The NHL announced on Monday it will not participate in the 2018 Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The league first took a break during it’s season to allow its player to play in the Olympics for the 1998 Nagano Games.
“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,” 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 owners seem uninterested in having their season stopped in the middle while its players risked injury, especially for an Olympics in a time zone 13 hours ahead of eastern time. Players surely will be disappointed with the decision as they take great pride in representing their countries on a world stage.
On Monday afternoon, Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist tweeted "Disappointing news, @NHL won’t be part of the Olympics 2018. A huge opportunity to market the game at the biggest stage is wasted."
He added: "But most of all, disappointing for all the players that can’t be part of the most special adventure in sports."
While the NHL won’t take a recess for the Olympics, some of its players may try to play in the Games regardless. Capitals star Alex Ovechkin has previously stated his desire to play for Russia in the Olympics no matter what, and club owner Ted Leonsis said he’d support Ovechkin. If other Capitals players want to play as well, however, would he be comfortable playing several NHL games without about a handful of players?
On the flip side, Senators owner Eugene Melnyk said he wouldn’t allow star defenseman Erik Karlsson to play for Sweden if the NHL decided not to participate because of the potential injury risk.