WATCH: NHL players won’t be going to the 2018 Olympics in South Korea and hockey fans aren’t happy. Tess van Straaten reports.
The best hockey players in the world won’t be going for gold in the next Olympics.
“I think it’s a sad for the fans, sad day for the players that want to compete,” says former NHL and Team Canada hockey player Russ Courtnall.
The Victoria hockey star was just 18 years old when he played for Canada Team in the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo, making it to the bronze medal game.
“Representing Canada was just an incredible, unforgettable experience and the medal round against Russia, Czechoslovakia and then Sweden was in itself an amazing feat for a bunch of 18, 19 and 20-year-olds,” Courtnall told CHEK News.
It’s an experience Courtnall wouldn’t have had if NHL and other professional hockey players were allowed to compete back then.
The 1998 Olympics was the first to include NHL players and they’re a big draw for fans.
But talks between the International Olympic Committee, the league and the NHL Player’s Association have stalled in recent months.
Insiders say the NHL didn’t see any financial advantage to the games in South Korea.
It’s not a hockey country and the time difference means games would be on at odd hours.
Hockey fans reacted to the news Monday with surprise and disappointment.
But some said the Olympics should be left to ammeters.
Professional players from European and Russian leagues will still compete, which means the decision hurts Canada and the U.S. the most.
But several Russian NHL players ? including Alex Ovechkin ? are vowing to go anyway.
It’s not yet clear if any Canadian players will follow suit.