NHL: Players under contract in minors can't go to Olympics

Rufina Vignone
Agosto 8, 2017

Given the opportunity to save face with some players still hopeful to compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics, the National Hockey League is drawing a hard line: No one, not even minor leaguers signed to two-way contracts, will be permitted to represent their country in Pyeongchang.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed to The Associated Press on Monday that all players under contract to that league will be treated the same. That means rosters for the United States, Canada and other global hockey powerhouses will be stocked entirely by minor leaguers, collegians and others playing overseas.

The NHL announced in April that it will not be stopping its season to participate in that competition. Players on AHL-only deals are eligible to compete in the Olympics. The AHL said earlier this summer that general managers could decide to allow players on AHL contracts to play in South Korea. Those players loaned to European teams wouldn't be playing the season on their NHL contracts, which is the same situation for those on entry-level deals in Canadian major junior leagues.

Jim Johannson, USA Hockey's assistant executive director of hockey operations and the US general manager for the 2018 Olympics, said that organization will honor its partnership with the NHL and not put anyone under contract in its player pool. A gray area surrounded those playing in the AHL or ECHL on a two-way deal, with the National Hockey League yet to rule definitively on a possible exemption. Chris Bourque, son of Hockey Hall of Famer Ray Bourque, and goaltender John Muse are examples of US -born players on AHL contracts who could be selected. Canada, as it showed with rosters for two exhibition tournaments in Russian Federation this week, will lean heavily on European-based players with others mixed in.

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