After months of speculation, the National Hockey League has decided it will not participate in the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
In a statement the league says:
"We have previously made clear that, while the overwhelming majority of our Clubs are adamantly opposed to disrupting the 2017-2018 NHL season for purposes of accommodating Olympic participation by some NHL players, we were open to hearing from any other parties who might have an interest in the issue (e.g., the IOC, the IIHF, the NHLPA) as to reasons the Board of Governors might be interested in re-evaluating their strongly held views on the subject. A number of months have now passed and no meaningful dialogue has materialized. Instead, the IOC has now expressed the position that the NHL's participation in Beijing in 2022 is conditioned on our participation in South Korea in 2018. And the NHL PA has now publicly confirmed that it has no interest or intention of engaging in any discussion that might make Olympic participation more attractive to the Clubs. As a result, and in an effort to create clarity among conflicting reports and erroneous speculation, this will confirm our intention to proceed with finalizing our 2017-2018 regular season schedule without any break to accommodate the Olympic Winter Games. We now consider the matter officially closed."
The N.H.L Players Association has yet to respond publically to the decision from the league. Participation from NHLers in the Olympics began in 1998 in Nagano, Japan.
Moral of the story --- the N.H.L doesn't see any benefit in shutting down their league while the Olympics are played.
Most players have very adamantly expressed their interest in playing in both 2018 and moving forward. Some owners like Eugene Melnyk [Ottawa Senators] have been vocal in saying they wouldn't support their players from participating.
That being said, some other owners have said that they're open to their players representing their respective countries. It all depends on the team. Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals has said he plans on playing regardless.
How many players will do the same?
Will teams be okay with sending their superstars away for three weeks during the middle of the season?
These are the questions we will now have as the Olympics approach.