Winter Olympics 2018: Chelios frustrated by ´politics´ in IOC-NHL pay dispute

12 Februar 2018 15:53

United States assistant coach Chris Chelios has criticised the "politics" that prevented NHL players from representing their country at the Winter Olympics.

A pay dispute between the IOC and NHL over who would cover the cost of travel, accommodation and insurance meant the league would not release players for the Games in Pyeongchang, dealing a blow to the pool of athletes available for the United States in South Korea.

Chelios is one of the more recognised faces in the team's ice hockey contingent having featured at four Olympics, captaining the team on three occasions in 1998, 2002 and 2006.

The 56-year-old is disappointed that no agreement was made to allow NHL players to feature, but welcomed the opportunity for those that have travelled to South Korea.

Speaking to Omnisport, the 2002 silver medallist said: "We talk about growing the game and unfortunately it comes down to the politics, which I hate. 

"Regular politics, and of course it's creeped into sports, and it came down to a negotiation between the owners and the players. 

"On the other side I couldn't be happier for these guys, a year ago they had no idea they'd be in this position, they're going to appreciate it, I'm happy for them and their families."

Captain Brian Gionta earned the call after the Buffalo Sabres opted not to re-sign him during the 2017 offseason and, while sympathising with those in the NHL that cannot play, he is excited to lead his country.

"Yes for sure, I've been on both sides of it. For sure, as an NHL player you're disappointed because everyone wants to play at an Olympics and represent their country, much like these guys do too," he said. 

"With one door that closes another one is opened, it's why I love where our team is at. It sends chills down your spine to represent your country and to lead them is pretty special."

Team USA start their quest for gold with a Group B encounter against Slovenia on Wednesday.

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