Beginning in 1998 with Nagano, the Olympic hockey tournament featured NHL players. At the time, nobody was watching the NHL, which was mired in the Dead Puck Era. A deal with the Olympics made sense. The NHL needed the exposure, and the Olympics needed the talent. It was a match made in heaven.
But now, with the NHL experiencing a relative boom in popularity and profit, the league has barred its players from going to South Korea to participate in the Olympics. The move didn’t sit well with the players, but from a league standpoint it makes sense to keep your most prized assets from traveling around the world in the middle of their season.
The Russian-based KHL, unlike its North American counterpart, is taking a 33-day break in order to allow its players to participate in the Olympics. So it is no surprise to see that the non-disgraced athletes from Russia are the clear favorites to take home the gold.
Let’s go country-by-country and find some wagers to make for the hockey slate ahead.