NHL commissioner Gary Bettman says it's 'hard to envision' the league returning to the Olympics

  • The NHL decided in April that it would not send players to the 2018 Olympics.
  • NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said teams became skeptical of interrupting the NHL season when the IOC would not treat the NHL like a sponsor.
  • Bettman said it's "hard to envision" the league returning to the Olympics in the future.


NHL players are not taking part in the 2018 Olympics after the league decided it did not want to interrupt the season to have players return to their home nations to compete.

While the decision was unpopular among players, Bettman only further doubled-down on his stance while speaking at the PrimeTime Sports Management Conference in Toronto on Monday.

When asked if the NHL has any regrets about its decision regarding the Olympics, Bettman said "none at all."

The NHL wanted to be featured as a sponsor of the Olympics, but the IOC turned them down. Without payment from the Olympics, Bettman explained how teams began re-thinking their involvement in the games.

76 PHOTOS
2018 Olympics: Team USA portraits
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2018 Olympics: Team USA portraits
Bobsled athlete Kehri Jones poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. She does not listen to while training but listens to pop and rap on race day. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Figure skater Ashley Wagner poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. Wagner listens to Beyonce while she trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Figure skater Mirai Nagasu poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. Nagasu listens to pop while she trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Figure skater Karen Chen poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. Chen listens to Taylor Swift's "Look What You Made Me Do" while she trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Figure skater Adam Rippon poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. Rippon listens to electronic dance music while he trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Alpine Skier Jackie Wells poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. She listens to hip hop and rap while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Figure skater Jason Brown poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. Brown listens to Justin Timberlake's "Can't Stop the Feeling" while he trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Alpine Skier Mikaela Shiffrin poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. She listens to "Dark Necessities" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Figure skater Nathan Chen poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Snowboarder Kelly Clark poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. She listens to christian music while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Alpine skier Laurenne Ross poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. She listens to old school rap and indy rock while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Figure skater Mariah Bell poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. Bell listens to Beyonce while she trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Snowboarder Chole Kim poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Ice dancers Alex Shibutani and Maia Shibutani pose for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. The pair listens to Coldplay and Perez Prado while they train. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Skeleton racer Annie O'Shea poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. O'Shea listens to J. Lo and Skrillex while she trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Ice Hockey player Troy Terry poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. He listens to classic rock while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. Kenworthy listens to pop music while he trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Bobsled athlete Jamie Greubel Poser poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. She listens to pop and rap music while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Skeleton racer Katie Uhlaender poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. Uhlaender listens to hip hop while she trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Paralympic Nordic Skiing athlete Oksana Masters poses for a portrait with her medals from Sochi at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. She listens to Jay Z and hip hop music while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Luge racer Erin Hamlin poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. Hamlin listens to alternative music while she trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Skeleton racer John Daly poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. Daly listens to Wake Me while he trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Bobsled athlete Aja Evans poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. She listens to hip hop music while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Paralympic Nordic Skiing athlete Aaron Pike poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. He listens to Seven Nation Army by White Stripes while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Luge racer Chris Mazdzer poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. Mazdzer listens to 3LAU and Martin Garrix while he trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Snowboarder Ryan Stassel poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. He listens to heavy rock while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Snowboarder Alex Deibold poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. He listens to Motley Crew songs while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Nordic Combined skier Bryan Fletcher poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. Fletcher listens to Macklemore while he trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Nordic Combined skier Bryan Fletcher poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. Fletcher listens to Macklemore while he trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Cross-country skier Jessie Diggins poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. Diggins listens to pop and dance music while she trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Short track speedskater Katherine Reutter-Adamek poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. Adamek listens to the Chainsmokers and electronic dance music while she trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Paralympic snowboarder Amy Purdy poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. She listens to electronic swing music while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Paralympic snowboarder Amy Purdy poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. She listens to electronic swing music while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Long track speedskater Brittany Bowe poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. Bowe listens to electronic dance music while she trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Paralympic sled hockey player Josh Pauls poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. He listens to rap music while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Long track speedskater KC Boutiette poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. Boutiette listens to Eminem while he trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Paralympic sled hockey goalie Steve Cash poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. He listens to musician Kevin Gates while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Paralympic snowboarder Mike Schultz poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. He listens to classic rock music while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Skeleton racer Matt Antoine poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. Antoine listens to '90s alternative music while he trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Biathlon athlete Lowell Bailey poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. He listens to Steely Dan and old rock while training . REUTERS/Mike Blake?
