Brad Marchand took to Twitter Tuesday afternoon to follow up on his comments about NHL players not participating in the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
The Bruins forward questioned how the league and NHLPA could change the Collective Bargaining Agreement to allow “taxi squads” but not do the same during the Olympics. Why can’t players go to the Olympics in February while NHL teams play on with added players, he wondered.
“The NHL and NHLPA can change the rules of the cba to add a taxi squad so that they don’t miss any games and don’t lose any money… which has already been agreed upon that the players will pay back in escrow until the owners are made whole from what they have lost during this pandemic, regardless of how many games are missed… yet they can’t do a taxi squad during The Olympics so they can honor the agreement they made so the NHL players can go [to the Olympics].
“Please tell me that’s not bulls—… and for all of you who want to pipe back about forfeiting pay while being gone… yah not a problem .. let the players make their choice.”
You’ll recall that as part of the 2020 CBA, the NHL promised the NHLPA that it would attempt to make a deal with the IOC and IIHF in order to pause the 2021-22 regular season for three weeks and allow players to take part in the tournament. A deal happened but with the caveat that in agreement with the union, there was a pull-out option should there be a “material disruption” of the regular-season schedule.
[MORE: No surprise, NHL players disappointed to miss 2022 Winter Olympics]
At the time the NHL and NHLPA announced players wouldn’t be going to Beijing (Dec. 22) there had already been 50 regular-season games postponed due to COVID-19 issues. That number is now up to 70 as of Tuesday.
A call for best-on-best
Marchand’s Tweet was a continuation of his comments from Sunday when he was asked about the NHL/NHLPA decision.
“I know at the end of the day, [the NHL does not] care about the Olympics, they don’t make money on it, and that’s ultimately what this is,” Marchand said. “It’s a business and we’re an asset. Let’s just call a spade a spade.”
He’s 100% correct, but everyone knows the league’s reasons against participating (Union leadership was also understanding of the decision, too). The only reason the NHL promised to attempt to make a deal with the IOC and IIHF was because it was part of CBA negotiations, and they ended up with labor peace through at least the 2025-26 season as part of it.
Would Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs be cool with sending Marchand to Beijing while getting nothing at all in return?
Marchand wasn’t the only player to voice his opinion on a second straight Olympics without NHL players. Oilers captain Connor McDavid, one of Canada’s first three men’s players announced, called it “disappointing,” but added “we can’t dwell on it.”
Without the Olympics as an option for at least four more years, McDavid did make a plea to have of best-on-best tournament in the meantime. It’s a stage players want to be on.
“We can’t go six, seven, eight years without playing best-on-best,” said McDavid, who was part of Team North America at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. “NHL players haven’t played at the Olympics since 2014 when Canada won the gold medal. You want to play at the Olympics. For me, it’s the biggest stage in sport. Every league in sport does a version of the World Cup. The Olympics is a stage that’s such a global scale. I think everybody wants to play on that stage. The World Cup would still be a great second option.
“We just want to see best-on-best. That’s what everyone wants.”
Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.