The NHL announced earlier today that it will not compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics. The announcement comes a little more than a week away from the first games of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. This has been an issue over the last couple months, with many players having expressed interest in representing their countries at the Pyeongchang Winter Games.
The NHL released a statement about the decision:
“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) as to reasons the Board of Governors might be interested in re-evaluating their strongly held views on the subject. 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.”
Without a doubt, fans and players alike are disappointed. NHL teams would rather keep their schedule consistent, and you cannot fault them for it. Either way, it looks as though some of our favorite players will not be suiting up for their countries.
It will be interesting to see which players get permission from their teams to participate in the Olympic Games. While the NHL will not accommodate their players with a scheduled break, no player is prohibited from playing. It is up to the owners (and possibly the NHL) to give them permission. Therefore, players like Alex Ovechkin may play for team Russia, and take a mid-season break from his NHL team, the Capitals.
On the other-hand, the NHL believes that the players are currently under contract with the NHL, and will remain playing for their NHL franchises during the Olympics. This creates an interesting dilemma, one that will have to be solved come next year.
Keep it tuned here to the Armchair All-Americans for more coverage on who will and will not be playing for their countries in the 2018 Olympic Games.