The chances of the NHL participating at the 2018 Olympics seem to be diminishing by the day, especially after commissioner Gary Bettman argued over the weekend that participating hurts the NHL product.
The center of the dispute as to whether or not the NHL will send its players continues to be the expenses required to send them now that the IOC has refused to cover them as they have in the past.
During the All-Star weekend in Los Angeles several players were asked about the Olympics and several of the league’s biggest stars, including Pittsburgh Penguins forward Sidney Crosby and Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid spoke in favor of participating.
There was perhaps no player that had stronger words in support of Olympic participation than Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews.
Toews was asked about being a part of a great generation of Canadian hockey and his concern about now being able to continue to build that legacy on the Olympic stage.
“I don’t think it’s just about Canadians wanting to go to the Olympics. Every guy at the NHL level wants to represent their country at that level,” Toews said
“If you ask me I don’t think you can really compare it to the world cup or the world championships, the Olympics is a whole other thing. Quite frankly, I think to turn on the Olympics next year and watch the hockey teams, the player representing their country, if it’s not the best in the world, then I don’t know, I just feel like we’re misrepresenting our sport on a pretty huge scale, and pretty huge level. A lot of the talk has been it’s just the players that are pushing for it, it’s the players that are interested in wanting to go. I think the players do want to go but I think it should be of interest to the players and the league, and I think the NHL should be there for sure.”
You can see Toews’ entire All-Star media session here. The Olympics talk begins about two minutes in.
NHL players have participated in the Olympics since the 1998 games in Nagano, Japan.
Toews has represented Canada at the 2010 and 2014 games where they won the Gold Medal both times.
The NHL is currently working on two different schedules for the 2017-18 season, one that contains an Olympics break built in and one that does not.