NHL appears unlikely to participate in 2018 Olympics

SHARE NHL appears unlikely to participate in 2018 Olympics

Patrick Kane competes in the stickhandling portion of the skills relay Saturday night in Los Angeles. (Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES — It’s looking increasingly unlikely that the NHL will participate in the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Commissioner Gary Bettman said the topic was discussed for “about 10 seconds” at the Board of Governors meeting Saturday, and deputy commissioner Bill Daly told reporters, “As of right now, there’s not a will.” The NHL has sent its players to every Olympics since the 1998 games in Nagano, Japan.

Even though the International Ice Hockey Federation has figured out a way to pay the NHL’s costs (which the league cited as its initial concern), the owners still are reluctant to put their season on hold for two weeks again. But the players still want to play.

“As a proud American, you want to play for your country any chance you get,” Patrick Kane said. “I think a lot of us players would be ecstatic if they said we were going to the Olympics. But at the same time, you understand the owners’ side of things, too, you know? You’re taking time away for two weeks of the season [and] you’re paying a lot of money to guys who could end up going and getting hurt.”

Skills on display

The highlight of the skills competition Saturday was Arizona goaltender Mike Smith scoring from the goal line into a “Shoot The Puck”-style opening in the far net. But the Blackhawks acquitted themselves well in limited action.

Kane took eight shots to knock out the four targets in the -accuracy event (Sidney Crosby edged out Auston Matthews to win). And in the skills relay, Duncan Keith scored on his one-timer on the first attempt, Jonathan Toews nailed four passes on six attempts and Kane had a clean stick-handling run. Edmonton’s Connor McDavid won the fastest skater event, and Montreal’s Shea Weber successfully defended his title in the hardest-shot competition.

He’s a Belieber

Kane was the only active player to participate in the celebrity game before the skills competition. Also playing? Pop star Justin Bieber, who even got smeared along the glass in the crease by Chris Pronger and scored an empty-net goal in the final minute.

Kane admitted that he’s a Bieber fan.

“He’s got a lot of good songs,” Kane said. “I don’t know if I could say that around the locker room, but I’m a big fan.”

Coaching change

With Columbus’ John Tortorella attending to a family matter, Wayne Gretzky will coach the Metropolitan Division in the All-Star three-on-three tournament Sunday.

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