Vancouver and 2014 at Sochi. Their team would have been the favorite by far with NHL players, featuring a lineup that included Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid, John Tavares, Steven Stamkos, Taylor Hall and Jonathan Toews among others.
This would have crushed the Russian team and all other competitors. The USA team might have given them a game. Their lineup would have featured Auston Matthews, Jack Eichel, Johnny Gaudreau, Patrick Kane and many others.
Bettman let the Olympics give us the great story of Germany making the gold medal game and the Russians winning their first medal since 2002.