The Hidden Side of Olympic Hockey-The Insurance Bill
Why is there always a controversy of whether or not to send our NHL players to play in the Olympics?
Every Olympiad the controversy seems to continue, National Hockey Players playing in the Olympics. The NHL team owners strongly dislike it, and why wouldn't they? They're investment in these players is to help them win their teams a Stanley Cup, not an Olympic gold. From NHL.com Gary Bettmen says he may have an answer on 2018 in the next six months.
A difficult decision no doubt, Commissioner Bettman reminded journalists that at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, approximately 60-70% of the ticket sales, other than the opening and closing ceremonies, were for hockey. The NHL does have some bargaining power with those kinds of numbers. Still, the National Hockey League doesn't see a measurable benefit from having their player play in the Olympics. And as a prime example is what happened to John Tavares in Sochi. Garth Snow (General Manager for the New York Islanders, Mr. Tavares's team) told a reporter from Newsday, "Are the IIHF or IOC going to reimburse our season-ticket holders now? It's a joke, they want all the benefits from NHL players playing in the Olympics and don't want to pay when our best player gets hurt."
Snow along with other other owners in the league disagree with the decision and believe the NHL players shouldn't be premitted to participate on behalf of their respective countries. In the past, the pressure from the public, IOC, and the players themselves have granted us faithful hockey fans an international hockey delight. It comes at a price though.
The hidden cost of NHLer's in the Olympics
What the public doesn't see are the insurance policies that have to be written so these superstars can lace up the blades in another country for two weeks. If you noticed, before the Sochi Olympics, the Canadian Mens hockey team actually didn't put equipment on and have a legitimate practice, they simply ran around with shorts, shoes, a stick and ball. Why? Just to get these folks insured for a few non-contact practices it would cost approximately $1 million. In 2009 Hockey Canada paid $400,000 so our boys in red could have a couple skates before the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. But this year Hockey Canada wasn't so eager to fork over the cash. The team thought for that kind of money it would be much wiser spent on grassroots hockey programs. This author would agree.
The Canadian mens team didn't skate together on the ice before heading over to Russia. You could hardly say wouldn't be ready to play, I mean these folks are all superstars at hockey. The team chemistry would be the one major attribute lacking but there's nothing like a good ol' ball hockey game with the neighborhood fellas to create some positive comrodrie.
The major jump in insurance premiums is due to the fact that in 2010 Canada's roster totalled roughly $875 million in contractual obligations to the players. In 2014, the contractual obligations are closer to $1.2 billion. It's costing us more and more to put together the dream team.
So what was the total cost for the Olympics to still have NHL Players play in it?
Two different sources both quoted $8 million to insure the NHL players in the Olympics, a bill the IOC will end up paying. They were adamant about not covering the insurance cost of pre-olympic practices in their respective countires. Hence why both the Canadian and USA hockey teams didn't skate during their first practice as a team leading up to the beginning of Sochi.