Players overwhelmingly in favor of playing in the Winter Olympics

The players are unanimous in their desire to play in the Olympics again. Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Do you want the NHL to participate in the Olympics? Why or why not?

Ben Bishop, Los Angeles Kings: "Yes, I think they should go to the Olympics. Fans and players get so excited for it. If we didn't go, it would be a big letdown to both."

Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks: "I think so. Firsthand experience, it was a great experience for myself. I was in Torino and then in Vancouver. I think it's good for hockey. I think it's good for hockey worldwide. It definitely promotes players going and representing their countries, and I know players really enjoy it."

Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning: "I can only speak for myself, but my answer might be a little different just because I didn't get a chance to play [in Sochi] because of injury last time, so I really want to go. In talking to a lot of players, I've yet to hear someone say they didn't want to get a chance to represent their country at the Olympics. I know it's been a hot topic, but the players have said it since Day 1 and haven't strayed away, that we really want a chance to have a once-in-a-lifetime-chance experience. You never know how many chances you're going to get to represent your country on a stage like the Olympics."

Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs: "I think everybody likes the idea of the Olympics. For sure, I remember always watching them growing up. Obviously, to play in them would be a great honor. I've represented my country in the [U.S. national program], the world championships, the world juniors. It's always pretty special to put on your country's jersey. It's definitely very important for all the players."

Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins: "I think every player wants to be part of the Olympics. It's one of the biggest stages that any athlete can participate in and compete in. It makes it so special when you have your best athletes all over the world competing against each other. Anytime there's some sort of interference, it looks bad on the sport and it looks bad on the people making the decisions. We are at a point where people need to really sit down behind one table and find a solution instead of always kind of being defensive, I would say, or finding ways not to find solutions. That's what I'm hoping for and believe that it will eventually happen -- things will find a way and fall into place for the Olympics, for the sport and for the history of all the nations being in the same place."

Mikko Koivu, Minnesota Wild: "I understand it's a break for the regular season, but worldwide for the fans, as someone that comes from Finland, it's the biggest sport that people back there follow. As an athlete, too, a lot of athletes don't get to experience that. I think it's a very special event. Just the atmosphere and getting the chance to spend time with other athletes -- to me that's all about sports, and it's just the right thing to do."

Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings: "Yes. The Olympics are supposed to symbolize the best in the world. That's in the NHL: Most of the best players in the world play in the NHL. I think all the guys, no matter where you're from, want to represent their country at the highest level."

Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators: "Absolutely. It's one of the most important things for the hockey community outside of North America, probably, to watch the superstars play at the same time. Coming from Sweden, we never got the opportunity to watch NHL games, or watch NHL live, and you don't see it on TV as much. The Olympics were probably the only time that we really sat down and watched everybody together. For the sake of the hockey game, not allowing us to go is going to cause a lot of damage. ... It's an opportunity to let everybody see how good the game has become and get the opportunity to see the best players at the same time. It's easy marketing for the league to do by just sending guys, and guys want to go. I don't think I have ever spoken to anyone who has ever been in an Olympics, or would have an opportunity to go to the next one, that doesn't want to go."

Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks: "As a player, the level of hockey there (I know it's high in the playoffs, but...) when you're in a one-game-takes-all and you're on Canada playing the U.S., there's no better hockey you're going to be a part of. As a competitive guy, I want to be part of those games. And obviously I want to represent my country again and bring home the gold. On top of all that, it's good for hockey to have the best players in the world at the Olympics. Otherwise, what is it, really?"

Thomas Vanek, Florida Panthers: "I like it. I think my best memories as a kid were watching Olympic hockey. For a lot of kids around, speaking from the European side of it, they don't get to see that much NHL hockey because of the time difference, but I think for the Olympics, it doesn't matter where it was, you kind of stayed up or the games were televised the next day, so I think the exposure of the [Olympic] game was just so much greater than an NHL game."

Mikael Granlund, Minnesota Wild: "All I know is that in 2014, when I played in Sochi, it was one of the greatest tournaments I've been in. As a player and an athlete, being able to play in an Olympic Games, I'm really proud of that. ... I love the Olympic atmosphere and everything with it. I hope we can play."

Frans Nielsen, Detroit Red Wings: "Yes. If we want to grow our game worldwide, it's important. You need the best players there to do that. Over there, even on the business side, it's a big market over there, where hockey isn't big right now. You need your best players to advertise it everywhere. I know it's not going to be prime time over here with the time change, but there's still going to be kids in Europe watching hockey. It's one of the major events in the Olympics. We want to keep growing our game worldwide. It's important the best players participate."

