Strong negative Olympics sentiment among NHL owners
PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman says there’s significant opposition among team owners to continuing participation in the Winter Olympics, and the league is running out of time on negotiations to take part in the 2018 Games.
Following a meeting of the league’s Board of Governors on Thursday, Bettman said no decision was made regarding Olympics participation in 2018 in South Korea.
“I think it’s fair to say that there is some strong negative sentiment in the room,” Bettman said. “But nothing was decided today.”
NHL players have competed in the past five Winter Olympics dating to 1998 and want to continue taking part, but owners are concerned about the midseason interruption and injury risk.
Bettman said his recent proposal to the NHL Players’ Association regarding an extension of the collective bargaining agreement in return for Olympic participation was part of a larger discussion about hockey’s international calendar.
“That discussion morphed into, ‘Maybe we should be talking about a long-term international schedule with predictability,’” Bettman said. “If you look at the calendar and you play it out in the logical sequences of the way these events get played, we said if you look at the calendar and get rid of the (CBA) reopeners and you extend by three years, that gets you two Olympics, two World Cups and two Ryder Cups.”
Such an agreement would ensure nine years of labor peace, but players rejected the proposal.
In other matters, the league gave owners a range for next season’s salary cap. Bettman projected it would remain flat or increase by about $2 million.
The NHL does not intend to reconsider the name or logo of the Las Vegas expansion franchise after U.S. patent authorities denied the club’s trademark request, deputy commissioner Bill Daly said.
“It’s much ado about nothing,” Daly said. “The franchise will go forward with that name and that logo. We have every expectation we’ll ultimately get that registration.”
Bettman has said a decision regarding the Olympics needs to be made by early January, giving the league time to create its 2017-18 schedule with or without a two-plus week break for the Olympics.
The Board of Governors meetings conclude Friday.