Skip to content

Bettman, Fehr, Fasel address future Olympic participation for NHL

Feb 18, 2014, 3:26 AM EST

Around the Games: Day 11 - 2014 Winter Olympic Games Getty Images

SOCHI, Russia — Let’s start with a direct quote from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman:

“I don’t want to get into what the pros and cons are for participating. Everybody knows them, and they’ve been debated ad nauseam. We are here because we think it’s great to be here today at this tournament. What comes next we’ll all have to figure out, as we’ve done each of the other times that the NHL players have participated.”

Because that, folks, is the most important takeaway from today’s press conference that featured Bettman, NHLPA chief Donald Fehr, and IIHF president René Fasel. Anyone who figured we’d learn something more definitive about the future of NHL participation in the Olympics was left disappointed, and was probably a bit naive to figure that in the first place.

“It’s nothing that’s been discussed. It’s nothing that will be discussed while we’re here in Sochi.” said Bettman of the potential to send NHLers to Pyeongchang, South Korea, in 2018.

“From our standpoint, we have a process we go through,” said Fehr. “We have a significant time period which we talk to the players, digest what they have to say, figure out what they want, and then they tell me what they’d like me to do, and we try and make that happen. And that process will play out after the Games.”

The most entertaining part of today’s affair came near the end, when Fasel — a big supporter of maintaining NHL participation — said, “There is nothing like an Olympic gold medal in the life of an athlete. Nothing.”

To which Bettman responded, “Except perhaps winning the Stanley Cup.”

So failing any actual hard answers, at least there were some laughs.

At this point, the ball seems very much in the court of the players. As we wrote last week, if NHLers want to keep coming to the Olympics, they need to make that clear.

“None of this moves forward at all, if it moves forward at all, if the players don’t want to play,” said Bettman. “The reason we’re here in the first instance is this is a game with a history and tradition of international competition and our players, NHL players, love representing their countries. And so, if the players ever said, ‘We’re not interested,’ we’re not going to ever force them to go.”

As for when the decision will be made? Fehr employed a famous legal phrase: “I think it will be done…with all deliberate speed. You do it as fast as you can, but in a democratic organization, you have to do it at the rate the players are prepared to do it. All the players.”

Bettman backed the time frame of six months that was proposed by deputy commissioner Bill Daly.

“As a logistical matter, subject to what Don said, we don’t see why it couldn’t be done in that time frame,” said Bettman. “Frankly, if we’re going to continue to participate, having as long a runway as possible to use the advantages would be a good thing. And if we’re not going to participate, giving the various national federations an opportunity to adjust to that, giving them as much time as possible would be good.”

Related: NHL, NHLPA taking wait-and-see approach to 2018 Winter Olympics

Latest Posts
  1. What’s next for Martin Brodeur?

    Dec 29, 2014, 11:27 AM EST

    Martin Brodeur AP

    Brian Elliott has been medically cleared to play, is why we ask.

  2. NHL on NBCSN: Nyquist looks to remain hot against the Bruins

    Dec 29, 2014, 10:45 AM EST

    Dallas Stars v Detroit Red Wings Dallas Stars v Detroit Red Wings

    Has scored in each of his four career games against Boston

  3. Report: Bernier travelling with Leafs to Tampa Bay

    Dec 29, 2014, 10:15 AM EST

    Jonathan Bernier Jonathan Bernier

    Missed Sunday’s game with flu-like symptoms.

  4. Richards returns, Sharp demoted as Blackhawks hosts Predators

    Dec 29, 2014, 9:30 AM EST

    Chicago Blackhawks v Vancouver Canucks Getty Images

    Has missed three games with an upper body injury.

  5. Devils’ coaching situation still has many, um, ‘variables’

    Dec 29, 2014, 12:40 AM EST

    Lou Lamoriello, Adam Oates, Scott Stevens AP

    GM and interim bench boss Lou Lamoriello’s making it up as he goes along.

  6. Boudreau has no clue when Perry may return

    Dec 29, 2014, 12:09 AM EST

    Los Angeles Kings v Anaheim Ducks - Game Five Getty Images

    “I don’t even know anymore.”

  7. Ducks’ defense steps up in OT win vs. Canucks

    Dec 28, 2014, 11:12 PM EST

    Vancouver Canucks v Anaheim Ducks Getty Images

    Literally, in the case of Cam Fowler’s game-winning goal.

  8. Kane is questionable for Jets on Monday

    Dec 28, 2014, 10:03 PM EST

    evanderk9 Getty Images

    Winnipeg recalled Patrice Cormier in case the power forward can’t play.

  9. Bergeron, Lucic are day-to-day for struggling Bruins

    Dec 28, 2014, 8:57 PM EST

    Boston Bruins v Montreal Canadiens Getty Images

    Head coach Claude Julien has some choice words for his team.

  10. Cardiac Cats: Panthers win as Reimer, Leafs fade in third

    Dec 28, 2014, 8:09 PM EST

    Toronto Maple Leafs v Florida Panthers Getty Images

    Florida’s breathing down Toronto’s neck in the East standings.

  11. Leafs lose Panik to upper-body injury

    Dec 28, 2014, 7:05 PM EST

    richardp Getty Images

    There are some concussion concerns.

  12. All Varlamov: Avalanche send Pickard to AHL

    Dec 28, 2014, 6:25 PM EST

    Calvin Pickard AP

    Reto Berra might not see much action going forward.

  13. Report: Blues’ Elliott medically cleared to play

    Dec 28, 2014, 5:30 PM EST

    Brian Elliott Brian Elliott

    Has been out of St. Louis’ lineup since Nov. 25.

  14. Carter Ashton returns to Leafs’ lineup

    Dec 28, 2014, 5:00 PM EST

    carterashtongetty Getty Images

    Playing for the first time since Nov. 4

  15. Report: Blackhawks’ Richards to return Monday

    Dec 28, 2014, 4:15 PM EST

    Winnipeg Jets v Chicago Blackhawks Getty Images

    Has missed three games with an upper body injury.

  16. Letang, Hornqvist miss Pens’ practice

    Dec 28, 2014, 3:30 PM EST

    Toronto Maple Leafs v Pittsburgh Penguins Getty Images

    The forward will miss a few weeks with a lower body injury.

  17. Leafs place Komarov on IR (Updated)

    Dec 28, 2014, 2:45 PM EST

    Pittsburgh Penguins v Toronto Maple Leafs Getty Images

    Recalled goaltender Christopher Gibson from AHL.

Featured video

Holiday wish lists for NHL teams
Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. C. Perry (2554)
  2. B. Bishop (2332)
  3. B. Elliott (1967)
  4. J. Halak (1868)
  5. S. Weiss (1758)
  1. N. Kronwall (1649)
  2. S. Varlamov (1645)
  3. J. Schwartz (1575)
  4. S. Crosby (1473)
  5. J. Howard (1363)