Olympics-Bruins' Marchand slams NHL's move to skip Beijing Games over COVID

  • Hockey
  • Wednesday, 29 Dec 2021

FILE PHOTO: Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand (63) during the face off against the Calgary Flames during the second period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Dec 11, 2021; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) - Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand has criticised the National Hockey League's (NHL) decision to not send its players to compete in the men's ice hockey competition at the Beijing Winter Olympics over COVID-19 concerns.

The league took the decision last week citing the "profound disruption" to its schedule from the pandemic before reaching an agreement with the players' body to allow teams to form temporary 'taxi squads' to avoid further disruptions.

As many as 80 games have been postponed this season due to COVID-19 outbreaks in teams.

Marchand said the league had found a way to "change the rules" of its collective bargaining agreement -- through which players had negotiated a return to the Olympics after missing out in 2018 -- and also add temporary squads.

"Yet they can't do a taxi squad during the Olympics so they can honour the agreement they made so the NHL players can go," Marchand, who was set to represent Canada for the first time at the Games, tweeted.

He added players should have had the choice of forfeiting their pay while competing at the Feb. 4-20 Olympics.

The NHL had until Jan. 10 to withdraw from the Games without financial penalty.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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