NHLPA’s Fehr: Players want to play in Olympics

The off-season is busy for Donald Fehr but he took some time to join us in studio to talk NHL expansion, World Cup of Hockey and high stakes negotiations.

NHL players competing at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympics certainly isn’t the most important storyline in hockey these days – expansion, off-season transactions and managerial moves are – but it’s still a topic many are interested in.

NHLers have competed at the Olympics since the 1998 Nagano Games, but there is no agreement in place for the 2018 Games and some believe the return of the World Cup of Hockey in 2016 diminishes the chances of NHLers going back to the Olympics.

Donald Fehr, the NHLPA’s executive director, was a guest on Tim and Sid Wednesday where he discussed a number of topics including how the World Cup might impact the Olympic men’s ice hockey tourney in 2018.

“They’re radically different in two different respects,” Fehr said. “The first is that the World Cup is an event which is hockey only. You don’t have any competition, you don’t have anything else. And I say that even though men’s ice hockey is basically the centerpiece of the Winter Olympics these days, even outside of Canada. You start with that.

“The second thing is obviously the Olympics are an IOC event and you’re talking about traditionally at least expenses being covered and those kinds of things. You’re not talking about generating revenue. Players like it if we generate more revenue. They have limited careers, obviously they want to try and get it back.”

Fehr added that he doesn’t feel the two tournaments are mutually exclusive, meaning NHL players wouldn’t have to choose one over the other.

“If you look at the FIFA World Cup – and forget FIFA for the moment since they’re not on the high point of everybody’s list these days – what you see is that is the preeminent event. It is not the Olympics. I don’t know what’s going to happen in hockey. I think they can both exist. The players really want to play in both.”

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