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Power Take: Olympic hockey should use juniors, not NHL players, when Games aren’t in North America

Commissioner Gary Bettman took a firm stance against the International Olympic Committee when he was asked whether the NHL would participate in the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea. He made it clear the league wasn’t getting stuck with the $10 million tab. Amen, brother.

NHL players have participated in the Olympics since 1998, when Sabres goalie Dominik Hasek led the Czech Republic to the gold medal. It helped build hockey into an international game.

The NHL needs to be judicious. The IOC has suggested it wouldn’t cover costs for accommodations and insurance, as it did in the past. It’s a deal-breaker for the NHL to interrupt its season. It’s not just the money. South Korea is 11 hours ahead of the Eastern Standard Time, which is another factor often overlooked.

The quality of play is bound to suffer, as it did when the Olympics were held outside of North America. It’s not what the NHL is selling. The solution, when the Olympics are held outside of North America, would be using the international stage to hold the World Junior Championships.