“These are opportunities and experiences of a lifetime that you don’t get very many of as an athlete, and you might only get one,” said Crosby, who won Olympic gold with Canada in 2010 and 2014. “It just might happen to fall in your window and if it doesn’t happen to work out, it’s unfortunate.”

The NHL is not sending players to the Beijing Olympics over concerns that the pandemic will disrupt the league’s ability to complete a full season, the AP reports.

Two people with direct knowledge of discussions told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the league informed the NHL Players’ Association it was exercising its right to withdraw from the Beijing Games because there was a material disruption to the season.

The people spoke to The AP on condition of anonymity because an announcement had yet to be made. An announcement was expected Wednesday.

The decision is an abrupt turnaround from September, when the NHL, union, International Olympic Committee and International Ice Hockey Federation struck a deal to put the best players in the world back on sports’ biggest stage after they skipped the 2018 Pyeongchang Games. The fast-spreading omicron coronavirus variant forced the scrapping of those plans.

Then a sudden rash of postponements brought the total to 50 this season, a daunting number to reschedule and complete an 82-game season while taking an Olympic break for more than two weeks in February. The NHL’s bottom line is at stake, with the league and players drawing no direct money from competing at the Winter Games.

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