While the best players in the NHL will be kept on the sidelines, CBC Sports’ Tim Wharnsby is reporting that American Hockey League players will be allowed to participate in the 2018 Olympic Games held in Pyeongchang, South Korea
The NHL has decided to allow AHL players under two-way NHL contracts to compete in the Olympics under the condition they only be released for the Pyeongchang Games in February.
In a memo sent to the 31 NHL teams this week, the league outlined AHL players can be loaned to national teams for the 2018 Olympic Games. But these players only can be made available between Feb. 5-26, 2018. The Winter Olympics men’s hockey tournament begins on Feb. 9 and concludes with the gold-medal final on Feb. 25.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press’s Stephen Whyno disputed part of Wharnsby’s report.
President and CEO David Andrews confirmed through a league spokesman Wednesday that teams were informed they could loan players on AHL contracts to national teams for the purposes of participating in the Pyeongchang Olympics.
The AHL sent a memo to its 30 clubs saying players could only be loaned for Olympic participation from Feb. 5-26.
The AHL’s decision does not affect players assigned to that league on NHL one- or two-way contracts. No final decision has been made about those players.
Whyno spoke to NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly, who denied that the NHL was the entity who sent out the memo. He clarified that the AHL did so at the direction of the league’s board of governors.
In April, the AHL’s David Andrews spoke to Sportsnet 590 The Fan about the potential impact the Olympics would have on the league.
“I would think there will be quite a call on our league, particularly from the United States national team program and also from Hockey Canada,” Andrews said. “We have the best players from those countries that aren’t in the National Hockey League.
“What I think will happen is that I think it will be left to each individual National Hockey League general manager to make the decision as to whether he wants to reassign players from the AHL to the Canadian or US or another national team.”
Andrews also clarified that the AHL would not shut down during the Olympic break like the NHL usually does.
“I think it would hurt our league over that competitive period if we lost 40 or 50 players, it doesn’t help,” Andrews said. “But certainly from a branding point of view, perhaps it will help to get the exposure these players will get. It’s a good experience for the players. But I don’t think it’s a slam dunk that every NHL GM is going to be willing to give up their top prospects for three weeks and not have them available to the NHL club at the time.”
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