Why NHL Players Reportedly Can’t Attend Olympics On Individual Basis

There are a handful of players who seemed open to going


Dec 22, 2021

The NHL won’t be sending its players to the Olympics, and while there appeared to be a fair dose of skepticism among some about going, there were others who were willing to take risk.

Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron expressed trepidation over a week ago, as things began heading in the direction of cancelling NHL players’ participation. But in the days leading up to the official announcement, others, like Connor Hellebuyck, Sidney Crosby and Steven Stamkos all made remarks that seemed to hint at disappointment in NHL players not going.

It’s fair to ask, then, why can’t the NHL allow players to just decide on their own instead of making a unilateral decision?

Setting aside the logistical nightmare that could potentially cause, the reasoning actually is quite simple, explained SportsNet’s Elliotte Friedman on Tuesday.

“There were some players who asked if it would still be possible to go to the Olympics on an individual basis,” Friedman wrote. “That was possible if the decision was left to the players. But, because this was the NHL’s call, that option is closed.”

The decision for NHL players to go to the Olympics for the first time since 2014 was a largely player-driven move. The agreement to allow for that happened last year when the NHL and NHLPA renegotiated the CBA during the COVID-19 shutdown, but it always allowed for the possibility of the decision to be changed. The rise in cases recently, which forced the current pause on the season, coupled with the lengthy quarantine for players who test positive for the virus while at the Olympics ultimately made things impractical.

That said, it does appear the league and union are by and large in agreement on the decision not to go, so it does not seem as though the NHL kicked the doors in and said “No, we’re not doing this.” Instead, it sounds more like both sides agreed it just wasn’t the right move.

Thumbnail photo via David E. Klutho/USA TODAY Sports Images
NHL Minnesota Wild/ Olympics Team Russia forward Kirill Kaprizov
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