Monday afternoon the NHL announced that its players would not participate in the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, essentially blaming the NHLPA in the process. Reportedly, the Olympic negotiations soured when the NHL asked the Players’ Association to guarantee it would not opt out of the current CBA to participate.
The NHLPA balked at the offer and the NHL moved forward with their decision. Monday night, the NHLPA responded to the NHL and let’s just say it uses a lot of adverbs.
Via the NHLPA’s website:
“The players are extraordinarily disappointed and adamantly disagree with the NHL’s shortsighted decision to not continue our participation in the Olympics.
Any sort of inconvenience the Olympics may cause to next season’s schedule is a small price to pay compared to the opportunity to showcase our game and our greatest players on this enormous international stage.
A unique opportunity lies ahead with the 2018 and 2022 Olympics in Asia. The NHL may believe it is penalizing the IOC or the players, or both, for not giving the owners some meaningful concessions in order to induce them to agree to go to PyeongChang. Instead this impedes the growth of our great game by walking away from an opportunity to reach sports fans worldwide.
Moreover, it is doing so after the financial issues relating to insurance and transportation have been resolved with the IOC and IIHF. The League’s efforts to blame others for its decision is as unfortunate as the decision itself.
NHL players are patriotic and they do not take this lightly. A decent respect for the opinions of the players matters. This is the NHL’s decision, and its alone. It is very unfortunate for the game, the players and millions of loyal hockey fans.”
Several high profile players have already voiced their displeasure in different ways.
Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic tweeted the Pyeonchang Olympics logo.
— Marc-Édouard Vlasic (@Vlasic44) April 3, 2017
Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist called the decision a “huge opportunity… wasted.”
Disappointing news, @NHL won't be part of the Olympics 2018. A huge opportunity to market the game at the biggest stage is wasted..
— Henrik Lundqvist (@HLundqvist30) April 3, 2017
Victor Hedman was “extremely, extremely disappointed. I’m at a loss for words.”
— Joe Smith (@TBTimes_JSmith) April 4, 2017
Meanwhile, Habs goaltender Carey price felt bad for the kids.
What are your thoughts on the NHL skipping the Olympics in 2018?
Carey Price: “I feel it’s very disappointing and I think it’s shortchanging some of the younger players that haven’t had that opportunity. It’s tough to swallow for some of those kids for sure.”
Do you understand the owners’ position?
Carey Price: “It’s dollar signs, I get that. You know, security against injuries and whatnot. But at a human level, this is a big worldwide event that the world participates in and we want to shine our light too.”
Does the World Cup of Hockey compare?
Carey Price: “It’s not the same. Yeah it’s a big event and you’re playing for your country. But it’s the Olympics. You’re not going to replace the Olympics.”
Alex Ovechkin, who has communicated that he’s going to participate regardless of the NHL’s decision, will likely respond during the Capitals’ morning skate Tuesday in Toronto.
While Ovechkin previously had an advocate in Ted Leonsis, NHLPA head Don Fehr believes the owners will now forbid the players from leaving, creating a game of chicken as the Olympic Games approaches.
Sources: NHLPA’s Don Fehr told agent meeting in Vancouver he expects NHL to stop owners from allowing individual players to go to Olympics.
— Rick Westhead (@rwesthead) April 4, 2017
Tuesday morning, Leonsis would not comment on the matter.
Have been told that Caps owner Ted Leonsis won't comment on NHL's Olympic decision for now. Wants the focus to be on the playoffs.
— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) April 4, 2017
Headline photo: Chung Sung-Jun
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