The NHL decided Monday not to participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics. And that’s fine with the Golden Knights.
Bill Foley, the Golden Knights’ majority owner has said several times he didn’t want his team’s inaugural season interrupted for two weeks and many of his fellow owners felt the same way. Commissioner Gary Bettman said on several occasions he wasn’t feeling a strong desire by the owners to stop the season and go to South Korea.
For the Golden Knights, it means not having their first season stopped, then re-started. It also means the NHL will play its All-Star Game in 2018 and the team can submit a bid to the NHL to host. Foley has said he would like to see Las Vegas host All-Star Weekend but he didn’t think it would happen in the first year of the franchise.
But one team will get to host it and the Golden Knights will have a representative participating in the game.
Reached by text Monday afternoon while boarding a flight to New Zealand from Pago Pago, Foley said he wasn’t aware of the NHL’s decision and said he didn’t know enough about the situation to comment.
But general manager George McPhee said in a text: “While there has been mixed reaction to the announcement that NHL players will not participate in the Winter Olympics in 2018, we find it very positive that fans of the Vegas Golden Knights will not experience any interruptions to our schedule this season and the schedule will now be released earlier.”
In a war of words, the NHL and the league’s Players Association stated their cases.
“We have previously made clear that, while the overwhelming majority of our clubs are adamantly opposed to disrupting the 2017-18 NHL season for purposes of accommodating Olympic participation by some NHL players, we were open to hearing from any of the other parties who might have an interest in the issue as to reasons the Board of Governors might be interested in re-evaluating their strongly held views on the subject,” the league said in a statement. “A number of months have now passed and no meaningful dialogue has materialized. Instead, the IOC has now expressed the position that the NHL’s participation in Beijing in 2022 is conditioned on our participation in South Korea in 2018. “As a result, and in an effort to create clarity among conflicting reports and erroneous speculation, this will confirm our intention to proceed with finalizing our 2017-18 regular season schedule without any break to accommodate the Olympic Winter Games. We now consider the matter officially closed.”
The NHL Players Association issued its own release ripping the decision.
“The players are extraordinarily disappointed and adamantly disagree with the NHL’s shortsighted decision to not continue our participation in the Olympics,” the PA’s statement said in part. “Any sort of inconvenience the Olympics may cause to next season’s schedule is a small price to pay compared to the opportunity to showcase our game and our greatest players on this enormous international stage.”
Contact Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2913. Follow @stevecarprj on Twitter.
WILL USA PLAY?
The NHL’s decision to not participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics means tough choices for USA Hockey and all the other federations. The Americans will field a team in South Korea, but its roster will look a lot like the ones prior to 1998 in Nagano, Japan. Expect the following players to be recruited for Team USA:
* Undrafted junior players
* College players who have not signed with an NHL team
* Minor league players
* Former NHL players no longer under contract
* Americans playing in professional leagues overseas such as Switzerland, Russia, Austria, Sweden and Germany