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NHL made bad call on no players in 2018 Olympics

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Brandon Folsom, Special to the Detroit Free Press
Published 6:37 p.m. ET Aug. 3, 2017 | Updated 6:41 p.m. ET Aug. 3, 2017

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Marlowe Alter, Detroit Free Press

The NHL announced in April its players won’t be allowed to play in the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.

That didn’t sit well with most of its players, including Detroit Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser.

“I don’t think that’s a very good decision,” DeKeyser said after a recent youth hockey clinic at Echo Grove Camp near Oxford. “I don’t know who that benefits. It hurts everybody involved – both parties (players and NHL owners) – so it doesn’t really make sense.”

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the main reason to skip the Olympics is team owners don’t want to take 17 days off in February 2018. The owners feel that time frame is ideal for hockey on TV because the NFL is wrapping up the playoffs and the MLB is yet to start.

“Quite frankly, we don’t see what the benefit is from the game standpoint or the league standpoint with respect to Olympic participation,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in a release when the league made its announcement.

The benefit is simple from the perspective of players, DeKeyser said: Representing your country on an international stage is an honor.

He got to do that with Team USA after the Red Wings missed the playoffs for the first time in 25 seasons this year.

“I played in the world championship tournament in Europe for three weeks after the season,” said DeKeyser, referencing the U.S.’s fifth-place finish in the IIHF World Championship in May. The U.S. finished 6-2 and lost to Finland, 2-0, in the tournament quarterfinal.

DeKeyser hopes the NHL changes its mind on the Olympics before 2018, but he admitted: “As players, there’s really not much we can do.”

“I think it’d be great, and I know guys want to do it,” the fifth-year pro said. “I think it’s up to the league to let us do it.”

Even without NHL players, USA Hockey said it’ll assemble a team that can compete with any country in 2018.

“We have some 21- and 22-year-olds who are high-end players who we are going to see in the NHL sooner rather than later,” USA Hockey executive director Pat Kelleher told USA Today on Saturday. “No other country has that type of player available to them.”

LCA TICKETS: Tickets for the Red Wings’ preseason opener at Little Caesars Arena will go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday. 

The Red Wings open the preseason schedule with three road games before returning to Detroit to face the Bruins on Sept. 23. 

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