(NEXSTAR) – The National Hockey League first began sending its players to the Olympics in Nagano in 1998. And that continued for the next four winter Olympics through Sochi in 2014.
“It was a great feeling to be in front of the fans,” said Zemgus Girgensons, a forward for the Buffalo Sabres who competed for Team Latvia at the Sochi Olympics. “And for the guys, I mean, we were celebrating like we won the cup or something.”
But not in PyeongChang in 2018.
There are several reasons why, one of which is that the NHL owners were not wild about pausing their season for 17 days. Also, the IOC had paid for everything in the past but was not willing to do so in South Korea.
In September, the NHL, the NHL Players’ Association and the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) reached a joint agreement.
“Unbelievable experience to have as a player and I’m just happy to be a part of it again,” said Girgensons.
Added Sebastian Aho of the Carolina Hurricanes, who will play for Team Finland in Beijing, “You know, just to play for Team Finland is always an honor for me. Still have memories as a kid, watching those Olympic games when Team Finland played pretty well every time there.”
Three players have already been named for Team USA: Patrick Kane and Seth Jones from the Chicago Blackhawks and Auston Matthews from the Toronto Maple Leafs.