NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and commissioner Gary Bettman made their first public comments regarding Alex Ovechkin’s stance on participating in the upcoming Olympic games in South Korea.
On September 16th, Ovechkin reiterated his intention to play in the 2018 Olympics in South Korea, even if there was a ban by the NHL.
Alex Ovechkin on 2018 Olympics: “I WILL go there…”
— “Maybe I won’t be in the NHL, maybe I’ll be retired.” pic.twitter.com/7kgj6hCPhU
— Robert Söderlind (@HockeyWebCast) September 16, 2016
The Darkening Horizon
The NHL has not made a formal decision regarding league participation in the Olympics, however, it’s looking less likely at this point. According to league sources, the chances that the NHL is going to bring its players to the 2018 Winter Olympics are dwindling by the day.
“I think time is very short to make a decision, and I’m not sure there’s been a lot of progress made in the past six months, and I’m not sure there’s any prospect for progress to be made,” said NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly. “So on the basis of that, I’d say that I’m more negative today than I was two weeks ago.”
According to an article by SportsNet Canada, “the International Olympic Committee’s reluctance to picking up transportation, insurance, and accommodation costs for players and their guests“, Daly said, remain obstacles in the sluggish negotiation process between the IOC, IIHF and NHL.
“I don’t have a league reaction to that. If that became a prevailing view of a group of players, or a significant group of players, I might have a different view,” Daly said.
“But at this point it’s a single superstar player who will have a contract with one of our clubs, and the club will handle that within its own discretion.”
“We’re not going to speculate on things that at earliest are years ahead and may or may not ever come to fruition,” Bettman said.
Right now, it’s clear the NHL is deflecting any attention from the situation back on the Washington Capitals, by stating it is up to the team on how to handle their contracted players.
It should also be mentioned that, as always, money has a lot to do with this, and one of the reasons behind the NHL’s revitalization of the World Cup of Hockey. For the record, the NHL Players Association has been adamant about its players continuing to participate in the Olympics.
On his first day back to Kettler, Evgeny Kuznetsov was asked about the upcoming Olympics. No surprise, he seems to fully back Ovechkin.
A Familiar Path?
If the story sounds familiar, it should. Prior to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi Russia, Ovechkin took a similar stance, also stating he would play in the Sochi games, regardless of the NHL’s plans. As it turned out, the NHL decided to back the Sochi games and fully participated in the 2014 Winter Games.
By Jon Sorensen
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