The National Hockey League Players’ Association has rejected an offer from the league to allow player participation in the 2018 Olympics in exchange for an extension on the current collective bargaining agreement.
According to NHLPA executive director Don Fehr, the players had no interest in the idea. There is, however, still an interest in an agreement for Olympic participation.
Under the NHL’s proposal, which was tabled to the NHLPA last month, the league would permit participation in the 2018 Olympics at Pyeongchang if the players agreed to extend the current CBA by three years. That would eliminate the potential opt-out clause taking effect in the fall of 2019.
According to the NHLPA, such an extension would’ve ruled out the ability to negotiate or examine certain pieces of the CBA.
Olympic participation has been an issue since International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach has expressed reluctance to cover certain out-of-pocket expenses for NHL players attending the event. Accommodation is one of the big issues, but coverage of insurance and travel is also on the table.
The IOC and the IIHF have covered these costs since 1998 when NHL participation first took to the Olympics, but the league and the owners have been reluctant to participate in the Games at Pyeongchang for a number of reasons. They aren’t fans of “disrupting” the NHL season for two weeks and don’t like the time change in South Korea, which they believe will impact ratings for the Olympics.
With the IOC’s reluctance to cover costs and ownership’s reluctance to interrupt their season, Olympic participation has seemed a bubble issue for the last while.
But the IOC has softened its stance on coverage somewhat, which has taken away some of the NHL’s ammunition against participation.
And the players largely anticipate participation in the Games, with individuals like Alex Ovechkin vowing to attend the Olympics whether or not NHL involvement is guaranteed.
With scheduling on the table, the owners are expected to come to a decision regarding the Olympics soon. The board of governors is meeting next week in Florida, where it’s anticipated that Olympic participation will be on the table.