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The NHL Needs To Be In Pyeongchang

from Marc-Edouard Vlasic at CBC Sports,

This POV was originally written for Radio-Canada and has been translated to English.

I was there sitting in front of my TV. It’s a nice TV, but I just had this urge to break it in two.

What I was seeing was completely ridiculous. It was April 3, and the commissioner of the National Hockey League, Gary Bettman, announced that NHL players would not participate at the next Winter Olympic Games, taking place in less than a year in South Korea. And that the case was closed. At first, I told myself they had missed April Fools by two days.

The elimination rounds of the NHL playoffs were about to start. In terms of timing, it was perfect for the league. People were going to chat a bit, then the series would start and all the Olympic stories would quickly be forgotten.

I can’t say that I am disappointed. When you are disappointed you can move on. When you’re in a relationship and that person leaves you, it’s disappointing and you are frustrated. But even if it’s difficult, you turn the page. No, saying that I am disappointed is not strong enough, because this is unacceptable. Players in the NHL should participate in the Olympic Games for two good and simple reasons: First, the Olympic Games must have the best players in the world facing off.

Second, it is the ideal occasion to promote our sport all over the world. If NHL players don’t end up going to Pyeongchang, I will spend the rest of my career (I have always wanted to play until I am 40, so the next 10 years) feeling frustration and hatred towards the NHL.


Filed in: NHL Teams, San Jose Sharks, NHL Talk, Non-NHL Hockey, International Hockey, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: marc-edouard+vlasic


WingedRider's avatar

If player just disobey the their teams “No Go” what happens, penalties.  Some higher echelon teams will have their rosters depleted a lot more than some teams with no depth.

Does Gary and his 3 or 4 owners really want a lockout. Starting to think we are headed there, just don’t understand the reasons but I am sure $$$ is in there somewhere.

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 06/30/17 at 01:27 AM ET

Iggy_Rules's avatar

I believe it basically comes down to money (for the NHL) and risk (for the owners). If an owner’s #1 guy is injured during the tournament, that owner’s team has to finish the season short handed. No amount of insurance coverage is going to make a difference on the ice. not every owner is going to be like Leonsis is with Ovi. Pretty sure Melnyk is dead set against it, probably Jacobs too.

Posted by Iggy_Rules from Calgary, Canada on 06/30/17 at 01:49 AM ET

Chet's avatar

nhlpa needs to strike. the non olympics guys may have to lose half a season, which will hurt. but for the good of the sport and the union, the season should not start on time unless the Olympics are included. Asia is a logical next step in the progression of hockey as a worldwide sport. to let this current group of self interested, short sighted, in some cases awful owners derail that is completely irresponsible and unacceptable.

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 06/30/17 at 05:52 AM ET

TreKronor's avatar

nhlpa needs to strike.

Problem is, during the last strike they all agreed to address the Olympics issue later instead of working through it at the time, since half the season was already gone.

I think part of the issue is you get a couple VERY vocal GMs (I’m thinking Jacobs, Melnyk, and Burke) who encourage a group think atmosphere.  I’m guessing there are going to be guys like Bowman, Poille, Yzerman, Holland, etc who don’t care a whole lot about it.  I’m sure they’d rather not go, but wouldn’t care either way.  That said, they aren’t going to start up an inter-mgmt fight for something that doesn’t really benefit them anyways, so they go with the group-think.

Posted by TreKronor on 06/30/17 at 09:04 AM ET

dougie's avatar

In a world where we regularly question the need/wisdom to have hockey franchises in spots like Raleigh and Arizona, why the sport needs to grow into Asia is an answer in search of a question.

Why does hockey need to expand into Asia? Because we can? It seems a poor reason to me.

Just spitballing. As always , YMMV.

Posted by dougie on 06/30/17 at 09:06 AM ET


If they were a cohesive group with a good brain trust, the day after Bettman said they weren’t going to Korea the PA would’ve come out and announced that if the league isn’t going to let players go to Korea, then the PA isn’t going to let players go to China.

Instead they did nothing and set a precedent.

Posted by CharDeeMacDennis on 06/30/17 at 09:23 AM ET

NHLJeff's avatar

TreKronor, FYI, none of the 3 names you mentioned are GMs. Melnyk and Jacobs are owners. Burke is team president.

Posted by NHLJeff from Denver on 06/30/17 at 09:35 AM ET

TreKronor's avatar

TreKronor, FYI, none of the 3 names you mentioned are GMs. Melnyk and Jacobs are owners. Burke is team president.

Whoa.  What the heck was I saying.

Well anyways, you get the drift.  Where’s the cawfee

Posted by TreKronor on 06/30/17 at 09:37 AM ET


I’m torn on this topic.  From what I understand the NHL doesn’t gain much financially by sending its players, which would be their motivation for participating.  As for growing the game, the KHL (don’t laugh) seems to be better suited as an ambassador for growth of the game in Asia.  Best on best sounds great on paper but the games have generally been snooze fests, over coached like a typical NHL game.  I’m sure it’s a great experience for the players but the risk seems to be too great.

Posted by Steve1306 on 06/30/17 at 10:34 AM ET

shazam88's avatar

nhlpa needs to strike.

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 06/30/17 at 05:52 AM ET

Chet, I know that you know…that they can’t simply strike, given the fact that they’re operating under a collective bargaining agreement

Posted by shazam88 from SoCal on 06/30/17 at 10:52 AM ET

ilovehomers's avatar

If the PA didnt negotiate olympics participation in the last CBA, then this is their own fault.

We may not have had a season if they tried to get this, but hey.

Posted by ilovehomers on 06/30/17 at 11:14 AM ET

Iggy_Rules's avatar

In theory, the NHL is the top league in the world, where the best hockey players play. If the league refuses to participate in these Olympics, and likely the 2022 games, the trickle down on overseas talent will be noticeable. As Vlasic notes, competing for your country at the highest level and on the biggest stage is nothing short of amazing. Ovi wants to go, consequences be damned. So those guys from Europe and Russia might think twice about signing in the NHL if it prevents them from potential Olympic participation in the future.

Then there is the double standard of having games in China to “grow the game”, on a small stage in a small area for what amounts to nothing games,  but then not going to Korea to compete on the biggest stage. That’s a telling sign that this is related to finances and short term vision The NHL gets the take on their exhibition games and regular season games. They get no take from the Olympic games.

Posted by Iggy_Rules from Calgary, Canada on 06/30/17 at 01:11 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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