FILE - Canada's Brad Marchand (63) celebrates his goal against Europe during the third period of Game 2 of the World Cup of Hockey finals, in Toronto on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016. A handful of NHL players are voicing frustration over the decision not to allow them to go to the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing. Marchand ripped the league and NHLPA on social media Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021 for adding taxi squads to keep the season going but not in February to give players the option to leave for the Olympics. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

NHL players vent frustration over being barred from Olympics

NHL players vent frustration over being barred from Olympics

Brad Marchand is not happy. Neither is Vladimir Tarasenko. And they are not alone.

A handful of NHL players are voicing their frustration over the league’s decision barring them from participating in the Beijing Olympics. Even though the agreement between the league and NHL Players’ Association was contingent on pandemic conditions not worsening and disrupting the season, many say they are upset they were never given the choice to go.

Marchand, Boston’s top left winger who would have been a shoo-in for Canada’s Olympic roster, ripped the league and union for bringing back taxi squads to keep the season going but not to push through February with players given the option to go to Beijing.

“For all of you who want to pipe back about forfeiting pay while being gone, (yeah) not a problem,” Marchand said in a lengthy Twitter post. “Let the players make their choice.”

Letting players make individual choices to leave their NHL teams for the Olympics was never on the table. The possibility broached by Marchand and Tarasenko happens more in soccer, which allows players to go on loan to national teams for international competition when a season is not paused.

Tarasenko would have been one of Russia’s top forwards at the Olympics and said he would have left the St. Louis Blues to represent his country if given the choice.

“Of course,” he said. “You would be surprised how many people choose to go.”

Alex Ovechkin said he wanted to go to the Pyeongchang Games in 2018 even if the NHL did not participate. The Washington Capitals captain relented before training camp in 2017, with he and other players begrudgingly accepting the Olympics would go on without them and hoping 2022 would be different.

A second consecutive Olympics without the NHL has some looking back with sharper anger to 2018, when the International Olympic Committee would not pay for travel and insurance costs as it did five times from 1998-2014. Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said players were “robbed” of the chance four years ago.

“Obviously this year with what’s going on in the world, it’s a little more understandable,” Stamkos said.

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