The NHL is not going to the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.
The league announced its decision Monday afternoon, saying the matter was “officially closed.”
The league says no meaningful dialogue had materialized in talks with the NHLPA, International Olympic Committee and International Ice Hockey Federation. The league wanted to close the matter before the playoffs, which begin April 13.
Team owners have complained that stopping the NHL season for three weeks every four years wasn’t worth it.
NHL players had participated in the previous five Olympics dating to 1998. Many players expressed a strong desire to go, and Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin has said he plans to go regardless of NHL participation.
Here’s what some of the league’s top players said in response to the league’s decision:
“It is crap. That’s pretty much what I think. It’s going to do more damage to this sport than people realize, and whoever made that decision obviously doesn’t know what they are doing.”
– Senators defenceman Erik Karlsson, a silver medallist with Sweden at the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia
“It’s beyond disappointing. For myself it’s an opportunity to showcase yourself on a world stage. We’re very, very proud of our hockey community in Canada and not being able to represent your country is very disappointing.”
– Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price, an Olympic gold medallist from the Sochi Games
“It’s extremely disappointing. We want to be there, it’s good for the league, good for everybody, good for the owners, good for the players, and good for expanding the game. It’s extremely disappointing, we’ll see what happens and how the reaction goes but we’re not too happy about it.”
– Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty, who was on the United States team that placed fourth at Sochi
“I haven’t really seen a statement yet, but I’m really not surprised either. They probably want something from us as always.”
– Detroit Red Wings Henrik Zetterberg, also a member of the silver-medal winning Swedish team in 2014
Disappointing news, @NHL won’t be part of the Olympics 2018. A huge opportunity to market the game at the biggest stage is wasted..
— Henrik Lundqvist (@HLundqvist30) April 3, 2017
“But most of all, disappointing for all the players that can’t be part of the most special adventure in sports..”
– New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist of Sweden, in two separate tweets
“I’m just going to tell you I’m disappointed.”
– Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock, who led Canada to consecutive Olympic gold medals in 2010 and 2014
Stephen Whyno, The Associated Press