Marc-Edouard Vlasic was determined to play in the Winter Olympic hockey tournament. Then his lawyers got ahold of him. The Sharks’ defenseman was furious that the NHL — which had sent players to every Winter Olympics since 1998 — decided it didn’t want to have another three-week, regular-season interruption. In place of some of the best players in the world, the U.S. national team roster in Pyeongchang will be filled with NCAA players, professionals competing without two-way NHL contracts in other leagues and those skating in Europe. “I’m frustrated with who is not letting me go,” said Vlasic. “People bash the (U.S.) team that was selected, but they’re on there because they’re the best players who can represent our country.” Vlasic continued to strenuously plead his case until his lawyers sat him down for a chat. According to Vlasic, he was told that he risked termination of his eight-year, $56million contract extension, would have to defy a court order and — if he ended up skating for Canada — possibly be subject to arrest. “Do you want to do that?” said Vlasic. “You’re getting pretty far into the legal department there.” When the league announced its decision in April, it blamed disputes between the NHL and the International Olympic Committee over who would pay for the athletes’ travel, insurance and accommodations. The NHL also was dealing with a number of influential owners who couldn’t reconcile the notion that shuttering the NHL for three weeks in exchange for showcasing their game on a broader stage halfway around the world would, in the end, benefit what has become a $4 billion-a-year industry.
Vlasic considered risking arrest, contract termination to play at PyeongChang 2018
San Francisco Gate | Feb 2