NHL players want to be able to play at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, of that there’s no doubt, but as of Friday, the league, the players and the IIHF have yet to find a way to make that happen.
There was, however, an offer made by the league.
On Tuesday, it surfaced that the NHL had given the players an option to extend the CBA — reportedly by three years — in exchange for the chance to head to South Korea for the tournament. As one might expect, though, the belief is the players aren’t exactly receptive to the idea of giving up three years of bargaining power in exchange for the Olympics, and no player has really made that more clear than San Jose Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic.
Vlasic talked about the offer ahead of the Sharks’ Thursday meeting with the St. Louis Blues, and, according to CSN Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz, the San Jose rearguard found the offer to be literally laughable.
“I started laughing,” Vlasic said, according to Kurz. “That’s not negotiating. It’s not…As an athlete, it’s your right to go to the Olympics. I don’t know if [the report] is true. I hope it’s not. That’s not the way you negotiate things. But, if that is true, all of a sudden they don’t mind having a two-week break in the NHL for a three-year collective bargaining agreement.”
If the players do have to give up the right to go, Vlasic is almost certainly one of the players who will be impacted. He represented Canada at the 2014 Olympics, capturing a gold medal, and recently captured another international gold with Canada at the World Cup of Hockey. At 29, Vlasic is right in the heart of his prime, too, so the 2018 Olympics could, realistically, be his final chance to play at an Olympics.
By the time the 2022 tournament rolls around, he’d be going on 35, and there is a stockpile of young blueliners, including Team North America World Cup rearguards Aaron Ekblad, Morgan Rielly and Colton Parayko, who could be ready to see the biggest international stage by then.
Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin has been the most vocal of all players regarding Olympic participation in 2018, saying that he’s going whether the league is on board with it or not, and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis publicly said he’ll support Ovechkin if he chooses to go without an NHL agreement.
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