National Hockey League decision on Olympics regrettable — IOC

Tampa Bay's Anton Stralman got right to the point.

At least one owner, Ted Leonsis of the Washington Capitals, has said publicly that he would allow his stars to play in Pyeongchang, South Korea, regardless of whether the National Hockey League participated. But unless something changes, when the puck drops at the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the world's best hockey players won't be playing. The league decided otherwise.

The league's decision to abandon the South Korea Games comes less than a week after NHL officials, including NHL commissioner Gary Bettman visited Beijing to announce that two preseason games would be played in China by the Vancouver Canucks and the Los Angeles Kings next September. There's still a long time to make a decision. It's become the standard for global competition, and the truest measure of hockey superiority since NHL players were first included in 1998. "A huge opportunity to market the game at the biggest stage is wasted. The IOC feels sorry for the athletes", read an IOC statement.

The committee added that it "distributes 90 per cent of its revenue for the development of sport in the world", and therefore can not offer a national commercial league preferential treatment over non-profit International Sports Federations "which are developing sport globally". However, it's a punishment players might be willing to take. A decent respect for the opinions of the players matters.

All told, Russian Federation could emerge as a massive favorite next year if the NHL's decision doesn't change.

Players immediately blasted the decision. "It's a very cool experience".

Since 1998, the National Hockey League has accommodated worldwide teams with a monthlong hiatus during Olympic years, extending the postseason deeper into summer. Tweet Embed: But most of all, disappointing for all the players that can't be part of the most special adventure in sports. "I'm still going no matter what".

"The Olympics have always been the world's greatest global hockey tournament irrespective of whether professionals or amateurs are playing", an NBC Sports spokesperson said in a statement. "Instead, the International Olympic Committee has now expressed the position that the NHL's participation in Beijing in 2022 is conditioned on our participation in South Korea in 2018", the league said.

"I know Stanley Cup playoffs are competitive but when you get down to a single-elimination tournament, they don't get any more intense, any bigger games, especially if you're playing for a medal".

"It is a pity but it is not a surprise", ski federation president Gian Franco Kasper told The Associated Press.

"That being said, there are great hockey players all over the world. No matter what time zone, or what time it is, passionate fans will watch the game".

"I agree with other players who are disappointed but we have contracts over here", he said.

"Yeah, I didn't change my mind and I won't", the Capitals star said following Tuesday morning's skate at Air Canada Centre, via the Washington Post. But in my mind, like I said already, I'm going. "Everybody wants to go there".

The Olympics have meant so much to Canadian players like Crosby and Jonathan Toews and Carey Price and were something to strive for to young stars like Connor McDavid and Mark Scheifele.

The NHL is made up of 30 teams, and there are so many talented players who certainly would love to play their sport in the Olympics.

In the United States, 73 percent of respondents were not in favour while 53 percent were against in Canada.

"We appreciate their statements and are ready to render suppot, including in legal matters, as we did for other players", he said.

Ted Leonsis has said many times that he'll support whatever decision Ovechkin makes. "On the other hand, you've got the owners paying us a lot of money".

The players' association, the NHLPA, called the decision "short-sighted" and based on owners' attempts to gain concessions on the current collective bargaining agreement in exchange for allowing players to take part.

Players turned that down. "Who are you going to send over there?" But I'm not sure if I'm thinking quite that far ahead yet.

"We obviously have been - and will be - in contact with people on an ongoing basis".

  • Angelo Rivera