NBC’s shot at projected strong viewership for this winter’s Olympic hockey tournament ended on May 29, 2017, when the NHL announced that its players would not be allowed to participate. Nine months later, the Olympic group stages are through, and NBC is indeed suffering from an absence of hockey stars. In an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch published Monday, NBC Sports chairman Mark Lazarus acknowledged that Olympic hockey’s viewership is down significantly from this point four years ago. SI: How much has hockey viewership been hurt by the NHL players not being there? Lazarus: A bit. It is early in the men’s tournament and we have not seen the big games yet but we are off roughly in the high 20s or low 30s. It has been affected. The [broadcast] windows are pretty similar so it is close to an apples to apples comparison. Listen, I think it is bad for hockey everywhere. Our numbers are off and if you look at the RSN numbers for every NHL team over this week-long period, at least when I looked at it, all but two teams were off versus a year ago in this window. So it is not good for anybody’s hockey ratings. The drop in ratings for Olympic hockey is certainly no shock, but it nevertheless underscores the extent to which viewers tune in to see stars on the hockey side. Sure, the Olympics are a time to appreciate lesser known athletes, but most fans simply won’t be as geeked about Ben Scrivens and Igor Shestyorkin as they would be about Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin, no matter what the front of the jersey says.