While we’re edging closer to a deal that would end the NHL lockout, Commissioner Gary Bettman and the owners have yet to address whether the pros will be allowed to compete in the Olympics.
An NHL executive told thefourthperiod.com that it “hasn’t been discussed,” but according to NHL Hall-of-Famer Slava Fetisov, the league may attempt to block its players from the Sochi Games.
“I have a feeling [the NHL] will ban players’ travel in all international competition,” Fetisov told Sport-Express, a Russian paper. “Bettman is not interested in anything except their own Stanley Cup.”
A number of top NHL players, including Russian stars Evgeni Malkin and Alex Ovechkin, have expressed their desire to compete in Sochi next winter, with Ovechkin threatening to leave the league if he’s barred from playing in his home country’s Games.
The problem, of course, is that the league will either be forced to take roughly three weeks off to appease the players, or spend three weeks of the season without its stars, neither of which is attractive to the owners.
We don’t imagine this will be a make-or-break issue of the talks, but the fact that something so sensitive to the players has yet to be discussed means the talks may not be as close to over as we thought.