Bettman on Olympics: ‘Assume we’re not going’

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: Gary Bettman doesn’t think the NHL is going to the Olympics.

However, the NHL commissioner took it a step further on Tuesday:

“There are no negotiations ongoing,” Bettman told Reuters at the Sport Business Summit in New York. “We were open to having discussions on a variety of things that might mitigate the damage to our season but that had no resonance.

“As things stand now people should assume we are not going.”

That’s a more declarative statement than we’ve heard from Bettman thus far. He goes on to add some familiar context:

“We’re not negotiating publicly,” said Bettman. “The point is I was trying to emphasize the fact that this is terribly disruptive to our business and there seems to be no offsetting way to mitigate that disruption.

This is not new.

Bettman is speaking as a representative of the 31 owners who don’t like losing revenue during the year, and risking their investments in players to injuries that could further impact their teams when the season resumes.

He continues with another blow to the nail in the coffin:

“From our standpoint there may not be any next steps,” said Bettman.

“Remember, this is February, there is no baseball, no football, it is just us and basketball and we just disappear,” said Bettman. “We don’t get content for the NHL Network, we don’t get content for our social media platforms and NHL.com.

“Why did we do it five times? Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time but we have been unable to quantify any benefit from it.”

The NHL’s stance on this is firm. What the owners need to be more concerned about his how many defectors they’re going to have when it’s a sure-thing.

Ted Leonsis said he’s letting his stars go to Pyeongchang. Eugene Melnyk said he’s not allowing Erik Karlsson to go.

This is going to be a problem. Stay tuned.