MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty has joined the chorus of players speaking out about the possibility the NHL won’t participate in the 2018 Olympics.
“People want to see us go, we want to go,” said Pacioretty, who represented the United States at the 2014 Sochi Games. “I think it helps the league. I know it helps the league. It helps the teams, it helps the marketing, it helps—especially people are talking about— international viewers and fans of the league. So for me it’s a no-brainer that players should be there and players should go.”
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, speaking at the Sport Business Summit in New York, told Reuters earlier on Tuesday that NHL participation in Pyeongchang, South Korea didn’t seem likely.
“As things stand now people should assume we are not going,” Bettman said.
Bettman cited the International Olympic Committee’s unwillingness to pay for insurance and transport for the players as a reason negotiations are currently at a standstill.
“When the IOC comes to us and says, ‘by the way we know it cost $15 to $20 million to send your players between insurance, charter costs and accommodations for the players’ … well we’re not going to pay for that.
“If they don’t value our participation why are we going?”
Pacioretty believes Bettman is just posturing.
“Everything’s a negotiation for some reason, that’s the world we live in now,” said Pacioretty. “I’m not surprised he’s saying that, because that’s what you do when you negotiate. But I would expect us to be there.
“He’s a smart guy. That’s what you do. You never try and fold or give up too much too easily. That’s what smart negotiators do, but players want to go, and we’ve heard rumblings of owners wanting players to go. It’s no surprise. We’ll see what happens, but I expect us to be there.”