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Here's why the NHL might sit out the next Winter Olympics


The NHL might skip the next Winter Olympics, even though the league's players want to go.

Commissioner Gary Bettman said league owners "have become increasingly negative" about sending players to the games in 2018.

SEE MORE: The NHL Is Getting High-Tech With Its Pucks

There are a few reasons why the NHL is hesitant. First off, the Winter Olympics are in the middle of the NHL season, and the league doesn't like calling off two weeks' worth of games so players can go overseas.

This also explains why it isn't the players' call. They can't go to the Olympics if they have games to play back home.

Then, there's a new wrinkle: The International Olympic Committee won't cover players' costs for insurance and travel to the games, an amount valued at $10 million.

"I'm pretty sure that our teams are not really interested in paying for the privilege of disrupting our season. But, we'll have to see what they ultimately decide to do," Bettman said at a press conference in May.

The International Ice Hockey Federation says it's doing everything it can to find money to cover those costs but may have to take some funds out of hockey development programs, which the NHL isn't a fan of.

The NHL also isn't a fan of the location: Pyeongchang, South Korea. It's not exactly ideal for a league trying to promote its product.

"When you do it in a time zone that's nine hours ahead of the East Coast of North America, you're looking at games at 4 in the morning till, I don't know, 2 in the afternoon. That's not exactly prime-time exposure," Bettman said in an interview with CBC's George Stroumboulopoulos.

Bettman has said before that having the Winter Olympics in Vancouver in 2010 and Salt Lake City in 2002 was great for the league since it engaged fans in North America.

On the flip side, the 2022 games in China are an important opportunity for a sport trying to gain popularity there. But South Korea doesn't appear to be moving the needle in terms of NHL interest.

Essentially, the NHL is asking the Olympics, "What's in it for us?" So far, the league hasn't received a compelling answer.

Related: See the best from last season's NHL playoffs:

14 PHOTOS
Best of the 2016 NHL playoffs
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Best of the 2016 NHL playoffs
PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 22: Nikita Kucherov #86 of the Tampa Bay Lightning celebrates after scoring a goal against Marc-Andre Fleury #29 of the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Consol Energy Center on May 22, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 16: Andrei Vasilevskiy #88 of the Tampa Bay Lightning gives up a goal to Phil Kessel #81 of the Pittsburgh Penguins during the first period in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Consol Energy Center on May 16, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 13: Ondrej Palat #18 of the Tampa Bay Lightning scores a goal against Matt Murray #30 of the Pittsburgh Penguins during the second period in Game One of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 13, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 15: David Backes #42 of the St. Louis Blues (R) celebrates with Jaden Schwartz #17 after scoring a first period goal against Martin Jones #31 of the San Jose Sharks (not pictured) in Game One of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 15, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 25: Troy Brouwer #36 of the St. Louis Blues celebrates after scoring the game-winning goal against the Chicago Blackhawks in Game Seven of the Western Conference First Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Scottrade Center on April 25, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri. The blues beat the Blackhawks 3-2 to win the series. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/ Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL - APRIL 27: Ben Bishop #30 of the Tampa Bay Lightning makes a save as Nikolay Kulemin #86 of the New York Islanders crashes into Jason Garrison #5 during the first period in Game One of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on April 27, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 02: Braden Holtby #70 of the Washington Capitals reacts after being scored on by Tom Kuhnhackl #34 of the Pittsburgh Penguins (not pictured) in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Consol Energy Center on May 2, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 20: Roberto Luongo #1 of the Florida Panthers is pushed aside as players from the Panthers and the New York Islanders converge in the crease during the second period in Game Four of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Barclays Center on April 20, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
ST. PAUL, MN - APRIL 20: Jason Spezza #90 of the Dallas Stars scores a goal against Jason Pominville #29 and goalie Devan Dubnyk #40 of the Minnesota Wild in Game Four of the Western Conference First Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 20, 2016 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 27: Clayton Stoner #3 of the Anaheim Ducks and Viktor Arvidsson #38 of the Nashville Predators leap to avoid a collision during the second period of Game Seven of the Western Conference First Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Honda Center on April 27, 2016 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - APRIL 19: Niklas Kronwall #55 of the Detroit Red Wings battles for the puck with Jonathan Drouin #27 of the Tampa Bay Lightning during the third period of Game Four of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Joe Louis Arena on April 19, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. Tampa Bay won the game 3-2. Tampa Bay leads the series 3-1. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 23: Sami Vatanen #45 of the Anaheim Ducks reacts after scoring on a breakaway against goaltender Pekka Rinne #35 of the Nashville Predators in the third period of Game Five of the Western Conference First Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Honda Center on April 23, 2016 in Anaheim, California. Vatanen's goal was the eventual game-winning goal. The Ducks defeated the Predators 5-2. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 20: Andrew MacDonald #47 of the Philadelphia Flyers celebrates after scoring against the Washington Capitals during the second period in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center on April 20, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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