Not long after Isles captain John Tavares was ruled out for the year with a knee injury suffered at the Olympics, his GM went on the offensive.
“Are the IIHF or IOC going to reimburse our season ticket holders now?” Snow asked, per Newsday. “It’s a joke. They want all the benefits from NHL players in Olympics and don’t want to pay when our best player gets hurt.”
Tavares, 23, tore his MCL and meniscus during Canada’s 2-1 win over Latvia on Wednesday, thanks to a hit from ex-Winnipeg defenseman Arturs Kulda in the second period. It’s the first major injury of Tavares’ career — a Hart Trophy nominee in ’13, he’s only missed three games (concussion) since breaking in during the 2009-10 campaign.
He’s the fifth NHL player to go down to injury during the Sochi Games. Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg (back), Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello (hand) and Florida’s Tomas Kopecky (head) and Aleksander Barkov (knee) were also hurt while in Russia, and their outlooks for return are murky.
Fear of injury is one of the reason NHL owners have been leery about sending players to the Olympics. Commissioner Gary Bettman is always quick to point out NHLers are “invited guests” of the IOC when it comes to the Winter Games, and that players are treated the same as any other participating athletes.
That isn’t doing much to appease Snow, however.
“It wouldn’t matter if we were 10 points up on a playoff spot or 10 points out,” he fumed. “We lost our best player and he wasn’t playing for us.”
Update: According to the New York Daily News, the Isles will receive something in the way of compensation…
According to a spokesman from the NHL players association, nothing changes for an injured Olympic player from a salary front. For the team, his salary is covered by the insurance coverage that was paid for by IOC.
If players need surgery – like Tavares most certainly will – the spokesman said he’d imagine that it would fall under insurance as well, which the IOC would cover.