Boston Bruins

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - OCTOBER 02: Brad Marchand #63 of the Boston Bruins celebrates after scoring a goal against the New York Rangers during the first period of the preseason game at TD Garden on October 02, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

There’s no doubt that Bruins winger Brad Marchand, one of the absolute best wingers in hockey for the last half decade and showing no signs of slowing down, was in line for the first (and perhaps only) Olympic appearance of his NHL career.

Then the NHL made the inevitable call to pull out of the 2022 Beijing Olympics.

That, as you would imagine, is not sitting well with the 33-year-old star.

“It’s very disappointing,” Marchand, speaking for the first time since the NHL announced their decision, said earlier this week. “You know that [was] something that was promised and part of the CBA when we last signed the deal. I almost felt like they were trying to get out of it for a while and they didn’t want us to go.”

Getting out of the Olympics wasn’t an NHL-as-a-league specific issue. The Golden Knights’ Robin Lehner opted out for Team Sweden before the league made their own call, and countless players had reservations about the trek to Beijing given the potential extensive quarantine issues that would arise should a player test positive during the games. And given the rate at which the entire sports world has tested positive in recent weeks, that mess of a stay seemed bound to strike someone.

But count Marchand among those that clearly wanted a say in the matter.

“It should be the player’s option to go play in the tournament,” Marchand, who last competed for Canada at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, said. “It’s the Olympics. It’s the best of the best. If you’ve earned the right and you’ve earned the the opportunity to go there, you should have the option to go play. So it’s extremely disappointing that the players aren’t going.

“I think guys have worked their entire lives to put themselves in a position to compete at that level and that opportunity, and it should be their decisions whether they choose to go or not regardless of what’s happening in the world. If the Olympics are on and they’re playing and the best players in the world should have that option. So, it’s tough to deal with.”

Marchand later took to Twitter to further harp on this decision being taken out of the hands of the athletes. And he didn’t hold back when it came to the NHL’s involvement in this, both on Twitter and in his Zoom earlier this week.

“I know that at the end of the day, they really they don’t care about the Olympics, they don’t make money on it,” Marchand said of the NHL. “And that’s ultimately what this is. It’s a business, you know, and we’re an asset. Let’s just call a spade a spade.”

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Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.