Gary Bettman: No going back on NHL Olympic decision

Gary Bettman
AP
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NHL commissioner Gary Bettman reportedly left no doubt Friday.

Bettman said the NHL will not participate in the PyeongChang Olympics, even if a new, sweetened deal is offered by the International Olympic Committee, according to the Chicago Tribune.

“We’re not going,” Bettman told media Friday in New York, according to the newspaper. “That decision has been made.”

The NHL has taken a break in its season to send the world’s best players to the Olympics at every Winter Games since 1998.

The NHL said in an April 3 statement that streak is over and considered the Olympic matter “officially closed.”

The following day, Bettman didn’t rule out the possibility that the NHL could change its mind, if concessions were made, in his first public comments on the decision.

The NHL wanted a concession from the IOC, International Ice Hockey Federation or the NHL Players’ Association to entice owners and officials to take a break in its season to accommodate the Olympics for a sixth straight time.

The NHL made clear for months its stance — it would not break for the Olympics if the status quo didn’t change. The NHL said no meaningful dialogue materialized over a number of months.

Russian star Alex Ovechkin said two weeks ago that he planned to defy the NHL (and his contract) and go to PyeongChang anyway. Other Russian NHL stars also hope they can join Ovechkin.

Bettman challenged Ovechkin’s comments, saying Friday it was unlikely any NHL players will be in PyeongChang, according to the Chicago Tribune.

“We’re confident our players will remain with their teams,” Bettman said, according to the newspaper.

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