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The NHL Won’t Let Players Compete in 2018 Winter Olympics

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Russia and Washington Capitals star Alexander Ovechkin is among top players to claim they would play in the Olympics regardless of the NHL decision. Photo: Flickr/ Keith Allison

And so it seems that National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman, the 31 team owners and National Hockey League Players Association Executive Director Donald Fehr have no interest in shutting down the regular season for two weeks next February so players could compete in the 2018 South Korea Winter Olympics.

The NHL does not like what the International Olympic Committee is offering, the players were not interested in reworking the collective bargaining agreement and so other players will have a chance to play for their countries in the Olympics. Maybe college or junior players and pros not in the NHL. The NHL will be holding two regular season games in Stockholm, Sweden on November 10 and 11 featuring the Ottawa Senators and Colorado Avalanche. The league will also be sending two teams, Los Angeles and Vancouver to China during training camp and play a game in Beijing and one in Shanghai.

The NHL probably does not want to miss out on the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics even though there is scant interest in the game in China. So, it is conceivable that the NHL will be content with staging the World Cup of Hockey every four years. But the World Cup of Hockey is not going to reach the same number of people who watch the Olympics. It is strictly a tournament for hard core hockey fans and needs to be expanded beyond the greater Toronto area and into some American and European cities.

The 2017-2018 schedule can now be finalized with dates locked in at various arenas and there are league priorities such as outdoor games that have to be scheduled and promoted. Meanwhile in South Korea there are all sorts of political problems starting with the President being impeached and arrested. South Korean Olympics backers are hoping the Games will restore national pride whether the NHL players are there or not.

By Evan Weiner For The Politics Of Sports Business

This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.

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