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NHL Players Denied Olympic Dreams

By: Jeremy Schier & Kevin Rouse

As the 2018  Winter Olympics came to a close, the NHL was still receiving backlash from the Olympic committee and fans alike due to their decision that does not grant NHL players the right to participate. Since early 2017, Commissioner Gary Bettmann has been consistent with his response to not allowing NHL players to participate in the Olympics because it serves as a major disruption towards the flow of the regular season, as star players would leave their team for multiple weeks. In doing so, they put their health on the line as it can increase the likelihood that a player gets injured. In the 2014 Winter Olympics, John Tavares, a top player in the NHL for the New York Islanders, tore his ACL midway through the second period of an exhibition game, sidelining him for the rest of the season which led to the current decision to prevent something like that from happening again. Backlash by NHL players has hurt the overall image of the NHL as well, as tensions rise between players and commissioner Gary Bettman. Players like captain of the Washington Capitals Alexander Ovechkin and captain of the Senators Erik Karlson have expressed their disappointment to the media. They see it as being deprived the opportunity to represent their native country on one of the largest athletic stages in the world. Although both were given permission by their respective owners, as well as their general managers, to participate in the Olympics, Gary Bettman refuses relent. He claims that it will not only cause disagreements between the league and player union, but it will also cause many other NHL players to question Gary Bettman’s authority and rules. Additionally, Gary Bettman has already ruled out the possibility of NHL players participating in the 2022 Olympics as well. While his points are understandable, they are not necessarily fair to those players who want to represent their country with pride.

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