Will NHL players participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea? It’s one of the big questions surrounding the league right now, but there has yet to be a definitive answer.
The International Olympic Committee previously set a Jan. 15 deadline for a decision, while IIHF president René Fasel previously stated there is a 50/50 chance NHL players will participate. Meanwhile, the NHLPA has already rejected a proposal from the league to extend the current CBA in exchange for participation in the 2018 Olympics.
And yet, amidst the ongoing saga, the executive director of the NHLPA, Donald Fehr, has recently put an optimistic tone on the topic.
“I’m more optimistic now that I ever have been, at least as far as we’re concerned, that we’ll be able to reach an appropriate agreement with the IIHF to allow for the players to go,” Fehr told reporters, as per ESPN.
“So I assume there will be further discussions over the course of the next several weeks and I choose to be optimistic on this one. We’ll see.'”
NHL owners don’t feel the same way — a point reiterated by hockey insider Darren Dreger on Wednesday.
“Unless there is a game-changer that sways the owners, then that attitude is going to remain consistent; that the NHL will not be going to South Korea. And by ‘game-changer’, we’re talking about something perhaps CBA related, which Don Fehr says is too complicated. It would take months to negotiate something like that. Or, a huge financial gain from the IOC or Olympic-related to persuade the NHL owners. And at this stage, that seems like a long shot.”
Canada has won gold in ice hockey at each of the last two Winter Olympics.