Avs players disappointed in NHL decision not to participate in 2018 Olympics

Avalanche on NHL in Olympics

DENVER - The Colorado Avalanche spoke out against the National Hockey League's decision to not participate in the 2018 Peyonchang Olympics in February next year.

The NHL Commissioner, Gary Bettman, released a statement yesterday announcing that for the first time since 1994 the league will not take part in the next Olympics, and possibly the Winter Olympics, after that. 

"I think it's too bad and disappointing to say the least," Av's captain Gabriel Landeskog told 9NEWS after practice Tuesday. 

The Avs had two current players participate in the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014; Matt Duchene competed for Team Canada and Gabriel Landeskog competed for Team Sweden. 

"It was probably the biggest honor of my life being picked for that team, just alone," Duchene said. "Let alone winning, so you know that was a moment I'll always cherish making that team."

For players, the Olympics are the biggest stage they will ever play on, aside from the NHL, it is the greatest accomplishment to win a gold medal. To see the opportunity slip away is more than displeasing to a lot of players.  

"It's disappointing that it looks like we're not going as of now." Duchene said. 

Outside of NHL players who've already had the chance to compete for their country, players like Nathan Mackinnon on the Avs are still fighting for that chance. Due to the NHL's recent decision, that dream becomes a bit more difficult. 

Critics say they're also missing a major opportunity for the sport. 

"It's a time for us to showcase our best players in the world and grow the game in places where hockey's not very big, such as Korea," Mackinnon. "It sucks, I mean it's a cool event. If I was a kid and I heard that, I'd be crushed."

Athletes grow up with dreams of competing for their country. It brings even more meaning to the game they've been training so hard to compete in. 

"That's what a lot of kids dream about, and especially to participate," Landeskog said. "I mean that's a great honor playing for your country and to be a part of that, but also to win an Olympic medal. That doesn't happen very often to get that chance." 

"The Olympics: that's what a lot of kids dream about," he said. 

The league is not allotting time during the NHL season for players to compete, and they haven't reached an agreement on travel and housing funding that had previously been paid by the International Olympic Committee. 

"I want to play in the Olympics," Landeskog said. "I want to play for my country. We'll see where it ends up."

Despite the NHL's decision to not take part in the 2018 Winter Olympics, and possibly the 2022 games, many players are going to try and find a way to play in the games with their NHL team's support. 

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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