Montreal (AFP) – The National Hockey League said it is still not in a position to convince club owners to release their players for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
“The question is, does anything change,” said NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly.
“Do the dynamics change in such a way that we’re in a position to go back to the Board and say, ‘We understand that a number of you, a good number of you, don’t see the benefit for participation in the Olympics, this is the reason you should reconsider that and decide as to whether it’s a good thing for your club, for the League as a whole or for the game as a whole’?
“At this point nothing has happened that would change where we were three weeks ago.”
The participation of the NHL players at the next Olympic Games (February 9-25, 2018) is being called into question because of a decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to pull financial contributions which it has made for the past five Olympics. The money goes towards travel, insurance and accommodation costs.
The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) said it could cover some of the costs that the IOC previously handled.
The IOC has asked the NHL to make a decision by January 15 but Daly said it could take longer than that.
“It’s not as if we (NHL and IIHF) don’t communicate from time to time, but there’s just not been any substantive communication with respect to moving the Olympic question forward,” Daly said.
NHL players have been a staple in the Winter Olympics since 1998 at Nagano, with the league taking a two-week mid-season break to allow the world’s greatest players to represent their home countries and compete for Olympic gold.
Daly reiterated that the owners have other reasons for not wanting to release their players such as shutting down the season for two weeks and potential injuries to star players.
“From our Board’s perspective, there has to be a compelling reason for us to go to the Olympics, and as I stand here now, we’re still searching for that reason,” he said.