In an email to the Associated Press on Monday, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said that the NHL will consider barring players from attending and playing in the Sochi Winter Olympics in February if something “significant” happens before players are due to arrive.
Here’s more of Daly’s statement, from Sportsnet:
“He doesn’t expect it will become necessary to keep NHL players home because of the steps taken by the Sochi Organizing Committee, the Russian government and the International Olympic Committee. But he says the league will reassess if it appears to be “an unreasonably dangerous situation” in Russia.”
Last week, Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane addressed the issue of player safety in Sochi, telling the media that “if I’m worried about that, my head’s in the wrong area.”
Kane said that his girlfriend, mom, and sister will all be heading to Russia with him for the Games and did acknowledge that it’s impossible to put it completely out of mind.
“You hear different stuff, obviously you’re going to be scared at first,” he said. “Think a little bit about it, but obviously hope everything gets figured out.”
Kane is one of 10 Blackhawks who will be heading over to the Olympics, which get under way on February 6. The men’s ice hockey tournament gets underway on February 12.
Other players have already made arrangements due to safety concerns. Phoenix Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith, who will represent Canada along with Blackhawks Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, and Duncan Keith, will not be bringing his family to Sochi, saying that it’s “not worth it” to risk their safety outside of the Olympic village.
Team USA stars Zach Parise and Ryan Suter also won't be bringing theri families to the Olympics, according to Chad Graff of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Other players are more optimistic when it comes to safety issues. According to Sean Gentille of the Sporting News, both Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby (captain of Team Canada) and Montreal’s Max Pacioretty (Team USA forward) feel that the safety measures implemented by the various agencies involved, which include over 50,000 police officers and soldiers, will be sufficient for them to feel safe during the Olympics.