Even though the NHL said its players will not participate in next year’s Olympics, International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel says the league could still participate if a decision is made before mid-July.
Fasel said that he is still talking to the NHL and the International Olympic Committee to broker a deal. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced last month that the NHL was closing the door on participation.
The issue with a last-minute change of plan before next February’s Games is housing.
“The problem is that the NHL always takes a large number of guests” Fasel said, according to the German newspaper Kolner Stadt-Anzeiger. “In Vancouver we had between 600 and 800 and in Sochi over 400. In South Korea, it would be similar. Gangneung does not have extra hotel rooms. We can only release these capacities by the end of June, at the latest mid-July.”
The NHL had been looking for concessions from the IOC and/or the NHL Players’ Association to make participation worthwhile for some owners who are frustrated by shutting down their league every four years during the Olympics.
With those talks going nowhere, Bettman made his announcement.
The NHL Players’ Association called the decision “shortsighted.” Individual players also blasted Bettman’s announcement.
USA Hockey responded that the organization still plans to compete in South Korea.
Hockey Canada announced that it had a “Plan A and a Plan B” and would move ahead with preparation for the Games.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.