Canada's women ponder first Winter Olympics without their National Hockey League counterparts

NEW YORK-The National Hockey League announced Monday that it will not shut down its regular season to allow top players to compete at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

And not every player is willing to listen to their team, like Washington Capital and Russian Federation star Alex Ovechkin.

"If Alex Ovechkin and Braden Holtby and Nick Backstrom tell us, 'We want to go play for our country, ' how am I going to say no?"

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 worldwide stage.

The NHL had sent players to the past five Winter Olympics, starting with the Nagano Games in 1998, interrupting the season to do so.

Although the NHL could be using Monday's announcement as a bargaining chip in search of a better deal, the league's statement said, "We now consider the matter officially closed".

"They're the best players in the world", Curtis, an Edmonton hockey fan, said. The NHL has not decided whether to allow teams to make decisions on a case-by-case basis about players participating in the 2018 Olympics.

"Everything can change. But I am going no matter what".

The NHL may not plan on being at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, but Alex Ovechkin does.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has repeatedly stated that there is no tangible benefit to the league shutting down its season for more than two weeks in February - a time when football is over and baseball hasn't started - and there's obviously a huge risk of losing a player to injury in worldwide play.

"I'm disappointed", Kessel said. The NHL sought more concessions, but the International Olympic Committee would not concede a share of marketing rights to a commercial league. While the 2022 Beijing Games are seen as more appealing in that sense, it's worth remembering South Korea has a population of more than 50 million and is just one hour ahead of China's capital.

My inkling is that Bob will want to go back and play again for his country.

Although he's the first player to publicly state he'll attend the Olympics, even against the NHL's wishes, others have spoken out about the decision.

"We have to remember that some of the greatest Olympic moments didn't involve National Hockey League players at all", IIHF President Rene Fasel said in a statement. "Shorter summers, longer seasons, but that's OK".

Team Canada poses for a team photo after defeating Sweden to win the gold medal at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia on Sunday, February 23, 2014.

The Olympic environment is like no other for an athlete, so Johnston is ready to give the men the benefit of her experience.

While Hockey Canada hasn't said exactly how it will ice a team without NHL involvement, Canada's sport minister remains confident the country can still be competitive. There's a lot of time for something to happen, so we'll see.

"They don't come around very often, every four years, and when you get your chance, it's pretty cool to be a part of", Pavelski said.

Other players have expressed their unhappiness with the NHL's decision.

  • Julie Sanders