ST. LOUIS – The biggest story in the NHL earlier this week centered on potential Olympic participation in Pyeongchang, South Korea in 2018.
The league and the owners aren’t too keen on the idea, as shutting down the league for two weeks in the middle of the second half and risking injuries to star players isn’t worth the added exposure or the hassle. The NHLPA, though, wants to go, including members Joe Pavelski and defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, both of whom were in the most recent tournament in Sochi, Russia in 2014.
On Wednesday, it was reported that the league would be willing to allow the players to go to the Olympics in exchange for extending the current CBA, which could be up for renegotiation as soon as 2020. Sportnet.ca’s Elliotte Friedman breaks it all down, here.
Vlasic heard about the proposal by the league. His reaction?
“I started laughing,” he said. “That’s not negotiating. It’s not.”
“As an athlete, it’s your right to go to the Olympics. I don’t know if [the report] is true. I hope it’s not. That’s not the way you negotiate things. But, if that is true, all of a sudden they don’t mind having a two-week break in the NHL for a three-year collective bargaining agreement.”
Pavelski, who recently served as captain of Team USA at the World Cup and has played in the Olympics twice, said he wasn’t completely caught up on all the details of the latest report. He did, though, make it clear that he hopes NHL players are permitted to play in the 2018 games.
“Oh yeah, for sure,” he said. “The Olympics are the Olympics, right? I think they speak for themselves, and everyone loves being a part of it. Those are a couple moments in my career that you really appreciate the chance to go and represent your country, and take in that whole atmosphere, and compete.”
There is speculation that if the NHL decides to skip the Olympics, some players might go anyway. Alex Ovechkin is already on record as saying he would leave the Washington Capitals to compete for Russia.
According to Pavelski, “it’s hard to say” how the players would react if the league doesn’t allow them to go.
“It sounds like some people will be going regardless, and others you don’t really know. It’s too early to tell, and we’ll figure that out when it comes,” he said.
One player that wouldn't take the news well is Vlasic, who won gold with Team Canada two-and-a-half years ago.
“If they don’t allow players to go, that’s just…in my opinion, you don’t do that. You don’t do that," he said.