If you were still holding out hope that the NHL would allow its players to play in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, it’s probably time to let go.
The NHL has released the following statement regarding the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. pic.twitter.com/nqjYtsLHew— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) April 3, 2017
Back in April, a report came out that said the NHL wouldn’t be participating in the 2018 Olympics largely because owners weren’t interested in having the season disrupted for a few weeks as we saw in 2006, 2010, and 2014. But because of backlash from players, fans, and the obvious possibility for growing the sport in a massive market like Asia, many still hung on to a glimmer of hope that the league would change its mind.
Hope was always pretty bleak after that statement in April was released, but it’s likely been all but squashed at this point.
First, over the weekend, Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly confirmed that players with NHL contracts, including those in the AHL and ECHL, would not be allowed to participate in the Olympics. So if you aren’t a part of the NHL registry, you can play for your country.
As lame as it sounds, that makes sense if the NHL is going through with this whole thing. I mean, it’s pretty difficult to tell a middling player on the big club he can’t live his Olympic dream only to have a teammate who happened to be put through waivers in January go play in Pyeongchang.
Regardless, the fact that the league is hammering down rules as specific as this one would insinuate that they aren’t backing out of this decision now.
Second, Ottawa Senators owners Eugene Melnyk appeared on a Toronto Radio Show on Monday to discuss the Olympics, and offered some bleak realizations.
“The schedule is set. The dates are set. All of our fan appreciation days are set,” Melnyk said, according to Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Citizen.”You asked me if there’s any way of fixing this or doing something with this? You can’t for this coming season. Absolutely not.
“It’s August. We start training camp in a month. People start coming in and then we start full play in early-October. It’s actually technically impossible to do. Think of the television that’s all set. There’s a lot of things that have been set in motion that are pretty much irreversible.”
This is obviously a damn shame because it’s going to massively lower the quality of Olympic hockey we’re going to get to watch come February. On an Oilers fan note, we’re also going to be robbed of likely our best chance to watch an elite Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid, the best two players of this generation, play together.
So get ready for the heavily-televised version of Spengler Cup. Pre-order your Gilbert Brule and Rob Klinkhammer jerseys. This should be interesting.