Last night during an interview with Sportsnet, Gary Bettman discussed his decision to not have the league attend the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Bettman was very clear that the league’s announcement was not posturing to get the NHL to the games. The clubs do not want to attend – period. After participating in five different Olympics, the league is no longer interested in shutting down its season in order to let some of its players attend.
“It’s not like we didn’t try to embrace the Olympics, but not only has it not done anything for our game, particularly here in North America, where our franchises play, it’s been damaging to the seasons in terms of the competitiveness, in terms of the compression of the season, (and) injuries to players.”
“If the IOC doesn’t value our contributions, the fact that we lend players with contracts worth over $3 billion and shut down our season at a very important and prime time, when no other sports league would do it, why are we doing this?”
The commissioner also said the league asked for Olympic hockey to be played as part of the summer games.
“We made other suggestions. If the IOC would move the Olympics hockey tournament to the summer, that would be great, we’d be thrilled to have our players participate because then it doesn’t affect our season. … We asked to go to the summer and they said no, and why did they say no, because hockey in terms of hours of programming and the numbers of seats sold to the events is probably too important to the Winter Olympics and their economics. And so, again, nobody is suggesting anything to give the teams a reason to reconsider their position. And that’s okay, because we know the clubs don’t want to go and we weren’t and aren’t looking to renegotiate.”
So it seems that unless the IOC agree to host Olympic hockey during the summer, we will no longer be seeing the NHL superstars play for their country.