NHLPA reschedules return flights

Updated: February 28, 2010, 7:51 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

U.S. hockey players had to have their flights home rescheduled after the NHL Player's Association booked them to return prior to Sunday's gold-medal game against Canada.

Jonathan Weatherdon, a spokesperson for the NHLPA, said in an e-mail to ESPN.com that everything is set for the players to return after the gold-medal game.

"NHLPA members from all nations were all made aware of their travel plans prior to the Olympics and the US, Finland, Russia and Slovakia have all had their departure flights changed by the NHLPA," Weatherdon said in the e-mail.

"The NHLPA has travel staff on site in Vancouver in order to, as expected, handle the changing travel plans for players and their guests based on the tournament results.

"There have been no issues at all with the players. This is simply common practice."

Los Angeles Kings defenseman Jack Johnson told the Los Angeles Times on Saturday night that the Olympic team had been scheduled to depart Vancouver on Sunday morning, well before their 3:15 p.m. matchup with host Canada.

"They scheduled all the Americans to fly out Sunday morning," Johnson told the Times. "Whoever is in charge of this scheduled us to fly out tomorrow morning and I think the Russians and Swedes are supposed to fly out on Monday. I'm glad we get to change that."

Johnson chartered a flight to Vancouver to be part of the opening ceremony, but told the Times that was not an option for his return to the States.

The NHLPA handles travel arrangements for the Olympics, and Weatherdon's e-mail said the logistic didn't allow for not proactively making plans.

"The NHLPA booked the traveling for hundreds of individuals, including players and their families and guests," the e-mail said. "Due to the significant amount of flights that needed to be booked, we proactively booked departing and returning flights for all players -- with the return flights based on last year's [International Ice Hockey Federation] World Championships results and their national team's IIHF ranking.

"It is not possible to wait to book return flights until after teams are eliminated due to the large numbers of people who are in Vancouver participating and experiencing the Olympics."

The Kings resume play Tuesday at the Stars, and Johnson said Saturday night he was unsure whether he'll go home to L.A. or head straight to Dallas.

"I don't know. We're all up in the air as far as schedules," Johnson told the paper. "Quite frankly, if we win a gold medal I think we'll walk to wherever we have to go."

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