Citius, Altius, Fortius.
In case you don’t speak Latin, the translation is: “Higher, Faster, Stronger.”
Also known as the motto of the Olympic movement.
Every two years, the Olympic Games provide an opportunity for the greatest athletes in the world to compete against one another.
The only problem is, with the NHL’s decision not to send players to the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, the league just ensured that won’t happen.
All afternoon, hockey fans from around the world have condemned the decision as a ploy from greedy owners looking out for their bottom line, and not fan entertainment.
After all, these will be the first Winter Olympics not to feature NHL All-Stars since 1994.
Owners came out against player participation for obvious reasons. Cutting the NHL season two weeks short, cuts into their profits.
No games, no money.
Adding to their concerns, was the worry, at a moment’s notice, one of their star moneymakers could suffer a career ending injury; doing irrefutable harm to the franchise they own.
Granted, Alex Ovechkin or Sidney Crosby could suffer that same injury in a game next February, or even tomorrow for that matter.
Like fans, players have expressed their disappointment in the decision they won’t be going to South Korea.
New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist took to Twitter.
Former Vancouver Canucks left wing, Brandon Prust, went even further, directing his frustration at long embattled NHL Commissioner, Gary Bettman.Bettman, long the scapegoat of league quandaries, including the decision to award a franchise to Arizona, over cooler climate-prototypical hockey locations — including Quebec City, will have a hard time explaining this to fans and players. The question now becomes, how long until NHL stars return to the Olympics?
Washington Capitals left wing Alexander Ovechkin already has an answer: 2018.
Ovechkin has made it clear, regardless of the decision, he intends to play for Team Russia in PyeongChang.
Will other players follow suit?
Well, is a the chance for an Olympic gold medal worth the fines and lost game checks you’ll accumulate during two weeks of Olympic competition?
The likely makeup of national teams, now falls to those who competed at the World Junior Championships in Canada in January, and recently retired/minor league players.
Simply put, the best in the world won’t represent their country at the Olympics.
This cannot make Olympic broadcasters, especially CBC and NBC, very happy right now.
It costs billions to air the Olympics, and ever since it first broadcast the Games from Tokyo in 1964, NBC has had to diversify its viewership platforms.
There is now an NBC Olympics App, and the Games are broadcast across networks owned by parent company Comcast, including USA, NBCSN, Bravo and Universal Sports HD.
When the United States played Canada in the semifinals of the men’s ice hockey tournament at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, NBC Sports Network scored its highest rating ever for a hockey game.
For a network to secure ratings like this again, and have their billion dollar investment pay off, NBC needs NHL stars to participate.
Advertising revenue, which is largely how NBC makes its money back, won’t be the same without the likes of Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin.
Why should Coca Cola spend the same on a thirty-second ad during a game that features junior all-stars instead of NHL elites?
Does Pepsi pay the same in advertising during a Browns-Jaguars game as it does during the Super Bowl?
I don’t think so.
So today’s decision that will keep most, if not all NHL players, from competing in PyeongChang, has far-flung and long-lasting ramifications, beyond just fan disappointment. The consequences of which, we’ll only know after the Olympics next February.