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MOSCOW, April 5. /TASS/. A proposal voiced by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman to move Winter Olympic Games’ hockey competitions to the summer period in order to avoid ruining the regular schedule of the US-based league defies all norms of logic and seems bizarre, a senior Russian Olympic executive told TASS on Wednesday.
The NHL announced on Monday that it had decided against altering its schedule for the 2017-2018 season, meaning that international players bound by contracts with NHL clubs would not be able to leave next year to join their national teams to play at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, which are scheduled to take place in South Korea’s PyeongChang next year on February 9-25.
Sports.net web portal reported earlier in the day quoting Bettman that he suggested moving the Winter Olympic hockey tournament to summer, "but that idea didn't gain traction with the International Olympic Committee (IOC)."
"Holding a hockey tournament in summer would be wrong and bizarre as there would be no interest in the competition at all," Igor Kazikov, a senior official with the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), said in an interview with TASS.
"The Olympic Games is a complex event with the main aim of holding it at one time and in one place," Kazikov said. "This is why I believe that this initiative is illogical and a waste of time."
In an interview with Sports.net on Wednesday, Bettman said "If the IOC would move the Olympic hockey tournament to the summer, that would be great. We’d be thrilled to have our players participate because then it doesn’t affect our season."
According to Bettman, the NHL was definitely "interested in growing international, but three weeks every four years isn’t what’s going to make it."
In line with statistics posted on the Sports.net a total of 121 NHL players took part in the 1998 Nagano Games, 141 in the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, 149 in 2006 Turin Games, 141 in 2010 Vancouver Olympics and 147 in 2014 Sochi Games.
The NHL came up with an astounding statement for the global ice hockey fans on Monday night saying that the league officially confirmed its "intention to proceed with finalizing our 2017-18 regular season schedule without any break to accommodate the Olympic Winter Games. We now consider the matter officially closed."
The National Hockey League Players’ Association came up later with a statement criticizing the NHL’s decision saying that the league’s players were "extraordinarily disappointed and adamantly disagree with the NHL's shortsighted decision to not continue our participation in the Olympics."
"Any sort of inconvenience the Olympics may cause to next season's schedule is a small price to pay compared to the opportunity to showcase our game and our greatest players on this enormous international stage," the statement from the NHL Players’ Association said.
The association criticized the NHL’s authorities for not only prohibiting its players for playing on the international arena, but for building obstacles for the game of ice hockey on the whole.