NHL officially closes door on 2018 Olympics

NHL officially closes door on 2018 Olympics

Canada and Sweden play hockey at Sochi Olympics

The NHL released a statement on April 3 saying they have officially decided to not participate in the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Games. 

April 3, 2017

NHL statement regarding 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Games

“We have previously made clear that while the overwhelming majority of our clubs are adamantly opposed to disrupting the 2017-18 NHL season for purposes of accommodating Olympic participation by some NHL players, we were open to hearing from any of the other parties who might have an interest in the issue (e.g., the IOC, the IIHF, the NHLPA, etc.) as to reasons the Board of Governors might be interested in re-evaluating their strongly held views on the subject,” the NHL said in a statement. “A number of months have now passed and no meaningful dialogue has materialized. Instead, the IOC has now expressed the position that the NHL’s participation in Beijing in 2022 is conditioned on our participation in South Korea in 2018. And the NHLPA has now publicly confirmed that it has no interest or intention of engaging in any discussion that might make Olympic participation more attractive to the clubs. As a result, and in an effort to create clarity among conflicting reports and erroneous speculation, this will confirm our intention to proceed with finalizing our 2017-18 regular season schedule without any break to accommodate the Olympic Winter Games. We now consider the matter officially closed.” – NHL.com  

March 2017

Donald Fehr | NHLPA Executive Director

“I’ve been in this business too long to make predictions either on timing or anything else. I think at this point, we have to wait and see how it plays out. I think, however, if we end up not going, the reaction from the players’ side across the board is not going to be a good one. And my guess is it’s going to last for a very long time.” – National Post

René Fasel | IIHF President

“I hope we can find a compromise in the next two or three weeks. We need to know by the end of April if they’re coming, or not.

“If they don’t go to Korea, it will be very difficult for them to go to Beijing [for the 2022 Olympic Games]. The IOC will be in a different position and it would be a totally different deal on the table for the NHL. The NHL has more to lose than to win if they don’t come to PyeongChang. If they don’t come, they will isolate themselves. The fans will not be happy and the players won’t be happy and then I would say, ‘Good luck with negotiations to go to China.’

“In the end, the game of hockey must win, not the NHL, NHLPA or IIHF.” AP

Gary Bettman | NHL commissioner

“There are no negotiations ongoing. We were open to having discussions on a variety of things that might mitigate the damage to our season but that had no resonance. As things stand now people should assume we are not going.” – Reuters 

Max Pacioretty | Captain, Montreal Canadiens – USA

“Everything’s a negotiation for some reason, that’s the world we live in now. I’m not surprised [NHL commissioner Gary Bettman] is saying that, because that’s what you do when you negotiate. But I would expect us to be there. He’s a smart guy. That’s what you do. You never try and fold or give up too much too easily. That’s what smart negotiators do, but players want to go, and we’ve heard rumblings of owners wanting players to go. It’s no surprise. We’ll see what happens, but I expect us to be there.” – Sportsnet

Mike Babcock | NHL Head Coach  Toronto Maple Leafs

“I think it’s really important. I think getting your name on the Stanley Cup is something you dream about, and playing for your country in the Olympics – playing best-on-best – there’s no better event. Just there is none. So to have that opportunity, I think it’s important. I think it’s important to showcase your game every year – just not to pick and choose when it’s your turn and you’d like to go. I think it’s important, but i don’t own any teams.” – NHL.com

Eugene Melnyk | NHL Owner – Ottawa Senators

After Senator’s captain Erik Karlsson expressed his desire to play for Sweden at the Olympics:

“So I’m going to give Sweden my best player at the risk of him being injured. Beating our Canadian team. That doesn’t make sense. Maybe if it was a Canadian going to play for Canada… maybe. But right now it doesn’t make any sense for our franchise, or it’s not fair to our fans, if we were to lose him god forbid in a year like this, to an injury in the Olympics.” – Sportsnet

Gary Bettman | NHL commissioner

“The Olympics, we like the Olympics. We don’t like how disruptive it is to our season, and our first and foremost obligation is to our fans and to put on a competitive season.”

