Winter Olympics: Undrafted hockey player tells dad he made Team USA, gets huge hug

Jan. 2 (UPI) — Bobby Butler and his dad shared a tear-jerking moment after the Milwaukee Admirals winger revealed the news that he made the Team USA Olympic team.

And the elder Butler is a world-class hugger.

The Admirals posted a video of the exchange on Monday. The video shows the AHL star skating over toward the box. He calls his dad over for a handshake and the two share a few words. Then Butler tells his dad the big news: He’s going to Pyeongchang, South Korea, for the Winter Games.

Dad reaches over with his left arm and wraps his son up tightly. The two then exchange a relentless amount of back pats.

“I found out on Thursday, after our Wednesday game,” Butler said, via a Facebook Live session with the Admirals. “It was pretty exciting.”

Team USA Hockey general manager Jim Johannson told Butler the news. Butler won a bronze medal in 2013 at the IIHF World Championships as a member of the U.S. Men’s National Team.

“[Being an Olympian] was one of my main goals for this year,” Butler said on Facebook Live. “I’m just lucky to have the opportunity.”

Butler, 30, was one of 14 forwards chosen for the U.S. Olympic men’s hockey squad. He has 16 goals and 21 assists in 94 NHL Appearances. Butler is playing in the Nashville Predators organization.

The NHL announced in April that it will not participate in the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics.

“We have previously made clear that while the overwhelming majority of our clubs are adamantly opposed to disrupting the 2017-18 NHL season for purposes of accommodating Olympic participation by some NHL players, we were open to hearing from any of the other parties who might have an interest in the issue [e.g., the IOC, the IIHF, the NHLPA, etc] as to reasons the Board of Governors might be interested in re-evaluating their strongly held views on the subject,” the NHL said in a statement.

“A number of months have now passed and no meaningful dialogue has materialized. Instead, the IOC has now expressed the position that the NHL’s participation in Beijing in 2022 is conditioned on our participation in South Korea in 2018. And the NHLPA has now publicly confirmed that it has no interest or intention of engaging in any discussion that might make Olympic participation more attractive to the clubs. As a result, and in an effort to create clarity among conflicting reports and erroneous speculation, this will confirm our intention to proceed with finalizing our 2017-18 regular season schedule without any break to accommodate the Olympic Winter Games. We now consider the matter officially closed.”

One of the reasons the league chose not to participate was that there is a 17-day break in the schedule required in February. That break comes when the NFL season is over and before the Major League Baseball season begins. The NHL participated in every other Winter Olympics since 1998.

The NHL Players’ Association relayed that the players were disappointed with the decision.

“The players are extraordinarily disappointed and adamantly disagree with the NHL’s shortsighted decision to not continue our participation in the Olympics,” the NHLPA said in a statement.
“Any sort of inconvenience the Olympics may cause to next season’s schedule is a small price to pay compared to the opportunity to showcase our game and our greatest players on this enormous international stage.”

“A unique opportunity lies ahead with the 2018 and 2022 Olympics in Asia. The NHL may believe it is penalizing the IOC or the players, or both, for not giving the owners some meaningful concessions in order to induce them to agree to go to PyeongChang. Instead this impedes the growth of our great game by walking away from an opportunity to reach sports fans worldwide.”

“Moreover, it is doing so after the financial issues relating to insurance and transportation have been resolved with the IOC and IIHF. The League’s efforts to blame others for its decision is as unfortunate as the decision itself. NHL players are patriotic and they do not take this lightly. A decent respect for the opinions of the players matters. This is the NHL’s decision, and its alone. It is very unfortunate for the game, the players and millions of loyal hockey fans.”

Team USA is in Group B with Slovakia, Slovenia and the Olympic Athletes from Russia. The Americans kick off their quest for gold on Feb. 14 against Slovenia. The gold medal game is on Feb. 25.

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