NHL to Olympics: We’re outta here!

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, right, and NHL Player's Association Executive Director Donald Fehr take part in announcing the return of the World Cup of Hockey in 2016 in Toronto, during a news conference at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. International Ice Hockey Federation President Rene Fasel says he had a "good discussion," with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHL Players Association Executive Director Don Fehr about the world's top hockey players participating in the 2018 Olympics, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

The NHL made it official: The South Korea Olympics are a no go.

Commissioner Gary Bettman said NHL owners are not in favor of sending their players to the event mainly because the disruption caused by shutting down the season for two weeks.

Here is the NHL’s official statement:

“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.”

The NHL has participated in every Winter Olympics since 1998.

SB Nation breaks down the situation well:

In previous years, including for the 2014 Sochi Games, the IOC offered to pay insurance and travel costs for NHL players as an appeasement for the league interrupting its season. That offer was not on the table this year, and it’s the main sticking point from the league’s perspective. NHL players, meanwhile, likely won’t be happy with this decision. Several players on the record saying that they will play for their countries regardless of the league’s stance, most notably Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals. Team owner Ted Leonsis has said that he would allow Ovechkin to go, creating an awkward situation for other big name players and their team owners.

The NHL conducted polls in Canada and the United States to determine if fans were in favor Olympic participation. In the United States, 73 percent said they were not in favor. In Canada, it was 53 percent against the break.

Most of the reaction to the NHL announcement on Twitter, however, was quite negative:

 

 

What do you think? Is the NHL making a mistake not participating in next year’s Winter Olympics?

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