Sidney Crosby. (Getty Images)
There may be new financial hurdles that could keep the NHL from sending its players to the 2018 Olympics, according to IIHF president Rene Fasel. A new report has Fasel saying insurance and travel costs could be major issues standing in the way of a best-on-best tournament in PyeongChang.
The 2016 World Cup of Hockey could be the closest hockey fans come to watching a best-on-best international hockey tournament as it appears the chance of NHL participation at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics may have become slimmer.
According to insidethegames.biz, IIHF president Rene Fasel acknowledged there are some new financial hurdles between the NHL and International Olympic Committee which could make the NHL hesitant about sending players for the 2018 games. Namely, the IOC has reportedly elected not to pay transportation or insurance costs to have the NHL athletes at the games.
"We had a meeting with the NHL last week and the prognosis is not really good,” Fasel told insidethegames. "Our wish is to have the best players. [But the IOC] not covering the cost as they did at the last five Olympic Games puts us in a difficult financial situation. We still have challenges — it is even more difficult than before.”
Several players have come forward and stated publicly they want the NHL to go to the 2018 games, but no one with as much star power as Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin. Ovechkin, 30, has participated at a dozen international competitions as a pro player, and he said players would head to South Korea for the 2018 Olympics if a deal was in place or not.
“The same situation was with the (2014) Sochi Games, they said NHL could not be allowed to come,” Ovechkin told TASS in August. “I hope the sides will reach an agreement. Anyway, I and other players will definitely come [to the 2018 Olympics].”
insidethegames reported that the IOC and IIHF were believed to have combined to contribute roughly $32 million for NHL players to suit up for the Sochi Olympics, with $14 million coming from the IOC. Fasel said, however, he believes that figure can be dropped significantly for the 2018 Games, possibly to as low as $10 million. Fasel told insidethegames that he understands why the decision was made, though, and recognizes the difficulties both sides face.
“[Hockey is] the only winter team sport," Fasel told insidethegames. "The NHL has to shut down the league for nearly three weeks which is huge in February. There is also a risk of injuries. The good point is that the players want to come, they want to be part of the Olympics, so we are trying to find solutions. It’s not easy.”
If the NHL decides not to send players, it would mark the first time since 1998 the league has not participated in the Olympics.