If the injury suffered by New York Islanders franchise player John Tavares is as bad as some fear it to be, it will absolutely fuel the fires of the NHL owners objection to using NHL players in the Olympics. I believe they only ever agreed to it because the players wanted to do it, and there was a belief that the added exposure would help grow the popularity of the NHL product.
Well the first won’t matter if teams are losing star players because of injuries suffered during games that the owners get no benefit from, and the second never happened. I would expect any agreement to allow for NHL players in 2018 will be fought hard by the owners anyway, but a significant injury to a star player will not help.
For the record, I’ve never really been in favor of the NHL players in the Olympics for similar reasons. Yes, it’s great to watch what amounts to national all-star teams compete at a high level, but injuries are part of the game, as is just some of the players being more worn down after the Olympics than others. Having this tournament in the middle of your season is asking for it to interfere with the integrity of your own regular season. That’s why most leagues have their off season when the World Cup is played. (The MLS being an obviously counter-example, and not in a good way) The impact of what happens during the World Cup is minimized on the club teams that way. If you had the World Cup right before the stretch run of the regular season, it is absolutely going to have an impact on the results.