NHL players want to play in the 2018 Olympics in South Korea. They know it, fans know it, and the league knows it.
And evidently the league is trying to use this knowledge to their advantage by playing a game of “what’s it worth to you?”
According to Sportsnet.ca, the NHL proposed a three-year extension of the current CBA to the players in exchange for their participation in the 2018 Olympics. If the players agreed to the stipulation, it would ensure peace around the league until the year 2025.
This type of move isn’t entirely unprecedented, according to Sportsnet. While NHL players have participated in the past five Olympics Games, prior to playing in Nagano in 1998, both the Player’s Association and the league agreed to waive the right to re-open their CBA to ensure no labor disruption at that time.
The current CBA expires in 2022. However, both the league and Player’s Association have the option to opt out beginning in 2020. With players paying more than 15 percent of their salaries to escrow under the current CBA, it’s unlikely that players will want to extend the CBA an additional three years in exchange for playing in the Olympics—especially when the league is being pressured to send players by Olympics television partner NBC.
The main holdups preventing NHL player participation are costs associated with travel, accommodations and hospitality, and insurance premiums. Those costs were previously fronted by the International Olympics Committee, which has stated it will not cover those costs in 2018 for participants of arguably the premier event of the Winter Games.