All signs point to NHL skipping 2018 Olympics
There is little interest among NHL executives to send players to the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the issue was not even on the Board of Governors’ agenda when they met Saturday in Los Angeles, where the league’s All-Star festivities are being held.
“The issue of the Olympics got about 10 seconds of discussion,” Bettman said.
While the NHL has been an Olympic participant since 1998, and most players want to keep playing in the quadrennial event, team owners and officials are not keen on halting the league’s schedule for two weeks. Another “main sticking point is travel and insurance costs, which will no longer be covered by the International Olympic Committee,” the New York Times notes.
Capitals star Alex Ovechkin, per the Times, has said he plans on competing for Russia with or without the NHL’s blessing.
“I think everybody wants to go,” Ovechkin said. “We’re very excited about it. It’s going to be fun.”
Based on the timeline that led to the NHL finally deciding to go to the 2014 Sochi Games, it’s not too late for the league to change its mind. The agreement for Sochi was announced July 19, 2013, less than seven months before the Olympics began.
Bettman has softened his stance that a decision on 2018 had to be made by this January, saying, “We’re not the ones who are setting deadlines,” but a change of thinking among NHL brass will be necessary for the league to participate in its sixth straight Olympics.
“If the status quo remains I don’t expect us to be in the Olympics,” deputy commissioner Bill Daly said, according to Sportsnet.ca.