NHL's Bettman 'very comfortable' with decision to skip Olympics

The NHL has no regrets about not sending its players to the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, commissioner Gary Bettman said Wednesday.

Commissioner making no predictions on whether league will return for Beijing Games

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said Wednesday not having players in Pyeongchang meant there was no "disruption to our season" and ensured players remained healthy for the run to the playoffs. (Darryl Dyck / The Canadian Press)

The NHL has no regrets about not sending its players to the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, says commissioner Gary Bettman.

"We've very comfortable with the decision we made as a league," Bettman said Wednesday.

The NHL announced last April it would not participate in the Pyeongchang Games. It was the first time in five Winter Olympics where the world's best hockey players didn't play.

Not having players in South Korea meant there was no "disruption to our season," Bettman said, adding it also ensured players remained healthy for the run to the playoffs.

"The fact our teams would have come back in varying conditions, some teams more banged up and tired than teams where there weren't that many players at the Olympics, we're very comfortable with it," he said.

NHL 'justified' in its decision

Canada's men's hockey team, a collection of former NHL players mostly playing in Europe, won bronze at the Olympics. The team from Russia defeated Germany in overtime of the gold medal game.

"The tournament was entertaining," Bettman said. "The hockey was not best on best. I think the gold medal game was exciting.

"Based on the overall reaction that these Olympics got, I think we were justified in our decision and comfortable it was the right decision."

Bettman didn't want to speculate if the NHL would return for the 2022 Games.

"I'm not in a position to predict," he said. "The fact is, even in four years the issue of disruption of our season will be there. It's not something we are focused on right now."

Growth in women's hockey

Asked about the U.S. women's win over Canada at the Olympics, Bettman said the NHL supports growth in the women's game.

Currently, there are two professional women's leagues, the Canadian Women's Hockey League and National Women's Hockey League, which is based in the United States.

"We are going to let the landscape sort itself out," said Bettman. "If those two leagues didn't exist, we would probably start our own women's league to work in conjunction with our existing clubs.

"There isn't enough talent for three leagues right now and we're not looking to get into a competition with the two women's leagues. If at some point they both want to work with us in ways we haven't been able to so far, we are open to that conversation."


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