The National Hockey League’s all-time scorer, Wayne Gretzky explains that he believes NHL players should be allowed to participate in the next Olympic Winter Games.
Wayne Gretzky spoke to The Associated Press on Thursday, expressing that the NHL should allow its players to represent their country on the Olympic stage. His belief is not only for the sake of the fans but also for the players themselves.
“If we can send the best players in the game it’s always much better for everyone,” Gretzky said.
Similar to most professional athletes, Gretzky believes the Olympic experience is like nothing else.
“I really think it’s a real special stage. There’s something really unique and special about playing for your country and there’s nothing bigger than playing for your country in the Olympic Games.”
The Great One is a global ambassador for Beijing’s two-year old Kunlun Red Star of the Russia-based Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) and expressed how wonderful it would be “for our sport worldwide and for the people of China to see the best players in the world on centre stage.”
Gretzky will continue to show his global support for our sport, attending the upcoming preseason game between the Boston Bruins and Calgary Flames in the southern city of Shenzhen.
The NHL’s Decision to Ban Players
In the spring of 2017, it became official that NHL players will not be allowed to participate in the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games.
This decision was made due to the “impact Olympic participation has on the NHL season in terms of player injuries and the compressed schedule created by the break,” according to NHL.com.
The ban ended a run of five consecutive Olympic Winter Games with NHL players and disappointed many players.
The Washington Capitals captain, Alexander Ovechkin stated his concern in a personal note released by the Washington Capitals.
“I see the news this week and I am very disappointed that IOC, IIHF and NHL put me and all NHL players in this position when some of the best players in world do not have chance to play in the Olympic Games,” Ovechkin said.
“This is not just about me but all the NHL players who want to play and have a chance to win Gold for their country.”
— The Morning Show (@MorningShowCA) August 11, 2017
After week of talks and speculation, the National Hockey League officially closed the matter.
“the NHLPA has now publicly confirmed that it has no interest or intention of engaging in any discussion that might make Olympic participation more attractive to clubs,” the NHL said in a statement.
“As a result, and in an effort to create clarity among conflicting reports and erroneous speculation, this will confirm our intention to proceed with finalizing our 2017-18 regular season schedule without any break to accommodate the Olympic Winter Games. We now consider the matter officially closed.”