On April 3, the National Hockey League (NHL) announced that they will no longer be participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics in China. The reasoning behind their announcement was that the mid-season event caused a more condensed regular season schedule and could potentially harm the league’s greatest players. Also, the International Olympic Committee changed its policy saying they will no longer reimburse the cost of travel and insurance for the hockey players, something the organization has done for the last 20 years. The NHL would lose out on a lot of money due to an injury to a fan favorite player, because after all, professional hockey is a business, and revenue is very important to continually improve and expand the league.
To say the least, players did not react kindly to this decision. Star players such as Alexander Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid, expressed disappointment in the League’s decision. Ovechkin even saying he will ignore this ruling and participate in the games anyway.
“Yeah, I didn’t change my mind and I won’t,” Ovechkin told ESPN interviewer Pierre Lebrun. “Because it’s my country. I think everybody wants to play there. It’s the biggest opportunity in your life to play in the Olympic Games. So, I don’t know, somebody [is] going to tell me ‘don’t go,’ I don’t care, I just go.”
NHL players are patriotic and don’t take this matter lightly. Many other players have participated in the movement of continuing participation in the Olympics. Ambassadors of the sport have spoken out and reassured players their concerns have been heard, but there no talks scheduled thus far.
This will be an ongoing topic of discussion for the remainder of the year, and into next year, but for now, the NHL has to focus on greater things, such as the playoffs which began on Wednesday, April 12.
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