According to the Wall Street Journal, months of negotiations between the two organizations eventually fell through. The NHL announced that the majority of its clubs expressed an overwhelming opposition to taking a break mid-season for the games, and therefore they would not be releasing any players for the tournament.
The NHL’s decision is a huge setback to the IOC, who has struggled for many years to find cities that would bid to host the Winter Games. However, NHL teams have been complaining for a long time that the exposure provided by the Winter Games doesn’t compensate the loss of income or potential for injuries players face when they compete.
In a last ditch effort to keep the NHL, the IOC stated that if they skipped the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea (a country where hockey has little popularity), they wouldn’t be allowed to participate in the following 2022 Winter Games in Beijing (a country the NHL has been trying to expand into). The strategy clearly didn’t work though, so it may be a long while before we see our favorite hockey stars competing in the Winter Olympics again.