NHL Participation in 2018 Games Hits Snag

NHL players have participated in the Olympics since Nagano 1998. Their future participation is in doubt over who will cover insurance and transportation costs.

We are past the midway point between the 2014 Sochi Olympics and the 2018 edition, scheduled to take place in PyeongChang, South Korea. News came out today that discussions between the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the National Hockey League (NHL) has hit turbulence after the IOC said they will not cover transportation and insurance cost of NHL players in 2018 as they have done in the previous five Olympics.

International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) President Fasel told Inside The Games that “We had a meeting with the NHL last week and the prognosis is not really good.”

The prognosis centers around the IOC not covering transportation and insurance costs of the players in case they get injured at the games. The NHL temporarily suspends their season during the Olympics. The insurance is a key issue, as what New York Islanders fans experienced in 2014 when John Tavares suffered a torn MCL and meniscus in his left knee while he was with Team Canada. A New York Daily News story from 2014 reported that salaries and surgery costs for Tavares and New York Rangers and Norwegian international Mats Zuccarello was covered by the policy, it’s understandable from the NHL and NHLPA’s perspective to want the insurance in place if the IOC wants the best (and highest paid) hockey players in the world to play.

That same story from 2014 quoted Islanders GM Gath Snow, who was angered by his best player being injured at the Olympics. “Are the IIHF or IOC going to reimburse our season-ticket holders now?” Snow said. “It’s a joke. They want all the benefits from NHL players in the Olympics and don’t want to pay when our best player gets hurt.

Only time will tell if we will see NHL players in future Olympics.

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