With the 2018 Winter Olympics less than a year away, the NHL is starting to run out of clock. It seems as if we’ve passed the point of no return on NHL player participation months ago, but the news is still technically up in the air as the league and the International Olympic Committee remain mum on details of negotiations.
As the idea that the NHL will forgo the 2018 Olympics comes more into focus, the big question remains: what will the players do? For many, the Olympics is the highest arena of competition, and winning gold for one’s country supersedes the Stanley Cup.
The players take the Olympics seriously, and that commitment will no doubt cause friction between owners and players. It already has, in some cases.
Which is why we’ve rounded up every NHL player that has, so far, publicly announced their hope to play in the Olympics, despite the league’s current stance. The list as it stands holds some pretty big names, but will it be enough to override the course the NHL seems to be taking?
Ovechkin has been adamant about his participation in the Olympics since before the start of the 2016-17 season. Recently, he’s reiterated that his "decision is the same” and that he will play for Team Russia come next February.
Jonathan Toews, Connor McDavid, James van Riemsdyk
In late January, a trio of NHL stars spoke out on their hopes for NHL player inclusion in the upcoming Olympics.
Toews said Olympic participation “should be of interest to the players and the league” and that they’d be “misrepresenting our sport” if NHL players did not attend.
Van Riemsdyk echoed the statement.
James van Riemsdyk tells reporters "that pretty much echoes how I feel." https://t.co/Z77V7pmQk3— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) January 31, 2017
McDavid then added to the conversation and said that he “can't imagine the Olympics without it.”
In fact, Voracek has been one of the more outspoken players on the issue:
"The players want to go. Why you're saying you're not going? You're not part of the players association. ... Nobody wants you there. They want the players."
"The players want to go, I guarantee you that. I want to see how you are going to hold [Alex] Ovechkin back. The Russian players. Tell them they can't go."
Eugene Melnyk, the owner of the Senators, said he was afraid that he’d either lose Karlsson to injury or that he’d beat “our” Canadian team. Melnyk would consider letting Karlsson leave if he was Canadian, however.
Here's the full quote from the snippet of an interview SN had with Senators owner Eugene Melnyk in the intermission. pic.twitter.com/tRmEIpGiSd— Callum Fraser (@CallumFraser18) March 19, 2017
“I think it helps the league. I know it helps the league. It helps the teams, it helps the marketing, it helps—especially people are talking about— international viewers and fans of the league. So for me it’s a no-brainer that players should be there and players should go.”