When asked if there is evidence that appearing at the Olympics has had a positive impact on the NHL:

“Certainly in North America it hasn’t any impact. We look at TV ratings, we look at attendance, we look at everything, and it’s been disruptive. It is conceivable that in some places around the world where they’re watching the Olympics it might have a positive impact. I suppose.”

On the promotional restrictions set by the IOC:

“We can’t market or promote that we’re there. We’re just there, and the IOC and the IIHF seem to be of the opinion that we should just be there and whatever it takes, it takes. I’ve said to the IOC, you know Coca-Cola’s a sponsor, they get to promote their association and say ‘proud sponsor of the Olympics.’ They won’t let us do that. And we lend, or would lend, player contracts worth something like $3.5 billion for those 17 days. There’s no recognition of the value by the IOC and the IIHF that we bring to the Olympics. – The Big Show with Rob Kerr & Pat Steinberg (Sportsnet)

René Fasel | IIHF President

“There’s still time, I’m still 50-50. The pressure from the side of the players is getting bigger and bigger, so I hope they will find a solution between the NHL and the NHLPA. The NHLPA should find a way to ensure they shut down the league. I think its a bargaining issue – Gary wants to have something, the only problem is that nobody knows what. They should sit together and find a way.” – Insidethegames.biz

Drew Doughty | Los Angeles Kings – Canada

“It would be awesome to win a third one, we’ve won a few tournaments here lately, and everybody is going to be gunning for us. So it’s going to be that much harder to win, which would make it fun. It wouldn’t be the same with college or minor-league players in PyeongChang. I wouldn’t be watching,” – L.A. Daily News

Patrice Bergeron | Boston Bruins – Canada

“I think it would be disappointing. I think guys want to go. We’ll see how it turns out. I think it’s the biggest sporting event in the world. As an athlete you want to participate. I’ve had two amazing experiences. It’s hard for me to say no to that. I thought it was amazing hockey for fans too, to watch.”  CSNNE

David Backes | Boston Bruins – USA

“Whether I had, or have, a chance to play in another Olympics a year from now I’m not sure, but the Olympics I have been able to participate in have been some of the best times I’ve had playing hockey. Representing my country in doing what I do for a living was exhilarating and one of the proudest moments I’ve had in the game. Whether I’m able to go or not, I think that next generation deserves that opportunity.”  CSNNE

Jakub Voracek | Philadelphia Flyers – Czech Republic

“Absolutely ridiculous. We have it once every four years. I read something that Bill Daly said we’re not going, nobody wants to go. The players want to go. Why are you saying you’re not going? You’re not part of the players’ association. Nobody wants you there. They want the players.”  CSN Philly

Bill Daly | NHL deputy commissioner

“Unless something changes we’re not going. We’ve said that consistently for three months, so there’s nothing new about that.”  The Canadian Press

Gary Bettman | NHL commissioner

“I think the overwhelming sentiment of the teams is that it’s very disruptive on the season, and there is somewhere between fatigue and negativity on the subject. As it stands right now we don’t have an agreement to go and … we’re focused on a schedule that doesn’t include the Olympics. It doesn’t mean that if something dramatic happened at some point in time — obviously that could get too late, but there’s nothing for us to do right now because there is nothing happening.”  AP

February 2017

Hampus Lindholm | Anaheim Ducks – Sweden

“Anytime you get to represent your country, you want to be able to. The Olympics is such a huge event. I think anyone would want to go there, especially a young guy like me. I haven’t really been around that long and that would be a great experience.

“That’s going to be something that’s hard to say no to. Hopefully they can come to some agreement and get it done.”  The Orange County Register

Cam Fowler | Anaheim Ducks – USA

“It’s a whole different animal. It’s not just hockey. It’s the greatest athletes in the world. It’s the greatest spectacle. And the chance to play for your country there around the best athletes in the world makes it a little different than say a World Cup when it’s just hockey. To me, that’s the big difference.”  The Orange County Register

Thomas Bach | IOC President

After meeting with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and IIHF President René Fasel in New York:

