Big Question: What do you think of the NHL’s decision to not go to the Olympics?
Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators: “Crap. Pretty much. I don’t understand the decision. We have no say in the matter; it’s very unfortunate for the game of hockey around the world that they’re going to do this to the sport. I think it’s going to hurt a lot if we don’t end up going. Whoever made that decision obviously had no idea about what they’re doing.
“Unfortunately, we’re in the position we’re in. We have no say, again, we’re just doing what we’ve been told. Again, we’re going to have to see here what’s going on and what’s happening. It came as much a surprise for us as it did for everybody around the world and our fans and everybody who was excited to see us come play.”
Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers: “It’s disappointing. I think that’s easy to say. Just the opportunity to chase down a spot on Team Canada and be able to represent my country. Obviously, the Olympics is the greatest sporting event in the world. Not to be able to do that is disappointing but there’s a lot of people higher up making those decisions.”
Anton Stralman, Tampa Bay Lightning: “It’s very sad, I think. From a player’s perspective, it’s a dream that got crushed and I don’t think they realize that, but for a lot of guys that haven’t had a chance to go yet — [the NHL] crushed a dream and that sucks. It’s another sad day for all the fans in the world, especially over in Europe that grew up with seeing and looking forward to the big national team tournaments, wanting to see the best players perform and play for their country. It’s just sad, it really is.”
Kevin Shattenkirk, Washington Capitals: “It really seemed like kind of a knee-jerk decision by the NHL to just kibosh it. I know we really want to go, and I think we deserve to go and the world deserves to see hockey at that level. It’s the highest level of hockey that I’ve ever played at. And it’s great for our game. If we can get over there and the next two Olympics are in that part of the world and grow our game even more, I don’t see why we wouldn’t do it. … Now it just seems like they want to use it as a bargaining chip. That’s wrong. That’s not what the Olympics is for. The reason we started going was so we could grow the game and show the world how great it is when you get the best players in the world playing against each other. That’s what we’re trying to achieve with the World Cup, but that’s going to take time, and this is right in the prime of it. The last Olympics was fantastic, and to just dismiss it, really, without much conversation is tough.”
Ryan Callahan, Tampa Bay Lightning: “It’s extremely unfortunate. I was lucky enough to play in two Olympics and I’d say those are my two memorable hockey moments to be able to represent your country at such a big stage, so it’s unfortunate they decided to go this way and take it away. I realize how lucky I was to play in those two and I know the young guys who haven’t gotten to play in one yet and how much it would mean to them. It’s too bad. It really is because it will grow the game a lot, especially where the next two Olympics are and it would give us a lot of exposure throughout the world.”
Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning: “Extremely, extremely disappointed. Obviously, we don’t agree with that decision. If you look at yourself and you’ve never been able to participate in the Olympics and maybe next year was the one chance you’ll get. … I’m at a loss for words when the news came out.”
Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning: “The players have been pretty adamant and really haven’t changed their tune that, if given the opportunity to represent your country at the Olympics, we’d all love that chance, so it was disappointing to hear. You never know what can happen between now and then, but they seem to have a pretty strong opinion and stance on it. From a player’s perspective, it’s disappointing. We have a great chance, not only if you’re chosen to represent your country and go over there and do something that’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but to really grow the game and it’s at its best right now. Every time you watch the Olympics, or get a chance to participate in the Olympics, from what I’ve heard it’s an unbelievable experience. It’s just disappointing.”
Big Question follow-up: Are you going to go anyway?
Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals: “Yeah, I didn’t change my mind. I’m still going. … Because it’s my country. I think everybody wants to play there. It’s the biggest opportunity in your life to play in the Olympic Games. So, I don’t know, somebody [is] going to tell me, ‘Don’t go,’ I don’t care, I just go.”
Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers: “I’ve been focusing on the team right now. The announcement just came out yesterday. I haven’t had much time to think about it. At this point I’m in no position to make a statement like that.”
T.J. Oshie, Washington Capitals: “You know what? For me, right now, because it’s so fresh, even though we knew this can be a reality, I just for some reason feel we’re going to find a way to resolve it. I just can’t imagine us not going. When it comes down to it, I’ll make a decision about that, but as of right now, I’m staying positive, hoping we can figure something out.”
Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals: “I wouldn’t be able to go away from my team here. I couldn’t do it. That’s just personal. But everyone’s priorities are kind of different. [Ovechkin] plays a big role on Team Russia. But as me, I’ve always liked the group that I’ve been with through the year. That’s my No. 1 focus.”
“It’s just a matter of respect and listening to the players and since when do they? It’s just sad, it really is that there couldn’t be that communication. … It’s a players’ league. [Owners] are doing the business side of it and they’re doing a good job at it, and we’re down here putting out all the work and we would like to go play in the big tournaments. I’m not worried about my health; they sure not are, so I don’t see an issue.”
Ryan Callahan, Tampa Bay Lightning: “That’s a very complicated question at this point. You don’t know what ramifications against you if you do that, and at the same time, you want to support your teammates on your club here, so it’s a loaded question and for fairness to everybody, I don’t think anybody could answer that right now.”
Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning: “Yeah, you can certainly have that attitude, but we don’t know exactly what the rules and regulations will be regarding that topic. Until you know that, [then] you can make an informed decision at that time. Personally, there’s some time here to maybe let things settle down a little bit and reflect. Hopefully, something can change their mind.”
–Joe McDonald, Pierre LeBrun, Craig Custance, Tal Pinchevsky