Filip Forsberg, Nashville Predators: "I don't see why we wouldn't, especially [because] everyone wants to play. All the players want to play. I guess, obviously, it's going to be a little bit of a break in the season, but we're doing that break already, I feel like, [with bye weeks]. Yeah, I would love to play. I've never had a chance and, yeah, growing up watching it and just not for the hockey, just for the whole experience of everything around it. I don't think that would be a very good decision to take that away from all the players."

Eric Staal, Minnesota Wild: "It's a great experience as players and as fans to watch it. It's the best-on-best in the tournament. So from that angle, I think it's awesome. But at the same time, I can see it's a long [distance] away. It's South Korea. That's not like you're going to Vancouver. So there's logistic things that go along with it, and you're in the middle of the hockey season. I can see how it's not just like jumping on a flight for two hours. There's a lot of other things that go on with it. So for me it'd be great just because it's a great tournament and it's a great experience. As a player, it's a great experience, and as a fan, to watch. But the games are at three in the morning, and it's that far away, maybe it's not going to look the same as in other places. That's just because of where it is. Once you're there as a player, it's going to be just the same, but as far as an audience, it's a little bit different, I guess."

Mitch Marner, Toronto Maple Leafs: "It's the thing everyone loves watching -- seeing all the top countries playing in that tournament. It's the thing everyone wakes up and loves watching. I don't remember a time of NHL players not being able to go. It's exciting to watch the Olympics with those guys a part of it. ... Everyone wants to play for that crest. If an opportunity like that comes and it gets shut down, it would suck a lot. But there's nothing you can do about it."

Devan Dubnyk, Minnesota Wild: "I think all the players would like to play in the Olympics. It's a special event. I haven't had the opportunity to play in them, but I know from watching it throughout my career and throughout my life, it's a special event. I imagine the guys going there with such a different atmosphere, with all the different athletes there and the different sports. It's a unique experience that I think every player will tell you is something they wouldn't want to miss."

Johnny Oduya, Chicago Blackhawks: "Personally, yes, I think the Olympics is the biggest stage in the world. It's something very positive that would spread the game of hockey around the globe with being where it is in the upcoming two Olympics here with South Korea and China. Those are two markets that everybody in the NHL is interested in expanding the game to. I see it as a very positive thing for everybody involved. Of course, there's some concern from owners, I'm assuming, that maybe some players might get hurt, there's more taxation on players [physically], the issue of revenue and things like that. But overall, in the long run, I think it's a positive thing. Players want to go there and play. I've been fortunate to be part of two Olympics. As a player, it's something that's very special."

Reid Duke, Vegas Golden Knights: "Oh, of course. I'd have to agree with the players. You just watch them on TV and you see how passionate they get about wanting to represent their country. I think that's one of the highest honors you can achieve, is representing where you're from. I don't think that the Olympics will be the same without [NHL players]. ... It's something that would be a little strange without having those players there."

Mike Babcock, Toronto Maple Leafs: "I think it's really important. Getting your name on the Stanley Cup is something you dream about. Playing for your country in the Olympics, playing best on best, there's no better event, there is none. So to have that opportunity, I think, is important. I think it's important to showcase your game every year [and] not just pick and choose when it's your turn or when you'd like to go. But I don't own any teams."

Dan Bylsma, Buffalo Sabres: "I think it's the biggest stage, the best venue, the greatest players in the game playing. I have mixed feelings about what it does to the NHL season. I have mixed feelings about the break for the year. I have mixed feelings about seeing John Tavares get injured in the Olympic games. Those are all part of that, but I just like the aspect of the best players in the world playing on the biggest stage. It's the best tournament. It happens once every four years. ... I would like them all to be able to go and play in the greatest tournament we have."

Brian Boucher, retired: "I get why the NHL players should be there, because it's best-on-best and fans want to see that. It is really cool to see NHL players playing for their country, even if those countries aren't powerhouses on the world stage. For that, it's really cool. But I grew up in a time when the Olympics, from a Canadian and American standpoint, were about the amateurs and the college kids getting a chance, and maybe guys that were on the tail end of their career. I see a really cool story in that as well, although it may not be great from a marketing standpoint, because it would be players that many [fans] don't know. But I always found interest in that from a hockey standpoint. I remember the '92 Olympics. I remember the '88 Olympics. I remember the '94 Olympics, when these kids traveled around with the U.S. national team all year, and you hear a story about a kid who got cut on the last weekend before the Olympics took place, or you get to know who these kids are while on the Olympic stage. ... I see it two ways. But the fans, for the most part, want to see the best players, and I can't blame them for that because they want to see the best hockey possible. But from a storytelling standpoint, I always love the stories of the underdog."

-- Pierre LeBrun, Scott Burnside, Craig Custance, Joe McDonald