National Hockey League not going to 2018 Olympics in South Korea

Henrietta Brewer
April 5, 2017

With NHL's decision, star players like Sidney Crosby, who helped Canada clinch gold medals in 2010 and 2014, was set to skip the 2018 edition, while some Russian players in NHL still hoped to feature in Pyeongchang despite their clubs' concern.

While the IIHF had agreed to pay for players' travel and insurance costs when the International Olympic Committee refused, the National Hockey League had been looking for more concessions that were believed to be tied to marketing opportunities tied to the Games. We now consider the matter officially closed.

From Alex Ovechkin and Jonathan Toews to Connor McDavid and Henrik Lundqvist, the world's best players called playing in the Olympics important. Instead, McDavid could be at the start of the global path followed by another Oilers captain whose career already bears several happier parallels to his own: Wayne Gretzky played internationally only eight times, appearing in four Canada Cups and one World Cup.

"It is crap. That's pretty much what I think", said Karlsson, the Ottawa Senators captain and a silver medallist for Sweden in 2014. "It's so idiotic. Whoever did this has obviously no idea what they are doing". Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk, who represented the United States in Sochi, said he didn't think players should give up anything to go in 2018. It's obviously a decision that the National Hockey League felt they had to make.

Capitals defenceman Kevin Shattenkirk and goalie Braden Holtby have expressed similar sentiments but stopped short of saying they would defy the league order.

"We grow up like this to play in the Olympics, win a Stanley Cup and an Olympic gold medal", Tarasenko said. We will see if it actually happens now that they say we're not going.


"But we'll see. It's not in my hands. Maybe they will let us go".

The decision will impact nearly every major hockey-playing nation with the Swedish, Finnish, Russian, United States and Canadian teams nearly entirely comprised of NHL representatives. What would that rule look like and how would teammates react if the likes of Ovechkin and Kuznetsov bolted is another matter.

Whiffen doesn't directly represent any current players, but he provides advice to many player agents and coaches.

"It was probably the biggest honor of my life being picked for that team, just alone", Duchene said.

Skipping out on the 2018 Olympics might cost National Hockey League athletes the chance at participating in 2022. "My vote is if I get a chance to go, I would like to go". "I would love to play for U.S. Hockey again in the Olympics, but if it's not in the cards, I don't think next year I'm going to leave my team or anything like that". "I'd love to have a business model like that".

"It's a situation where you don't know what's going to happen".


For many it was the patriotic opportunity on the grandest global stage that was too alluring to pass up.

That Leonsis backs Ovechkin may not be enough, as it's rumored the League could take additional action to prevent this from happening despite support from select ownership.

The IIHF's Lichtner predicted that others players could follow.

Best on best is certainly preferable but it's the stage that makes the games so exciting and not just the players.

The NHL is taking a pass on next year's Winter Olympics in South Korea. It remains hard to see the league ultimately spurning that opportunity, though what changes the equation is still a mystery. "It just seems like it comes down to what can they get out of us when the next (collective bargaining agreement) negotiation rolls around".

USA Hockey officials wanted NHL players to go, but they knew this outcome was a real possibility.


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