NHL player participation in 2018 Olympics in doubt after NHLPA rejects CBA proposal
By Pat Iversen
Agreement would’ve extended the CBA until 2025 and let players play in South Korea games.
The Olympics question will remain in play for the forseeable future for the NHL and its players.
Jonas Siegal of The Brandon Sun reported on Friday the NHL Player’s Association rejected the NHL’s offer to allow 2018 Winter Olympics participation in exchange for an extension to the current Collective Bargaining Agreement.
The NHL laid out the offer two weeks ago when the two sides met with the International Ice Hockey Federation in order to come to some sort of an agreement to allow NHL players to play in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in 2018. If the NHLPA had accepted the offer, the current 2019 opt-out clause in the CBA would be eliminated, potentially extending labor peace to 2025.
In a statement, NHLPA executive director Don Fehr said players expressed little interest in the proposal.
Fehr said there was no appetite among players to extend the agreement for nine more seasons (including this one) in what would effectively be the career lifespan of most players in the league today. There were elements of the agreement, he noted, that the PA wanted to further examine before it got into bargaining.
He did remain hopeful that a deal could get done. The NHL Board of Governors meet with league owners next week in Florida, where the Olympics issue will undoubtedly come up again.
NHL players have participated in the last five Winter Olympics, but resistance from the IIHF to aid in expenses and the general wariness from owners to pause the NHL season for two weeks is complicating matters.
Specifically, International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach reportedly isn’t as warm to the idea of paying for travel and insurance expenses for the NHL players in attendance. Those costs can rise above $10 million, according to The Brandon Sun.
Bach did tell The Olympic Channel on Friday afternoon that all “rational arguments” favor a deal coming together.