Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews offered one of the most insightful takes to date on whether the NHL should send players to the PyeongChang Olympics.
“Quite frankly, I think to turn on the Olympics next year and watch the hockey teams, the players representing their country, if it’s not the best in the world, then I don’t know, I just feel like we’re misrepresenting our sport on a pretty huge scale and a pretty huge level,” Toews told media after the NHL All-Star Game in Los Angeles on Sunday. “A lot of the talk has been, it’s just the players that are pushing for it, it’s the players that are interested in wanting to go. I think the players do want to go, but I think it should be of interest to the players and the league. I think the NHL should be there for sure.”
Add Toews, who earned gold with Canada in 2010 and 2014, to a list of NHL superstars who have said they want to play in the Olympics. Ultimately, NHL officials will decide whether to take a break in the 2017-18 season to send players to the Olympics for a sixth straight time.
There was talk in the fall of an end-of-January deadline, but that appears out the window now. That’s no surprise, given NHL participation in Sochi wasn’t decided until July 2013.
But players can still take matters into their own hands. Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin has said he will play for Russia in PyeongChang regardless of if he has the NHL’s blessing, and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis has supported that stance.
Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid, the NHL points leader at the All-Star break, is hoping to go to his first Olympics in PyeongChang.
“One hundred percent, [NHL players] should go,” McDavid said. “I can’t picture the Olympics without it, to be honest.”
Sidney Crosby has been less emphatic about the NHL Olympic situation, taking a wait-and-see approach.Follow @nzaccardi