Tha Sports Junkies 101

NHL players will not play in 2018 Olympics

NHL players will not play in 2018 Olympics Shawn Carpenter via Flickr


The NHL players will not participate in the Winter Olympics for the first time since 1998

The Olympic dream for NHL players has ended after 20 years.

The league issued a release Monday stating that it will not send it players to South Korea for the 2018 Winter Olympics. This will be the first time in five Winter Games that NHL players will not participate in the hockey tournament.

The NHL would shut down the league when the Winter Olympics fell within the schedule. The league has not always been fond of the scheduling during these years, and is one of the leading factors to the decision.

The decision has many players unhappy. New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist tweeted out “Disappointing news, @NHL won’t be a part of Olympics 2018. A huge opportunity to market the game at the biggest stage is wasted”

That is the sentiment that many fans and players alike have. Gary Bettman is constantly criticized for stunting the growth of hockey. The Olympics have been an opportunity for the NHL to showcase its talent on the international stage. Many feel that soccer and the MLS will pass the popularity of hockey in the United States. The lack of presence at the Olympics will not help the cause.

Another concern with the NHL players participating is injuries. In the most recent Winter Olympics, New York Islanders star center John Tavares missed the remainder of the 2013-2014 season after tearing ligaments in his left knee. While the Islanders were nowhere near a playoff spot at that point, injuries like that can scare teams.

Canada has captured the most gold medals in the NHL-filled Olympics, grabbing three (2002,2010,2014). The Czech Republic won the NHL’s first trip in 1998 and Sweden swooped up gold in 2006.

Those who formally played in the NHL but currently play elsewhere, like Russia’s Ilya Kovalchuk and Pavel Datsyuk, are still eligible to participate.

There is no decision on whether or not the NHL will send its players for the 2022 Games. It is currently unlikely that NHL players will be in Beijing.