AHL allowing players on minor-league deals to go to Olympics

AHL allowing players on minor-league deals to go to Olympics

Players on American Hockey League contracts will be eligible to play in the 2018 Winter Olympics.

President and CEO David Andrews confirmed through a league spokesman Wednesday that teams were informed they could loan players on AHL contracts to national teams for the purposes of participating in the Pyeongchang Olympics.

The AHL sent a memo to its 30 clubs saying players could only be loaned for Olympic participation from Feb. 5-26.

The Olympic men's hockey tournament runs from Feb. 9-25. Like the NHL, which is not having its players participate for the first time since 1994, the AHL does not have an Olympic break in its schedule.

The AHL's decision does not affect players assigned to that league on NHL one- or two-way contracts. No final decision has been made about those players.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly denied a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation report that the league had told its 31 teams that AHL players could be loaned to play in the Olympics. It was an AHL memo sent at the direction of that league's board of governors.

When the NHL announced in April that it wouldn't be sending players to South Korea after participating in five consecutive Olympics, Andrews said the AHL was prepared for Canada, the United States and other national federations to request players.

"I would guess we're going to lose a fair number of players," Andrews said in April. "Not just to Canada and the U.S., but we're going to lose some players to other teams, as well. But we're used to that. Every team in our league has usually got two or three guys who are on recalls to the NHL, so it's not going to really change our competitive integrity or anything else."

The U.S. and Canada are expected to rely heavily on players in European professional leagues and college and major junior hockey to fill out Olympic rosters without NHL players.

Jakub Voracek lashes out at Bill Daly, Gary Bettman over Olympic indecision

Jakub Voracek lashes out at Bill Daly, Gary Bettman over Olympic indecision

TORONTO -- Commissioner Gary Bettman's stance on the NHL participation, or lack thereof, in the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea hasn't changed one iota and at least one Flyer -- Jakub Voracek -- remains upset.

"It's stupid and I find it absolutely ridiculous," said Voracek, who represented the Czech Republic at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

But during this week's NHL general manager meetings in Boca Raton, Florida, Bettman didn't provide any kind of update that would have made Voracek feel any better about the situation.

"There's absolutely nothing new," Bettman told reporters.
 
"And I think the overwhelming sentiment of the teams is that it's very disruptive on the season and there's somewhere between fatigue and negativity on the subject."
 
There remains a strong consensus among players throughout the league to attend the Winter Games, regardless of the logistical issues and time differences for broadcasts of games from Pyeongchang, South Korea.
 
"Unless something changes, we're not going," deputy commissioner Bill Daly told Canadian Press. "We've said that consistently for three months, so there's nothing new about that."
 
That comment, in particular, angered Voracek, who spoke to CSNPhilly.com during Thursday's morning skate hours before the Flyers' 4-2 defeat in Toronto.
 
"Absolutely ridiculous," Voracek said. "We have it once every four years. I read something that Bill Daly said we're not going. Nobody wants you to go.
 
"The players want to go. Why are you saying you're not going? You're not part of the players' association. ... Nobody wants you there. They want the players."
 
Bettman said the NHL is already putting together its schedule for next season and it doesn’t include an Olympic break.
 
Interestingly, Bettman did say that the league has strong interest in the 2022 Games in China, mentioning that those Games present the NHL with some strong business opportunities and partnerships.
 
"It's the Olympics," Voracek said. "It's not just about business. You want to be part of the Olympics. And trust me, players want to go. And the players who don't go get a week off to recharge their batteries. If you have bumps and bruises, you can heal and recover.
 
"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."
 
While the NHL consistently harps on shutting down for up to 17 days, it hasn't stopped the league from going to the previous five Olympics.
 
One more thing -- that Bettman hasn't said flat-out that it's over means there is still time to salvage NHL participation.
 
After all, everything in life is negotiable.