It was on April 3rd that the NHL broke news that it would not be attending the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. This is the first time the NHL is not participating in 20 years. Players and fans around the world. Henrik Lundqvist tweeted “Disappointing news, @NHL won’t be part of the Olympics 2018. A huge opportunity to market the game at the biggest stage is wasted..” and continues to say “But most of all, disappointing for all the players that can’t be a part of the most special adventure in sports..”
It is also no secret that Alexander Ovechkin was always planning to go even if the NHL decided to not attend and teammate Evgeny Kuznetsov had the exact same idea.
What is to stop everyone else from doing this? How would the NHL react to make itself not look bad as everyone gets up and leaves? The Capitals organization has said they are fine with the players leaving mid year to go play in the Olympics, but the NHL could potentially fine the organization up to $10 million. Would the Caps foot the bill for Ovi to play in South Korea? The NHL has plenty of punishment to hand out if this happens, such as taking away the team’s draft picks. Worst of all though they can suspend Ovechkin for the remainder of the season including any playoff games. Taken to the extreme, the NHL can consider this as Ovechkin going to play in a different league violating his contract which could be terminated immediately, according to TSN. To return to the NHL the circumstances would be a lot similar to that of Ilya Kovalchuk, where the only circumstance though, is to not play professional hockey for an entire year.
Now Alex Ovechkin thinks the NHL could be bluffing on the whole not going to the Olympics statement altogether as reported by Chris Johnson.
This could be true, or this could be the NHL just providing us with the fact that they are not going to the 2018 Winter Olympics. Questions are still to be answered though. Are they to allow individual players to go themselves? If not, what will they do to stop this? All of these questions will just be answered in time.