The NHL announced on Monday that it will not be sending players to the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
In a statement, the league argued that the three-week break for the games would not be a worthwhile interruption, a nod to the money that would be lost during the break.
While US Hockey and Canada Hockey still plan to field teams to send to the games, NHL players were not happy with the decision.
New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist called the news “disappointing,” saying the league is missing an opportunity to market the game abroad.
Other players were less even-keeled with their words. Former Toronto Maple Leafs forward Brandon Prust was a bit more direct toward Gary Bettman.
Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson ripped the decision (via ESPN).
“I don’t understand the decision. We have no say in the matter, it’s very unfortunate for the game of hockey around the world that they’re going to do this to the sport. I think it’s going to hurt a lot if we don’t end up going. Whoever made that decision obviously had no idea about what they’re doing.”
San Jose Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic didn’t need words.
Sidney Crosby also called the situation “disappointing,” saying he had hoped the league could work something out with the IOC or NHLPA.
According to ESPN, the NHL had been hoping to strike a deal with the IOC, which offered to pay for travel and insurance for NHL players, or the NHL Players Association to make some concessions in the collective bargaining agreement, but nothing materialised.
Others, however, are less concerned. Alex Ovechkin said he still plans on going.
“Yeah, I didn’t change my mind,” Ovechkin said. “I’m still going.” According to ESPN, players are expected to have to fulfil their contractual obligations to their teams, but Capitals owner Ted Leonsis said he would support Ovechkin’s decision to play in the Olympics.
The situation may not be over yet. Chris Johnson of Sportsnet reported on Monday that there are rumblings that the decision has not been finalised, despite what the league says.
If there is no reversal, however, the NHL can expect some unhappy players, which won’t make future CBA negotiations any easier.
But most of all, disappointing for all the players that can’t be part of the most special adventure in sports..
— Henrik Lundqvist (@HLundqvist30) April 3, 2017
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