With the 2018 Winter Olympics right around the corner, it would be ideal to know if professional hockey players are going to represent their respective countries at the winter games in South Korea. The Commissioner of Hockey, Gary Bettman seems to be opposed with the idea of using professional hockey players at the Winter Olympics.
According to Bettman, there are two main reasons a decision has not been made on using professional hockey players at the Winter Olympics. The reasons are how to pay the travel expenses, and insurances. Bettman in so many words is trying to say that money appears to be the root of the problem.
Players such as Philadelphia Flyers forward Jakub Voracek have publicly announced that he is in favor of participating in the event, regardless of the money issues. In 2014, Voracek was quoted as saying, “A hundred percent I’d go. You’re going to another part of the world to show your best players – (Sidney) Crosby, (Connor) McDavid. It shows the game to different people, a different community.”
Voracek is fed up that a decision has not yet been made. To his defense, a decision needs to be made sooner rather than later. This can boil into something that Bettman will regret for the future state of the NHL.
The current collective bargaining agreement for hockey is set to expire on September 15, 2022. On November 16, 2016, Bettman proposed a three year extension to the collective bargaining agreement, in exchange for professionals to be used in the sport of hockey during the 2018 Winter Olympic games in South Korea. On December 4, 2016 the NHLPA rejected Bettman’s proposal. President of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach finally met one on one with Bettman on February 3, 2017. After the meeting Bach had this to say:
“Hopefully this has prepared the ground for successful negotiations between the N.H.L. and international federation. Of course, we all want see the best players at the Olympic Winter Games Pyeongchang 2018, and we know the players feel the same. Therefore, we hope even more that the international federation and the N.H.L. will reach a solution to make the Olympic dreams of the players come true.”
While speaking to the media on March 9, 2017, Voracek stated his displeasure of how the negotiations are going. He states:
“It’s stupid and I find it absolutely ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous. We have it once every four years. I read something that Bill Daly said we’re not going. Nobody wants you to go. The players want to go. Why you’re saying you’re not going? You’re not part of the players association. … Nobody wants you there. They want the players.
Voracek is at his boiling point, and no one can blame him. Bettman knew this backlash might happen, as the players are left pondering until he comes to a decision.
Voracek further states, “It’s the Olympics. It’s not just about business. You want to be part of the Olympics. And trust me, players want to go. And the players who don’t go get a week off to recharge their batteries. If you have bumps and bruises, you can heal and recover.The players want to go, I guarantee you that. I want to see how you are going to hold [Alex] Ovechkin back. The Russian players. Tell them they can’t go.”
With popular players leaving for the KHL in Russia, Bettman is faced with a tough decision. Players and fans alike understand its not an easy decision to make. However, delaying this decision can only prevent people from booking hotel rooms, and purchasing tickets for hockey related events at the games. Bettman has had so much time to address this issue, so it’s time he man up and make a decision for the future state of the NHL. I pose this question to Flyers fans…would you like to see professional hockey players represent their respective nations at the Olympic games in 2018?
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Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports