In a statement released by the NHL on Monday, the league said that it is barring its players from participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics. The 2018 Winter Games is the first time in more than two decades that the NHL has not allowed players to participate in the Olympics.
The NHL traditionally takes a two-week break during the Olympics to allow its top players to join various national teams.
A big reason for the NHL pulling out of the 2018 Winter Games is due to the location of the Olympics. Next year's Winter Games are being held in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Although the NHL does not directly benefit from the Olympics, sending its top players has featured some of the most watched hockey games in television history. The 2010 Gold Medal match between the United States and Canada was the most-watched hockey game featuring professionals.
Without NHL players, it is unclear what direction the International Olympic Committee will take hockey in the Winter Games. Before Monday's announcement, some players have hinted they may defy the NHL and try to participate anyway. One of those players is Russian Alexander Ovechkin, who has already committed to playing in the 2018 Olympics.