It is no secret that the overwhelming majority of NHL owners have been strongly opposed to interrupting the NHL season again to allow its players to represent their respective countries in the Olympics. Surprisingly, a majority of fans in the USA and Canada disapprove of interrupting the NHL season to allow NHL players to play in the Olympics (73% and 53%, respectively). The bottom line is that the NHL owners do not see the benefit to hockey or the NHL. (https://www.nhl.com/news/history-shows-olympics-dont-help-nhl/c-288389004)
Many interesting questions are raised if NHL players leave their teams mid-season to join their respective countries in the Olympics:
• What are the consequences if the players leave their NHL teams to compete for their countries in the Olympics?
• Can they be suspended?
• Can NHL teams void their contracts?
• Will the NHL teams take them back?
In another blog post I will look at the options that NHL owners and teams have in addressing these questions under the CBA.
This author believes that the NHLPA did not protect the players' interest in the CBA when addressing Olympic participation. Therefore, the NHL was well within its right to cancel its Olympic participation. However, as a former player and fan of the game, I enjoy watching the best players in the world compete in the Olympics. This issue should be revisited during the next round of CBA negotiations.