It’s safe to say that Jake Voracek isn’t a fan of the NHL’s lackadaisical approach to coming to an agreement on an Olympic deal.
The NHL general managers met this past week to discuss rule changes to improve the game, and some hoped the upcoming Olympic games as well, but that was not the case.
“There’s absolutely nothing new,” according to commissioner Gary Bettman when asked about the potential of NHL players playing in the 2018 Olympic games. Bettman believes that “the overwhelming sentiment of the teams is that it’s very disruptive on the season and there’s somewhere between fatigue and negativity on the subject.”
Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly followed that up with a stronger statement, doubling down on their consistent approach of not sending players to South Korea. “Unless something changes we’re not going,” he said, “we’ve said that consistently for three months so there’s nothing new about that.”
At least one Philadelphia Flyers player is upset about that, and he isn’t afraid to speak his mind. Voracek told Tim Pannaccio that “It’s stupid and I find it absolutely ridiculous,” as CSN Philly reported Friday morning. Voracek played in his first Olympic games with the Czech Republic in Sochi.
Voracek expanded on his comments, completely shooting down the notion that the players don’t want to go to the Olympics. He responded to Daly’s assertion that the league doesn’t want to go with blasphemy: “The players want to go. Why you’re saying you’re not going? You’re not part of the players’ association. … Nobody wants you there. They want the players.”
“It’s the Olympics,” Voracek said. “It’s not just about business. You want to be part of the Olympics. And trust me, players want to go. And the players who don’t go get a week off to recharge their batteries. If you have bumps and bruises, you can heal and recover.
“The players want to go, I guarantee you that. I want to see how you are going to hold (Alex) Ovechkin back. The Russian players. Tell them they can’t go.”
Despite the players wanting to go, and certain players saying that they’re going no matter what, the NHL has already outlined the 2017-18 schedule without factoring in the Olympics.
Voracek is absolutely correct in his sentiment that the players want to go to the Olympics, and I wouldn’t be surprised if more players come out with comments like his. Many players grow up with the dream of making the NHL, but there is a different level of pride when they play for their country. When players from Europe represent their smaller countries to prove themselves against the best in the world, you see a competitiveness that not even the NHL playoffs can bring out.
Players may not speak their mind about it as much while the season is full swing, or because they don’t want to rustle feathers, but I imagine that many players, especially from Europe, would rather win an Olympic Gold Medal than the Stanley Cup.
The NHL is trying to fade out Olympic participation with the World Cup of Hockey every few years, but watching those games compared to Olympic hockey just felt different. The big wigs may say that players already get a chance to play for their teams, whether it be in the World Cup of Hockey or in the yearly World Championships, but nothing has the same feel to it as the Olympic Games.
Voracek, as he has been known to do, shot back at a fan on twitter who questioned his motives. And he was right to do so. Players are human beings, and when they’re asked questions we want them to answer as truthfully as possible.
I got asked they question,I answered.beat it https://t.co/jvRt5L2xcK
— Jakub Voracek (@jachobe) March 10, 2017
Former Flyers beat writer and current TSN Reporter Frank Seravalli replied to the tweet saying that it’s an honest answer, and likely how 99% of the players feel.
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) March 10, 2017
There have only been a handful of players to come out against the NHL and their Olympic policy so far, but expect to see more and more as the season winds down and the offseason crops up. Players want to play for their country. Fans want to see the best level of hockey possible. The NHL needs to focus on the hundreds of players, and millions of fans, rather than the 31 general managers and handful of top brass in the NHL front office.
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