The International Ice Hockey Federation has asked the National Hockey League to reach a decision before the end of April regarding their intention to participate in the 2018 Winter Games held in South Korea.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 23, 2017
NHL Olympics: IIHF Imposes Deadline to NHL Regarding Participation
IIHF President Rene Fasel said “I hope we can find a compromise in the next two or three weeks.”
This deadline was implemented to give the National teams enough time to recruit and prepare their players for next year’s games in Pyeongchang. Having known if the NHL players will be eligible by May 1st will give them time to go get their best players in either junior leagues, or other professional teams worldwide.
In an email sent to the Associated Press, Deputy Commissioner of the NHL Bill Daly stated that “In the absence of any material change to the current status quo, NHL players will not be participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics.”
The league’s officials as well as owners have shown their disinterest in stopping the season for a few weeks for the players to go play in the Olympics. Another concern for each of the franchises’ management teams is the possibility of players getting injured while on international duty, possibly hurting their team’s chances at making the playoffs. Another reason for their stance on the issue is the fact that there isn’t much to gain from promoting the league in South Korea, and the fact that the time difference will make it that the games would be broadcasted at night in North America.
However, the players and coaches have an other opinion on the matter. According to Donald Fehr, the head of the NHLPA, all players have chosen to support the participation in the Olympic Games. Their national pride and their desire to win Olympic gold are the main reason they want to take part in this competition.