The men's hockey tournament at the Pyeonchang Winter Olympics has been an unmitigated disaster. Abysmal attendance in the arenas is a direct result of the quality of play on the ice. Where past competitions have been a showcase of the best players in the world, this event has been amateur at best.

The decision by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to not allow NHL players to compete in the Olympics was maddening. Players have been visibly upset as they watch their countries compete for gold without them. Some, like Washington Capitals star Alexander Ovechkin, even called out the commissioner directly.

"Thanks, Bettman," a sheepish Ovechkin said to a reporter who asked if he was enjoying watching the tournament so far.

Crippled rosters

The decision to hold NHL players out of competing in the Olympics had a sizable impact on just about every competing team. Teams like the United States, Canada, Sweden, Finland and the Czech Republic all count on a majority of their roster, if not all of it, comprising of NHL players.

Each team had to find their own way to replace the missing players with good enough replacements to still compete for the gold. In the U.S. there is a deep pool of college hockey talent to fill some of the voids. Several of their top players are drafted NHL prospects who just haven't entered the league yet.

For the European teams, they needed to rely more on plugging in domestic players from their respective professional leagues. These leagues pale in comparison to the talent that is in the NHL.

The end result is you have a team Canada with Chris Kelly as its captain. No offense to Kelly, but he is on the back end of his career and currently playing in the AHL.

The U.S. isn't fairing much better as they had recently retired Brian Gionta serve as their captain.

The stars in this tournament have been anyone who has played in the NHL, even if only for a very limited time. The Czech Republic is leaning on Roman Cervenka, who boasts one season played for Calgary in a limited role.

It's hard to argue that with the assembled rosters full of replacements that the quality of play is anywhere close to where it was in the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Giving Russia the advantage

The worst part of this whole debacle is the decision to keep NHL players out of the Olympics actually benefits Russia as much as it hurts every other country. While the NHL has continued to play its normal schedule, the KHL in Russia has suspended the league in order to focus solely on the Olympics.

Given that the KHL is by and far the top league in the world for hockey after the NHL, it is significant. A number of Russian players have bolted the NHL to return home despite being in their primes for various reasons.

Ilya Kovalchuk had a contract dispute and opted to go back to the KHL. Pavel Datsyuk opted to finish his career at home even though he was still one of the top players in the NHL.

Slava Voynov faced suspension and deportation for a domestic violence arrest so he too fled back to Russia. Vadim Shipachyov signed the first big contract for the expansion Vegas Golden Knights this season, only to leave the team after three games.

These players help form a Russian squad that could compete with a majority of the NHL. Having them play against these amateur squads all but assures that the end of these Olympics will see a Russian gold medal in hockey.

The last time I check though, wasn't Russia banned from competing in these Olympic games?