The question of this year's Olympics: where in the world are all the NHL players?

They will be at home watching the Olympics just like normal people.

Why?

There are probably many reasons, but these seem to be the big ones: convenience, no real need to be international, and of course money.

Convenience is a big factor. The NHL prefers not to take a month-long break for the Olympics.

February is about the mid-point of the NHL season, and it would cause some disruption in the NHL season, which would affect playoffs.

It could be manageable to do, but it is easiest to keep everything on schedule with no interruptions.

There's also this to think about.

The whole month that star players like Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin would be playing in PyeongChang is a whole month the NHL cannot market its best talent.

Not to mention, these star players run the risk of injury, which would hurt us all.

The NHL may have also wanted to keep its players at home because the league is already invested in its own global outreaches.

Several preseason matchups in Beijing and Shanghai were marked as the China Games this season, and the NHL has games set in Germany, Sweden and Finland in the 2018-2019 season.

The last and biggest reason is an obvious one—money.

Money is always the number one factor with any kind of business deal.

The NHL did not want to lose any money on sending players to the Winter Olympics, plain and simple.

In the past, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) paid for travel, insurance, accommodations, and other costs for NHL players but refused to continue to do so for 2018.

When the IOC reported it would not pay these costs anymore, the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) had proposed to pay up to $20 million in costs and insurance for NHL players in an effort to bring them to PyeongChang.

Unfortunately, the NHL didn't take the generous offer.

To them it is not worth the financial gamble, given the other factors stated above.

With the absence of NHL players in this year's Olympics, anyone can win.

Fans have gotten used to seeing big stars like Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin representing their countries every four years.

This will definitely allow some younger and unknown players to shine on the big stage.

No NHL participation for the first time since 1994 threatens to disturb the traditional world hockey order after Canada has won the past three best-on-best tournaments: the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, 2014 Sochi Olympics, and 2016 World Cup.

As for this year, Russia is thought to be the favorite, since it has former NHL players Ilya Kovalchuk, Pavel Datsyuk and Andrei Markov.

However, Finland could earn its sixth gold medal or Sweden could win for the first time since 2006.

Now, who’s the underdog?

It’s easy to say the host South Korea, debuting its first Olympics men’s hockey team, but let us not leave out Slovenia, Slovakia, Switzerland, Germany and Norway.

Even with the absence of NHL players, ice hockey at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics should capture plenty of drama.

Go U-S-A!