The NHL announced Monday night that the league will not allow its players to appear in the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in South Korea. The issue has been a subject of discussion for months now, and the NHL officially put it to rest. The NHL said this about the matter on NHL.com
“We have previously made clear that while the overwhelming majority of our clubs are adamantly opposed to disrupting the 2017-18 NHL season for purposes of accommodating Olympic participation by some NHL players, we were open to hearing from any of the other parties who might have an interest in the issue (e.g., the IOC, the IIHF, the NHLPA, etc.) as to reasons the Board of Governors might be interested in re-evaluating their strongly held views on the subject,” the NHL said in a statement. “A number of months have now passed and no meaningful dialogue has materialized. Instead, the IOC has now expressed the position that the NHL’s participation in Beijing in 2022 is conditioned on our participation in South Korea in 2018. And the NHLPA has now publicly confirmed that it has no interest or intention of engaging in any discussion that might make Olympic participation more attractive to the clubs. As a result, and in an effort to create clarity among conflicting reports and erroneous speculation, this will confirm our intention to proceed with finalizing our 2017-18 regular season schedule without any break to accommodate the Olympic Winter Games. We now consider the matter officially closed.”
NHL players, rightfully, are angered by the decision. They want to play for their country, in the Olympics, not the World Cup. The opportunity to win for your country is like no other. And being told they cannot is not something many players will accept. Alex Ovechkin is one who made it clear he will not accept the decision, saying he will be playing in the Winter Games.
Comments courtesy of CBC Sports:
“I think everybody wants to play there. It’s the biggest opportunity in your life to play in the Olympic Games,” Ovechkin told reporters in Toronto today. “Somebody going to tell me I don’t go. I don’t care, I just go.”
This situation could become out of hand. If Ovechkin and other players go, it would be a breach of their contract. There is nothing in the CBA that say she players have a right to go. But will that stop them?
The NHL does not plan on negotiating anymore and consider the matter over, but it seems the situation is just getting started.