NHL undecided on 2018 Games entry

By AFP – Global Times Source:AFP - Global Times Published: 2014-2-18 23:43:01

The National Hockey League (NHL) cast doubt on who will be battling for the Olympic gold medal in 2018, saying it has not decided whether to ­allow its players to compete in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said Tuesday that more negotiations are needed before deciding whether NHL stars will take part in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.

"It [NHL players participation] is important," said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

"But you are making it sound that if NHL players were not participating there wouldn't be a hockey tournament. There would be. It would just be a little different."

Speaking at a news conference inside the Bolshoi Ice Dome during the ongoing ­Sochi Games, Bettman said the NHL finds it difficult to stop for over two weeks in the middle of the season, especially when the Games isn't in North America.

NHL players have been competing in the Winter Games since 1998.

"We have been very clear the decision is a balancing act," Bettman said. "What we do next is something we will all have to reason on.

"This is the fifth time we will participate in the Olympics. It is all about the concerns and what makes sense to the ­organizing committee, the IOC, NHL, NHL players association and the players."

International Ice Hockey Federation President Rene ­Fasel says he welcomes the NHL participation in ­Pyeongchang and looks forward to more talks with the NHL.

Some of the concerns of NHL owners include lost ticket revenues and injuries to key players.

Bettman said Tuesday that 40 percent of tickets sales for all athletic events at the 2010 Vancouver Games were hockey tickets and that 60 to 70 percent of all ticket revenues in the Games came from the ice hockey tournament.

This is the longest break the NHL has ever had to take ­because of the Olympic Games.

The NHL sent 150 players to Sochi, including at least one player on each of the 12 teams in the men's tournament.

NHL finds it much easier to send players to an Olympic Games in North America for several reason including the time change.

Like Sochi, four years from now in South Korea there will be a time change problem because Pyeongchang is 14 hours ahead of the eastern seaboard of the US.

AFP - Global Times

Posted in: Olympics, Hockey

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