NHL stars expressed disappointment, of course, after the NHL announced it would not participate in the PyeongChang Olympics, but an important question remains largely unanswered.
Who will follow Alex Ovechkin‘s lead and declare they intend to defy the NHL and play in the Olympics anyway?
Capitals teammate and U.S. Olympic star T.J. Oshie would not answer that question Tuesday.
“When it comes down to it, I’ll make a decision about that, but as of right now, I’m staying positive, hoping we can figure something out,” Oshie said, according to ESPN.com.
Star Swedish defenseman Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators declined to answer the question Monday, according to Postmedia News in Canada, but still criticized the NHL.
“Crap, pretty much,” Karlsson said of the NHL decision, according to the report. “I don’t understand the decision. It’s very unfortunate for the game of hockey around the world that they’re going to do this to the sport. I think it’s going to hurt a lot if we don’t end up going.
“Whoever made that decision obviously has no idea what they’re doing.”
Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos is also taking a wait-and-see approach. Stamkos memorably missed the Sochi Olympics due to a fractured right tibia.
“Yeah, you can certainly have that attitude [of going to the Olympics anyway], but we don’t know exactly what the rules and regulations will be regarding that topic,” he said, according to ESPN.com. “Until you know that, you can make an informed decision at that time. Personally, there’s some time here to maybe let things settle down a little bit and reflect. Hopefully, something can change their mind.”
Blackhawks stars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews both said they would not leave the NHL club midseason to play in the Olympics, according to Chicago media.
Likewise, Capitals goalie Braden Holtby said he will not push for a Canadian Olympic team spot if the NHL’s decision is final.
“I wouldn’t be able to go away from my team here,” Holtby said. “I couldn’t do it. That’s just personal. Everyone’s priorities are kind of different.”
Another star Russian forward, Vladimir Tarasenko of the St. Louis Blues, reportedly said he would think about the situation in the summer.
The Montreal Canadiens’ Carey Price, the No. 1 goalie for Canada’s gold-medal team in Sochi, wasn’t convinced the NHL’s decision was final.
“I think there’s maybe a little bit of tactics involved,” he said. “We’ll see. The Olympics aren’t here yet.”
Henrik Lundqvist, who backstopped Sweden to gold at the 2006 Torino Olympics, was one of the first stars to comment, doing so via Twitter:
“Disappointing news, NHL won’t be part of the Olympics 2018. A huge opportunity to market the game at the biggest stage is wasted,” he said. “But most of all, disappointing for all the players that can’t be part of the most special adventure in sports.”
The most tenured active Swede, four-time Olympian Henrik Zetterberg, said the NHL “probably wants something from” the NHL players, “as always,” likely referring to a bargaining chip.
Auston Matthews, who was in line to become the youngest U.S. Olympics men’s hockey player since 1992, dismissed a question about the NHL decision but said he would have wanted to go to PyeongChang.
Buffalo Sabres leading scorer Jack Eichel echoed the disappointment sentiment.
“Obviously, as a league, we’re trying to grow our game all over the world,” he said. “I think the Olympics is a good way to do it. … To be able to play the game in other continents, other places, and allow them to see how exciting and the type of game we play, I think it’s a good opportunity.”
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