The NHL announced last April that non of its players participate in the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.
The decision ended a run of five consecutive Winter Olympics which have featured NHL players.
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The decision received criticism from certain quarters in the game who feel that they have been robbed of the chance to make history and partake in the games.
These views were echoed by New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, whose twin brother Joel is on the Swedish Olympic team.
Speaking to the media Joel spoke of his brother’s disappointment: ‘He wants to be here, for sure.’
He added: ‘It is a big tournament, and he is really disappointed he is not playing. I think all the NHL players want to be here. I always thought they would do something so they would come and play.’
Meanwhile, German coach Marco Sturm, a former NHL player, said: ‘It is disappointing. Knowing that all the (NHL) players wanted to be here, this is unfortunate. This is an event where the best players should play.’
Why can’t NHL players partake in the Winter Olympics?
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman repeatedly said in the lead up to the announcement that the NHL team owners were against Olympic participation for a variety of reasons.
The main reason would have been the 17-day break in the NHL schedule required in February for the Winter Olympic games.
This time is crucial for the NHL from an economic, TV and commercial standpoint because the NFL’s season has ended and Major League Baseball’s season has yet to begin.
Potential injuries to NHL players could also hinder team preparations for the crucial play-off season.
According to USA Today, New York Islanders’ John Tavares, Detroit Red Wings’ Henrik Zetterberg and Florida Panthers’ Aleksander Barkov were injured in Sochi in 2014 and their teams lost crucial NHL games.
The Red Wings sent a League-high 10 players to the 2014 Sochi Olympics and lost in the first round of the playoffs and Red Wings and Colorado Avalanche each sent 10 players to 2006 Torino Olympics and lost in the first and second round of the playoffs.
‘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,’ Commissioner Bettman said at the conclusion of the General Managers’ meetings on 8 March in Boca Raton.
Another factor was the cost of sending players to participate.
Previously, the IOC (International Olympic Committee) had been paying for the NHL’s participation costs associated with travel, insurance and accommodations for the players and their guests, however, they told the NHL it will not continue to pay for those costs for the 2018 tournament.
Furthermore, a fans’ poll conducted by the NHL found that in the United States, 73 percent said they were not in favor. In Canada, it was 53 percent against the break.
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