NHL announced on Monday, April 3rd, 2017, that their players will not be participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea according to usatoday.com.
Commissioner Gary Bettman has said in the past months that the owners were against Olympic participation for many reasons. Among them was the 17-day break in February, stated NHL.com.
In the United States, 73 percent of fans stated that they were not in favor and in Canada 53 percent were against the break, according to NHL.com.
“I think the overwhelming sentiment of the teams is that it’s very disruptive in the season and there is somewhere between fatigue and negativity on the subject,” stated Commissioner Bettman, reported usapost.com.
International Ice Hockey Federation President Rene Fasel stated, “The indicated and the federation had the money to cover those costs, but Commissioner Bettman said there was a concern the funds would come from assets that would otherwise be used to grow the game at the grassroots level”, according to washingtonpost.com.
Commissioner Bettman stated, “Many teams have been concerned about the impact of the Olympic participation has on the NHL season in terms of player injuries and the compressed schedule created by the break in February”, reported washingtonpost.com.
The National Hockey League Players’ Association stated,“The players are extraordinarily disappointed and adamantly disagree with the NHL’s shortsighted decision to not continue our participation in the Olympics”, stated nhlpa.com.
Washington Capitals forward Alexander Ovechkin has stated, “There’s nothing the NHL can do to stop me from playing for Team Russia,” and Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis responded by saying, “I would not stand in the way of the players if they wanted to go,” reported foxsports.com.
In the 2014 Sochi Olympics, the NHL paid $14 million for the player’s insurance, travel, and housing costs. The NHL would not agree to cover those costs again in the 2018 South Korea Winter Olympics, stated foxsports.com.