The NHLPA has rejected the NHL’s offer of allowing players to go to the 2018 Olympics in return for an extension of the current collective bargaining agreement.
The Canadian Press reported that NHLPA executive director Don Fehr “says that the players, primarily the executive board, showed no interest in the idea.”
In the piece, Fehr also said he hopes “we’ll still be able to conclude an agreement to go to the Olympics.”
The current CBA, which was negotiated during a lockout that wiped out almost half the 2012-13 season, expires on Sept. 15, 2022. Both the NHL and NHLPA have the option to opt out of the current deal in 2020. If the league decides to do this, it needs to notify the NHLPA by Sept. 1, 2019. If the Players’ Association wants to opt out, it must tell the league by Sept. 19, 2019. The CP reported the extension offer was for an extra three years of the current deal.
Overall, league player’s didn’t seem keen on the idea of taking such an offer without a chance to talk about some elements they’d like to see changed in the current CBA. Players don’t like the escrow system and that is reportedly a component they’d like to discuss when this current deal expires.
“That’s not negotiating. It’s not,” Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic said when he was asked by CSN Bay Area about the offer. “As an athlete, it’s your right to go to the Olympics. I don’t know if (the report) is true. I hope it’s not. That’s not the way you negotiate things. But, if that is true, all of a sudden they don’t mind having a two-week break in the NHL for a three-year collective bargaining agreement.”
Said Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand to the Boston Herald, “If we can make it work on both sides I can’t see why we’d be opposed to it.
“But we can’t just sign it. There are things that need to be changed.”
The NHL had been lukewarm on Olympic participation at the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea in part because of the IOC’s decision to not pay players’ insurance or transportation along with game lack of visibility because of the timezone.
Also, in the past, the league had said it didn’t believe prior Olympic experiences provided a major financial gain to offset the NHL shutting down for two weeks.
“Olympic participation hasn’t done a lot for the National Hockey League, and for the clubs. It’s obviously a big global stage, and probably the top global stage. But it hasn’t translated to our business,” deputy commissioner Bill Daly said last September.
Last November at meeting in New York, it was reported that the IIHF would come up with the money for insurance and transportation so NHL players could play in the Games. Still, this gesture did not lead to a deal with the NHL at that time.
The NHL has reportedly been more interested in the 2022 Olympics in Beijing because of China’s large population and vast economy. TSN’s Darren Dreger recently reported the NHL has been in discussions with the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks about a potential game in Shanghai or Beijing.
The Kings said talks about a game were in a “preliminary stage” but that “there’s definite interest in the China marketplace.”
NHL players have often bullish on Olympic participation. Most notably, Washington Capitals star forward Alex Ovechkin has said he will go to the 2018 Games even if the NHL decides it won’t stop play to allow players to participate.
More information about Olympic participation will likely be learned after the NHL’s Board of Governors meeting next week in South Florida.
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