Can the NHL’s ever-raging battle for good public standing get any worse?

Why, yes. Yes, it can.

In a move that plenty of people might have seen coming but resonates with unpleasantness nonetheless, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman dropped a bomb Tuesday in his response to whether the league will partake in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.

Bettman’s response, according to CBC Radio News’ Tom Harrington: “Assume we’re not going.”


The league has its reasons for holding back from Olympic participation -- namely ones centered on financial and player-health risks. But if Bettman’s not-so-subtle hint holds true, the NHL will certainly have no shortage of players -- and big-name ones, at that -- tempted to skip their own regular-season obligations for a shot at some overseas action on the world’s grandest athletic stage. And some owners, like the Washington Capitals’ Ted Leonsis, apparently won’t have a problem letting their stars pursue Olympic opportunities the NHL should probably be throwing in their direction.

The league isn’t necessarily doing itself any favors with its seemingly ill-prepared and potentially secretive approach to the Vegas Golden Knights’ expansion draft. Its upcoming playoff picture might or might not be muddled by fans’ distaste for the seeding format. So prepping for a boycott of the Olympics isn’t exactly the next move the NHL needed.