Tuesday, September 25, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

NHL players won't agree to extend labor deal in exchange for Olympic participation

As expected, the Players Association rejected the NHL's offer to extend the labor deal three years in exchange for an agreement to go to the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Under the plan, the NHL would green light participation in the Games if the players agreed to extend the collective bargaining agreement by three years, to 2025, and eliminate a potential opt-out clause in the fall of 2019.

The players' participation is hung up on the NHL's insistence that the International Olympic Committee and the International Ice Hockey Federation pay expenses such as transportation and insurance, as they have since NHL players started playing in the Olympics in 1998. The IOC has been resistant to continuing the funding — which NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has said can be upward of $10 million — but the international federation has said it can find the money.

"Hopefully we'll still be able to conclude an agreement to go to the Olympics," union executive director Donald Fehr told the Canadian Press on Friday.

Because Olympic participation requires the NHL to condense its schedule, the league intends to settle the matter soon. The schedule for the 2017-18 season is in the early stages of being crafted, and Bettman said recently that a decision one way or the other was needed by early January.

Owners are wary of shutting down their season for two-plus weeks in February to accommodate the Olympics because of the requisite scheduling changes and potential for injury. For the 2018 Games, there's also a 12-plus-hour time difference between Pyeongchang and the United States, which could hurt North American TV viewership.

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