NHL stars won't shine at Pyeongchang Winter Games

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By Tokunbo Salako  with Reuters
NHL stars won't shine at Pyeongchang Winter Games

<p>The International Olympic Committee says its disappointed but not surprised by the National Hockey League’s decision to pull out of next year’s Winter Games.</p> <p>Home to the world’s best ice hockey players, the <span class="caps">NHL</span> said on Monday that it’s not been able to solve the problem of halting its league mid-season to accomodate the Olympics.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><span class="caps">NHL</span>> Bettman says <span class="caps">IOC</span>, <span class="caps">IIHF</span> must make concessions on Olympics > The I- <a href="https://t.co/XiKQogB06j">https://t.co/XiKQogB06j</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/nhl?src=hash">#nhl</a> <a href="https://t.co/kznMsW12B5">pic.twitter.com/kznMsW12B5</a></p>— <span class="caps">NHL</span> SportMag (@NHLSportMag) <a href="https://twitter.com/NHLSportMag/status/845485927422201856">March 25, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <p>The <span class="caps">IOC</span> president, Thomas Bach, says he feels extremely sorry for the athletes but left the door open for those who want to participate.</p> <p>“When you have been reading the recent statements by the <span class="caps">NHL</span> and then it could not come as a surprise. If any player wants top join his team, any <span class="caps">NHL</span> player then he is most welcome at the Olympic Games. Obviously, they (<span class="caps">NHL</span>) wanted more money or whatever; we don’t know what they really wanted,” said Bach.</p> <p>Unhappy over the prospect of shutting down their season for nearly three weeks, the <span class="caps">NHL</span> had been seeking major concessions from the <span class="caps">IOC</span>, including recognition comparable to that of an Olympic top sponsor.</p> <p>The decision will impact almost every major ice-hockey-playing nation since the Swedish, Finnish, Russian, Canadian and US teams are almost entirely comprised of <span class="caps">NHL</span> representative. </p> <p>The Pyeongchange Games will take place in South Korea from Feb. 9-25 next year.</p> <h3>Here’s the <span class="caps">NHL</span>’s statement in full</h3>: <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><span class="caps">NHL</span> statement on not going to the 2018 Winter Olympics: <a href="https://t.co/ozs82FI17Y">pic.twitter.com/ozs82FI17Y</a></p>— Travis Hughes (@TravisSBN) <a href="https://twitter.com/TravisSBN/status/848985504032985090">April 3, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <p>Some ice hockey fans and players have taken to Twitter to express their feelings over the move. </p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/tblightning?src=hash">#tblightning</a> Victor Hedman on <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NHL?src=hash">#NHL</a> Olympics decision. “Extremely, extremely disappointed. I'm at a loss for words.” <a href="https://t.co/DnFI38lMct">pic.twitter.com/DnFI38lMct</a></p>— Joe Smith (@TBTimes_JSmith) <a href="https://twitter.com/TBTimes_JSmith/status/849277583158112256">April 4, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">i will literally not watch the nhl during the olympics. this is bs</p>— FlameForThought (@Flame_4_Thought) <a href="https://twitter.com/Flame_4_Thought/status/848985386986557440">April 3, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Another shortsighted decision by Bettman. Not sure how this guy remains employed. 3 lockouts and now this garbage<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Olympics?src=hash">#Olympics</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/nhlolympics?src=hash">#nhlolympics</a></p>— Sidney Pegula (@sidneypegula) <a href="https://twitter.com/sidneypegula/status/849228584229232640">April 4, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The <span class="caps">NHL</span> has grown the Olympics, the Olympics haven't helped grow the <span class="caps">NHL</span>. <br /> That's the reality.</p>— Colin Dunlap (@colin_dunlap) <a href="https://twitter.com/colin_dunlap/status/849229329586323457">April 4, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <p>Some players have said they would like to go to the Games irrespective of what the league decided.</p> <p>“We players knew nothing, because naturally they haven’t spoken to us,” Ottawa Senators captain Erik Karlsson told Swedish sports newspaper Sportbladet. “It’s so idiotic. Whoever did this has obviously no idea what they are doing.”</p> <p>With both the 2018 and the 2022 Winter Games in Asia and the <span class="caps">NHL</span> making efforts to tap into that region’s lucrative market, the logic behind the decision was lost on Swedish goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who plays for the New York Rangers.</p> <p>“Disappointing news, @NHL won’t be part of the Olympics 2018. A huge opportunity to market the game at the biggest stage is wasted,” he said on Twitter.</p>