“This was a courtesy visit, and there was a very good open and friendly atmosphere. Hopefully this has prepared the ground for successful negotiations between the NHL and International Federation. Of course, we all want to see the best players at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, and we know the players feel the same. Therefore, we hope even more that the International Federation and the NHL will reach a solution to make the Olympic dreams of the players come true.” – AP

Ted Leonsis | NHL Owner – Washington Capitals

“It’s a players’ league. If Alex Ovechkin and Braden Holtby and Nick Backstrom tell us, ‘We want to go play for our country,’ how am I going to say no? I might get fined. I might get punished in some way, but I feel I’m in partnership with Nick and Braden and Alex. It’s a tough decision.” AP

January 2017

John Tavares | New York Islanders – Canada

“You look at the big picture, there are challenges to it. We, as players, love representing our countries. Best-on-best hockey really doesn’t happen very often. Those are things you really enjoy as a player. Team Canada is not an easy team to make. If you get that chance, you want to make the most of it.”  Toronto Star

Taylor Hall | New Jersey Devils – Canada

“I don’t think you should be able to pick and choose what Olympics you go to. That’s not what the Olympics stand for. If you ever talk to anyone who participated in the Olympics, it’s a special place, something that I’d love to be part of. I wouldn’t want it taken away because the NHL didn’t want to go to South Korea. It’s special no matter what.”  Toronto Star

Gary Bettman | NHL Commissioner

Over NHL All-Star Weekend:

“I think when the IOC said, ‘You know what, we don’t think it’s worth it, we’re not going to pay.’ I think that may have opened a whole can of worms.” – The Canadian Press

Jonathan Toews | Chicago Blackhawks – Canada

“I don’t think it’s just about Canadians wanting to go to the Olympics. Every guy at the NHL level wants to represent their country at that level. If you ask me, I don’t think you can really compare it to the World Cup or the world championships. The Olympics are a whole other thing.

“Quite frankly, I think to turn on the Olympics next year and watch hockey teams or the players representing their countries, if it’s not the best in the world, I don’t know. I don’t know. I just feel like we’re misrepresenting our sport on a pretty huge scale and a pretty huge level. A lot of the talk has been it’s the players pushing for it, and it’s the players that are interested and want to go. I think the players do want to go, but I think it should be of interest to the players and the league. I think the NHL should be in the Olympics.”  NHL.com

Connor McDavid | Edmonton Oilers – Canada

“One hundred percent. NHL players should be there. I certainly hope they are there. But ultimately it isn’t up to me. There’s a lot of people a lot higher than me who will make that decision. But 100% they should go. I couldn’t really picture an Olympics without it, to be honest. It would mean everything. Just to get the chance to chase down a spot on the team. Just to have that opportunity. It would be very special. We’re very lucky in Canada to have a long list of great Canadian players who are available. It’s a tough team to make.”  Winnipeg Sun

December 2016

T.J. Oshie | Washington Capitals – USA

“One hundred percent, we should be there. I think it’s just important for hockey. I think it’s our responsibility in the stage that we’re at and the impact that we have on the game. I think it’s our responsibility to play in that tournament and represent our country.” – The Washington Post

November 2016

Sidney Crosby | Pittsburgh Penguins – Canada

“In time we’ll all talk about it and kind of get everyone’s opinion. Right now everyone’s trying to get ideas. Everyone’s trying to see how things would work.

“Ultimately we’ll see if that ends up being the case because the Olympics is a big topic of conversation right now. That’s something that’s being talked about a lot. We’ll see what happens.”  The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

September 2016

Alex Ovechkin | Washington Capitals – Russia

“My decision is the same. So, I don’t know what’s going to happen right now, but we just have to wait what they say and we’ll see. …

“It’s a situation where you don’t know what’s going to happen. But obviously I said I’m going to play.”  ESPN.com

April 2016

René Fasel | IIHF President

“The IOC took the decision not to pay transportation and insurance costs for NHL and NHL players to come to the next Olympic Games. We had a meeting with the NHL last week and the prognosis is not really good. Our wish is to have the best players. Not covering the cost as they did at the last five Olympic Games puts us in a difficult financial situation. We still have challenges – it is even more difficult than before.”  Insidethegames.biz

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