If you’re hoping to see all of your favorite hockey players don their national colors and compete in the Olympics, then Gary Bettman has a message for you: Don’t get your hopes up.

When talking about the NHL’s negotiations regarding the Olympic Games, Bettman said on Tuesday that people should assume the players will not be participating.

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The NHL does not want to risk player injury or shut its season down for over two weeks for a tournament in which it has no financial stakes. The issue of Olympic participation really came to a head when the IOC announced it would no longer pay player insurance and transportation costs as it had for the five previous Winter Games.

All the rhetoric coming out of the NHL looks bleak, but it is also important to note that, while the league has made clear Olympic participation is unlikely, they have not closed the door completely.

The NHL could put an end to this discussion altogether by declaring they will not participate in Pyeongchang in 2018. There is nothing that says they have to go to the Olympics and nothing stopping the league from declaring they will not. And yet, the league has not done so.

This is an issue of particular interest to the Washington Capitals given the very public stance of both Alex Ovechkin and Ted Leonsis. Ovechkin has already declared that he will leave to play in the Olympics regardless of the NHL’s participation and Leonsis has said he would back the team captain. Should Ovechkin go, it would not be surprising to find that other players could be joining him like T.J. Oshie, Evgeny Kunzetsov, Dmitry Orlov, Nicklas Backstrom and Braden Holtby.


The battle over NHL players participating in the Olympics is far from over, but things are not looking good.

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