Bettman: Own­ers are re­luc­tant to al­low play­ers in 2018 Games

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By The As­so­ci­ated Press

palm beach, fla.» NHL com­mis­sioner Gary Bettman said 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.

Af­ter a meet­ing of the league’s Board of Gov­er­nors on Thurs­day, Bettman said no de­ci­sion was made re­gard­ing Olympics par­tic­i­pa­tion in 2018 in Pyeongchang, 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.

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 twoplus week break for the Olympics.

The Board of Gov­er­nors meet­ings con­clude Fri­day.

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