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Vlasic criticizes NHL’s decision to skip Olympics in op-ed

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Strong words from the defenseman.

World Cup Of Hockey 2016 Final - Game Two - Canada v Europe Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

In a French op-ed piece for Radio-Canada that was translated to English by the CBC, San Jose Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic strongly criticized the NHL’s decision to not send players to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

“I can’t say that I am disappointed,” Vlasic wrote, via the CBC’s translation. “When you are disappointed you can move on. When you’re in a relationship and that person leaves you, it’s disappointing and you are frustrated. But even if it’s difficult, you turn the page. No, saying that I am disappointed is not strong enough, because this is unacceptable.”

In the piece, Vlasic described the impact that winning Gold at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi had on his professional career and personal life. He is disappointed that he may not get a chance to represent his country again, but that his desire to see NHL players in the Olympics goes beyond his career, Vlasic noted.

“I’m not taking this stance solely for myself,” Vlasic wrote. “Hockey careers are so short that it’s very possible the absence of the NHL in Pyeongchang removes any chance for certain guys to play in the Olympics, simply because this creates an eight-year gap between two participations. For a professional hockey player, eight years is too long.”

Vlasic even speculated that the NHL could change its decision, if enough players throw their weight behind boycotting the league’s absence from the Olympics.

“I believe it is the players who have the upper hand,” he wrote. “Take the guys who participated in the World Cup. If 10 of them say they’re going to Pyeongchang regardless, the NHL will seriously rethink their decision.”

The 30-year-old Montreal native has long been critical of the NHL’s 2018 decision. Before the decision was finalized, it was reported in November that the NHL would send players to the Olympics if the Players Association agreed to extend the current CBA. Vlasic laughed at the reported suggestion, but wasn’t very happy.

“I started laughing,” he told reporters at the time. “That’s not negotiating. It’s not.”

“As an athlete, it’s your right to go to the Olympics. I don’t know if [the report] is true. I hope it’s not. That’s not the way you negotiate things. But, if that is true, all of a sudden they don’t mind having a two-week break in the NHL for a three-year collective bargaining agreement.”

When the decision was finalized on April 3, Vlasic tweeted the 2018 Olympics logo, and described his dissatisfaction to the San Jose Mercury News’ Paul Gackle the following day, and implied he may go to the Olympics regardless:

“We’ll see what the fine is,” Vlasic said with a grin. “Players deserve to go.

“It happens once every four years, but now we put in the World Cup, so a condensed schedule happens every two years. But for the World Cup it’s OK. Guys get injured in the World Cup, but that’s OK. Shorter summers, longer seasons, but that’s OK.”

You can read Vlasic’s thoughts in their entirety in English here, or in the untranslated French here.