The NHL announced Monday that it will not participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, refusing for the first time in 20 years to halt its season for three weeks so its stars can chase gold for their home countries.

From Alex Ovechkin and Jonathan Toews to Connor McDavid and Henrik Lundqvist, the world’s best players called playing in the Olympics important. The league decided otherwise.

Commissioner Gary Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly informed the NHL Players Association that the matter was “officially closed” after weeks of speculation.

The NHL had allowed its players to participate in the last five Olympics dating to 1998, giving the Winter Games pro-level star power akin to the NBA players who participate in the Summer Olympics.

The league said no meaningful dialogue had emerged in talks with the NHLPA, International Olympic Committee and International Ice Hockey Federation. Even after the IIHF had agreed to pay for players’ travel and insurance costs when the IOC refused, the NHL had been looking for more concessions that were believed to include marketing opportunities tied to the Games. The league wanted the matter resolved before the playoffs begin April 13.

Players immediately blasted the decision.

“Disappointing news, (the NHL) won’t be part of the Olympics 2018. A huge opportunity to market the game at the biggest stage is wasted,” tweeted Lundqvist, the New York Rangers’ goaltender who won the 2006 Olympic gold medal with Sweden. “But most of all, disappointing for all the players that can’t be part of the most special adventure in sports.”

Former NHL forward Brandon Prust, who’s now playing in Germany, tweeted: “Way to ruin the sport of hockey even more Gary #Olympics.”

“Good to see the NHL and Gary Bettman always looking out for the good of the game,” prominent agent Allan Walsh tweeted. “So much for that grand partnership with the players.”

The NHL and NHLPA teamed up on the return of the World Cup of Hockey last fall and had made strides on growing the sport internationally, including games in China and Sweden later this year.

The NHL has not ruled out participating in the 2022 Olympics in Beijing, though the IIHF and IOC had indicated that could be conditional on the NHL going to South Korea. For now, the league is making its 2017-18 schedule without a break for the Olympics.