NHL commissioner on Winter Olympics: ‘We’re not going’ – Chicago … – Chicago Tribune
“We’re not going,” Bettman said Friday during his annual meeting with a group of sports editors at league headquarters. “That decision has been made.”
The issues on the table included insurance and travel expenses for players, and the IOC appeared to be willing to soften its stance on both. But Bettman said who pays for what is just part of the equation.
“We’re not anti-Olympics,” Bettman said. “We’re anti-disruption.”
The Winter Olympics fall squarely in the middle of the NHL season, during mid-February when the league only shares the pro sports calendar with the NBA. That, more than any financial consideration, is the deal-breaker, according to Bettman. Going dark for two weeks — “invisible,” as Bettman put it — is too much of a sacrifice at that time of year.
Bettman said the idea of moving the hockey tournament to the Summer Olympics was floated, but the Olympic charter specifies that games of “snow and ice” should be in the Winter Games. He noted that ice hockey was introduced to the Olympics at the Summer Games in Antwerp in 1920, so apparently the charter could be amended.
While some NHL players — most notably Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin – have said they would abandon their teams to play for their home country, Bettman thought that scenario was unlikely. The various national hockey federations may not accept NHL players if the league doesn’t participate in the Olympics, and there are obvious contractual obligations that would be violated if a player chose to leave his NHL team to participate in the two-week Olympic tournament.
“We’re confident our players will remain with their teams,” Bettman said.