Luge racers Matt Mortensen and Jayson Terdiman pose for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. Mortensen listens to metal and punk, Five Finger Death Punch and Rise Against, while he trains and Terdiman listens to hip hop, People Under the Stairs and Kendrick Lamar. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Bobsled athlete Elana Meyers Taylor poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. She listens to hip hop and pop music while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Biathlon athlete Susan Dunklee poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. She prefers not to listen to any music while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Luge racer Tucker West poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. West listens to pop music while he trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Ice hockey player Jordan Greenway poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. He listens to hip hop music while training . REUTERS/Mike Blake
Skeleton racer Annie O'Shea poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. O'Shea listens to J. Lo and Skrillex while she trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Luge racer Erin Hamlin poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. Hamlin listens to alternative music while she trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Freestyle skier Ashley Caldwell poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. Caldwell listens to alternative rock while she trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Freestyle skier Morgan Schild poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. Schild listens to rap while she trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Snowboarder Hagen Kearney poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. He listens to Motorhead and Black Sabbath while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Freestyle skier Kiley McKinnon poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. McKinnon listens to hip hop and rock music while she trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Snowboarder Jamie Anderson poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. She listens to 90's hip hop while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Snowboarder Red Gerard poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Snowboarder Chase Josey poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. Josey listens to hip hop and punk while he trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Snowboarder Ryan Stassel poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. He listens to heavy rock while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Snowboarder Nate Holland poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. He listens to rock music while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Freestyle skier Mac Bohonnon poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. Bohonnon listens to rap music while he trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Long track speedskater KC Boutiette poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. Boutiette listens to Eminem while he trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Long track speedskater Joey Mantia poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. Mantia listens to "Work It Out" by Netsky while he trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Paralympic Snowboarder Evan Strong wears his gold medal from 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi as he poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. He listens to Reggae music while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Paralympic snowboarder Brenna Huckaby poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. She listens to pop and rap music while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Paralympic wheelchair curler Kirk Black poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. He listens to contemporary christian music while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Paralympic hockey player Declan Farmer poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. He listens to hip hop music while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Long track speedskater Joey Mantia poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. Mantia listens to "Work It Out" by Netsky while he trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Cross-country skier Kikkan Randall poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. Randall listens to Katy Perry and Lady Gaga while she trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Alpine skier Travis Ganong poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 27, 2017. Ganong listens to reggae and rock music while he trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Freestyle skier Maggie Voison poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 26, 2017. She listens to pop and rap music while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Figure skating pair Chris Knierim (L) and Alexa Scimeca Knierim pose for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 26, 2017. Chris listens to Metallica and Alexa listens to pop while they train. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Figure skating ice dancers Zach Donohue (L) and Madison Hubbell pose for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 26, 2017. Donohue listens to rock and electronic dance music while he trains and Hubbell listens to Paul Simon and The Who. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Alpine skier Steve Nyman poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 26, 2017. Nyman listens to the Red Hot Chilli Peppers while he trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Ice hockey player Alex Rigsby poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 26, 2017. She listens to electronic dance music while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Ice hockey player Meghan Duggan poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City Utah, U.S. September 26, 2017. She listens to Beyonce and Rihanna while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Ice hockey player Hilary Knight poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City Utah, U.S. September 26, 2017. She listens to pop and rap music while training . REUTERS/Mike Blake
Ice hockey player Brianna Decker poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City Utah, U.S. September 26, 2017. She listens to hip hop and country music while training. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 26, 2017. Hendrickson listens to podcasts while she trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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"There were a handful of clubs that said, 'Oh, Olympics. Great!' There were a handful of clubs, a bigger handful, that said, 'This is really too disruptive.' Then the group in the middle said, 'ehh,'" Bettman said on Monday. "Then when the IOC took the position that they didn't want to pay the expenses, the reaction from all the teams was, 'Wait, we need to re-evaluate this.' If they don't value our participation, why are we disrupting our season?'"

Bettman said he wouldn't rule out future involvement, but said it's "hard to envision a scenario where it makes sense."

Bettman also said about the league's lack of exposure in the Olympics: "This came down to exposure and being able to promote the fact that we're there. Sidney Crosby's goal in Vancouver [in the 2010 Olympics] — we're not allowed to use that footage. Think about that."

As Scott Stintson of The National Post wrote, some have been critical of the league's decision. The NHL has sent teams to Sweden and China for games in an effort to expand and promote the league — many think the Olympics would provide the same benefit. The NHL was reportedly interested in attending the 2022 Olympics in Beijing when they were negotiating with the IOC, but Bettman made it sound like that door has closed.

"[IOC President] Thomas Bach said if you don't go to Korea, you can't come to Beijing. Well, OK. Thank you."

Bettman did say the league would consider attending the Olympics if it came back to North America, saying it's a "different equation."

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