National Hockey League not to Olympics

The NHL last met with the IOC and the International Ice Hockey Federation in early February but talks have so far been unsuccessful and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said this week it was unlikely the players will travel to South Korea.

"From our standpoint, there may not be any next steps", Bettman said. "Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time but we have been unable to quantify any benefit from it".

The NHL's main issues with Olympic participation centre on a need for it to shut down its season for 2½ weeks, along with concerns about player injuries.

The NHL has sent its players to the Olympics since 1998, but Bettman has reported that the majority of owners have grown tired of the hardships that result from the NHL shutting down the regular season for an extended period to accommodate Olympic participation.

Bettman, speaking at a sports business conference, suggested the IOC's appeals to the NHL's sense of Olympic spirit would not be sufficient in light of the poor business case.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of this standoff is the revelation that Japanese tire maker Bridgestone - which doubles as a major National Hockey League sponsor and IOC Top Sponsor - is attempting to be a catalyst to bring the two sides together. "Maybe if we could promote the fact that we are there", he said. It didn't resonate at all.

The NHL chief reviewed a litany of drawbacks.

Moreover, the games would interrupt the league's regular season during an important stretch after the United States football Super Bowl finale is played and before the U.S. baseball season kicks in. "NHL is a commercial league and a delay would cost them greatly in financial terms as we speak about business here". Bettman estimated a league-wide vote would go 550 to 150 against going.

The current winds blowing around the hockey world are that the NHL players will ultimately go, but that the NHL is going to push this thing to seconds before midnight to see if it can grab an inch from the aforementioned parties.

"I hope they do not make the mistake not to come".

Several players have said they would go whether or not the league participates.

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