NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHL owners have slammed the door shut on players participation in the 2018 South Korea Winter Olympics.
National Hockey League training camps open next week although some rookies looking to make teams are hitting the ice starting today. The NHL has the pre-season and regular season schedule locked in and that includes using chartered planes and having hotel reservations around the United States and Canada between now and the start of the Stanley Cup playoffs in April. Canadian owners have bought American dollars. In other words, while sports leagues can change plans on the fly because of natural disasters or other world events, the NHL has buttoned down the logistics for the 2017-18 season. But don’t tell that to the President of the International Ice Hockey Federation Rene Fasel. He seems to think that there is still time to get NHL players to enter the 2018 South Korea Winter Olympics. There is still time for players to get their drug testing information into the World Anti-Doping Agency by the October 1st deadline to participate in the South Korea event.
But Fasel admits it will take a miracle to get the NHL players or even players under NHL contract and assigned to minor league teams onto the Olympics stage. Still Fasel contends the door is open for the players to attend. Here is Fasel’s biggest problem. National Hockey League owners expect the employees, the players, to live up to their contracts and perform solely for franchises that employ them. The NHL is not shutting down the business for two to three weeks and while some players are not happy they are not going to represent their countries their first obligation is to their employers. Even Fasel understands that. The IOC decided not to pay NHL players’ transportation and insurance costs to the Olympics which broke down the negotiations. That was a deal breaker. Hockey will be played in South Korea and by judging by ticket sales or lack of sales, there is not much interest in the Olympics with or without NHL players.
Team USA and Team Canada will not have any NHL or NHL controlled players on the team in South Korea.