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Here are all the players mad about the NHL’s stance on the 2018 Olympics

Commissioner Gary Bettman has told reporters to 'assume we are not going' to the Winter Olympics.

Ice Hockey - Winter Olympics Day 11 - Russia v Norway Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

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?

Alex Ovechkin

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.

Capitals owner Ted Leonsis has no problems with his captain playing either, saying back in December that he supports Ovechkin’s decision.

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.

McDavid then added to the conversation and said that he “can't imagine the Olympics without it.”

Jakub Voracek

In March, the Flyers forward outright called the potential decision to abstain from the Olympics “absolutely ridiculous.”

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."

Erik Karlsson

Sportsnet picked up Karlsson’s wish to participate just days after Voracek. The Senators captain, however, might have a harder time getting his wish as a member of Team Sweden.

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.

Max Pacioretty

The Canadiens captain also spoke out for participation in March, reiterating the words of other NHLers had that “[the players] want to go.”

“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.”