Fans holding out hope of seeing their favorite NHL players participate in the Winter Olympics anytime soon got some bad news.
As part of the NHL’s International Series this weekend, commissioner Gary Bettman did an interview with Marie Lehmann and Anna Nilsson of SVT TV in Sweden. It’s already been known that the NHL will not be partaking in the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.
The speculation was that this would be a one-time thing, but it may not be. In fact, this may be the new norm for the NHL.
“I never say never, but I find it hard to envision a scenario where it makes sense unless, possibly, the Winter Games are back in North America where the time frame, and the attention, and the logistics — travel — are a lot different,” Bettman said.
Logistically, it’s always been difficult for the league to participate in the Olympics, as they need to insert a break into their schedule in order to facilitate involvement. The owners also did not like having players injured in the games, and the IOC didn’t want to cover insurance for the players anymore.
The NHL asked to be an official sponsor for the games in exchange for covering the insurance costs, but the IOC refused to allow them to become one, and the league ultimately decided to not participate.
It now appears that this is more than a one-time thing, as the NHL appears committed to pushing the World Cup of Hockey and not interrupting their regular season.
This all could change as we get closer to the 2022 games in Bejing however, as the NHL is gaining a presence in China, including holding preseason action in the country before this season.
That said, at the moment, it appears that the league has no intention of returning to the Olympics anytime soon.