NHL players are unhappy their league won’t take a break in February so they can participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics.
With all due respect, they shouldn’t have been there anyway. The Olympic ideal of being an arena for the world’s best amateurs has been corrupted for decades. It started with state-run programs paying athletes to train and compete full-time. It culminated with Russia’s hockey team in the 1970s and 1980s, which consisted of players who were being paid to be members of the nation’s Red Army. They were pros masquerading as amateurs; they dominated the Winter Olympics.
Now even the world’s best amateurs in swimming and track are well-paid millionaires. The whole charade ended with the Dream Team, when the National Basketball Association allowed its best players to represent the United States in the 1992 Olympics. Only once in six Summer Olympics since has the U.S. not won gold. Canada was trying to do the same thing in hockey.
The Olympics are so big they have consumed amateur athletics, but it looks like hockey is going back to its roots.