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Russia to send strong hockey team to 2018 Winter Olympics despite NHL pullout

The NHL announced a decision to alter its schedule for the 2017-2018 season, meaning international players bound by contracts with NHL clubs would not be able to join their national teams

ST. PETERSBURG, June 1. /TASS/. Russia will send a strong ice hockey team to the 2018 Olympics, despite the recent decision by the National Hockey League (NHL) to keep its players from taking part in the Games, Russia’s Olympic chief Alexander Zhukov told TASS on Thursday.

"I’m deeply convinced that all the strongest athletes must participate in all sport events at the Olympic Games. Ice hockey is the main tournament and this can’t be done without the NHL. For well-known reasons, many best players are playing in the NHL," Zhukov said on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

The NHL announced in early April 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.

"Thanks to the strong championship of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), our situation is a bit different. In any case, we’ll send a strong team to South Korea but it would be nice if the tournament comes as a full-fledged event with the participation of NHL players," Russia’s Olympic chief said.

Statistics show that 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 St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) is the most important annual economic conference held in Russia. Since 1997, heads of state, ministers, CEOs of Russian and foreign companies have been meeting to discuss economic issues that Russia and the developing countries are facing. Since 2005, Russia’s president has been taking part in the forum.

The 2017 SPIEF, organized by the Roscongress State Foundation set up in 2016, will focus on the new economic reality and the search for new sources of growth. The 2017 SPIEF is dubbed Achieving a New Balance in the Global Economic Arena.

TASS news agency is the general information partner and the official photohost agency of the event. The agency is also the operator of the forum’s presentation zone.