The NHL’s decision to not take part in the 2018 Olympics could open the door for men’s college hockey players to fill teams in PyeongChang, South Korea, next season.
The league gave final confirmation on Monday that it would not stop the 2017-18 season to allow for players to join national teams.
NHL players had taken part in the Olympics since 1998.
The NHL has released the following statement regarding the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. pic.twitter.com/nqjYtsLHew
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) April 3, 2017
USA Hockey executive director Dave Ogrean said the organization knew the NHL’s decision was a possibility. “The good news is that because of our grassroots efforts over the course of many years, our player pool is as deep as it has ever been and we fully expect to field a team that will play for a medal,” he said in a statement.
— NHLPA (@NHLPA) April 3, 2017
A USA Hockey spokesperson said there are many moving parts to the process of building the 2018 men’s Olympic roster.
If college players are used, there are questions on how long they would be away from their NCAA teams and how rosters would be selected.
Before NHL participation, USA Hockey built a team to spend months together training and playing exhibition games before the Olympics.