Charlie McAvoy left little doubt: The Boston Bruins defenseman was disappointed about the decision by the NHL and the players’ association to pull out of the Olympic Games, scheduled for Beijing in February.

McAvoy spoke with reporters on Thursday via Zoom just before the club was set to button up for Christmas.

“Disappointment, for sure. Definitely a little bit of sadness. I think it was something that, if given the opportunity, I was absolutely going to go. And I really think I was going to enjoy every second of it,” said the New York native who would have been a likely selection for Team USA. “I’ve dreamed of that for a long time. So, disappointing is really the only word to describe it. But, given the circumstances, I think the decision was made. I think everyone on the Bruins, all of our teammates that had anticipated going and planning to have that chance, were pretty saddened by it. I think it was unanimous. We all really wanted to go.”

Not only is COVID and the omicron variant surging around the world, but there were some serious concerns about the length of quarantine – a possible three to five weeks – if anyone tested positive while in China.

But McAvoy felt the desire to compete in the best-on-best tournament in an Olympic setting would have overridden concerns.

“I honestly think that every single guy was going to go, if given the opportunity,” said McAvoy. “I think the thought of going to the Olympic Games is something everyone dreams of, the opportunity to represent your country. Yeah, I think as far as it stood with our players, the opportunity to see a dream come true was worth it.”


McAvoy echoed some of Cam Neely’s thoughts the team president expressed Wednesday, that it sometimes felt like they were simply “looking for trouble” by testing asymptomatic players daily.

“My frustration is just with the news of the Olympics – in my mind, and it’s hindsight — is what could we have done if we weren’t testing unless guys were symptomatic or whatever it may be, if there were different rules and regulations?” said McAvoy. “Could we have prevented this circumstance which would have let us still get to February and the finish line and give us the opportunity if called to go over? That’s really my only frustration. But there are people at the top in high positions who are smarter than me who make these decisions. I know they’re looking out for what’s best for our game and the integrity of the NHL and how we’re going to put a good product out there.”

David Pastrnak would have represented his native Czechia and was looking forward to teaming up with former Bruin David Krejci. That’s not going to happen now.

“I’m obviously frustrated. It’s just tough,” said Pastrnak. “For European players, growing up as a kid, that’s your dream to make it. It’s pretty sad that this is the second Olympics in a row you’re missing as a player. It’s nobody’s fault and I’m not blaming anybody, it’s just the world we’re living in and it’s just unfortunate because the Olympics don’t happen every single year. It’s really frustrating. It’s sad, but at the same time, I understand the situation we’re in and the whole world is in.”

The good news for McAvoy, 24, and Pastrnak, 25, is that there’s still time for them to go to the Olympics in 2026. That may not be true for the 33-year-old Brad Marchand, who fell victim to the NHL’s decision not to go to South Korea in 2018, and now Beijing.

“That definitely crossed my mind,” said Pastrnak. “I definitely feel sorry for him. I haven’t spoke to him about how he feels about the Olympics overall, but I’m pretty sure he’d be honored to put the Canadian jersey on.”

FOR PASTRNAK, the extended Christmas break has been timed well for him, personally, for a number of reasons.

“I definitely think it’s good for me, I can get my (mind) off hockey a little bit and my family came here. I’ve been looking forward to have them. They haven’t been here in two and a half years, so my brother, my mom and my friend are here. I’ve been stressing wondering if they’d be able to come to the country, so I’m really happy they’re here. It’s great to take my time and take my (mind) off hockey. I definitely needed it,” said Pastrnak.

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