PLYMOUTH, Mich — One day after the NHL announced, “the case is officially closed” that its players won’t be participating in the 2018 Olympic Games in South Korea, there’s a blanket reaction among the female hockey players who’ll be participating there next year.
As Team USA’s Amanda Kessel said: “I’m really bothered by it.”
The 2016 Olympic silver medallist – whose Team USA is in the midst of trying to defend its world championship title, now 3-0 heading into Thursday’s semi-final – hadn’t had a chance to speak to older brother Phil about the news.
“I’m disappointed,” Kessel said. “To me, the Olympics, they’re so cool. It’s the best people in the world from every country. It’s the one time you can bring every country together for something great.”
Fellow Team USA player Kelli Stack saw the news on ESPN last night, after her team’s 5-3 victory over Finland here to close out group play.
“Obviously, it’s not what you wanna see,” says Stack, a centreman who was also on America’s silver-medal winning squad in Sochi.
Kendall Coyne, whose six points in three games here – three goals, three assists – ranks second overall in tournament scoring, called the decision “heartbreaking.”
“It’s disappointing that the best players in the world won’t be on the ice on the men’s side come 2018, and it’s also a lost opportunity for the NHL to help grow a market in South Korea, to grow hockey,” Coyne said. “Not to bring the best of the best, I think it’s a shame to the values of the Olympic Games.”
Alex Carpenter, whose dad Bobby played 18 NHL seasons, says she wouldn’t be surprised if some players decide to go anyway.
“I know a lot love going, and it means a lot to represent their country,” Carpenter said.
Kessel says if the NHL’s decision stands, she’ll miss getting to watch the NHLers play live, for their countries.
“They’re people you look up to,” she says. “I think the hockey there is unbelievable, it’s a different level that you don’t get anywhere else.”