The great Olympic hockey question is still without an answer.
And according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, it could still be a while before we know if we’ll be seeing NHL players hit the ice at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Friedman provided an update during Saturday’s Headlines segment on Hockey Night in Canada, calling the situation “a stalemate.”
“There was a rumour going around that the Players’ Association was going to agree to a 19-year-old draft in exchange for going. I checked that, and I was told that’s not true,” Friedman explained. “And as a matter of fact, the Players’ Association reiterated that they don’t feel they have to give up anything to go to the Olympics.
“All I can tell you is that it’s a stalemate,” he said. “There was supposed to be some sort of Olympic meeting in the near future, a conversation about it, and that was cancelled toward the end of last week. There’s nothing scheduled.”
Friedman noted that prior to the Sochi Games in 2014, the NHL’s participation wasn’t officially announced until July 2013, meaning there is still time.
“But from what I understand,” he explained, “the handshake was done in February and then they negotiated the parameters.”
The Olympics have been on many peoples’ minds lately, especially as we’re just coming off the GM meetings this past week. Players have been vocal about it, too. On Friday, Philadelphia Flyers forward Jakub Voracek said he found the whole ordeal “stupid” and “absolutely ridiculous.”
“It’s the Olympics,” Voracek said, via CSN Philly. “It’s not just about business. You want to be part of the Olympics. And trust me, players want to go. And the players who don’t go get a week off to recharge their batteries. If you have bumps and bruises, you can heal and recover.
“The players want to go, I guarantee you that. I want to see how you are going to hold [Alex] Ovechkin back. The Russian players. Tell them they can’t go.”
According to Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos, Voracek’s boss was not impressed.
“There’s no question Ron Hextall was not very happy with those comments,” Kypreos said. “He found it to be a bit of a distraction for a team that’s trying to make the playoffs.”
But as Kypreos pointed out, Voracek’s opinion “speaks volumes to where the Olympics is with this current generation.”
“There’s the Stanley Cup and then there’s the Olympics, and then there’s everything else,” said Kypreos. “For our generation when it was introduced in 1998, it was something that we grew to love as a country. Now, these players like Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews, they grew up with the Olympics. So it is very important that they get their crack at participating as well.
“I think maybe that’s just the start of it,” he added. “I think we’ll hear from a few more players.”
One other piece worth noting in the Olympic conversation is the proposed exhibition games in China.
“That’s going to be L.A. and Vancouver in the exhibition games in China, and I believe those are going to happen regardless of whether or not they go to the Oympics,” said Friedman. “I believe it’s the start of a bigger footprint there.”