The NHL has announced that they have concluded an Agreement with the International Ice Hockey Federation that confirms a break in the 2021-22 schedule in order for players to participate in the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. As per the agreement, the NHL and the players could withdraw if Covid conditions worsen and the league or those selected to participate find it too dangerous to attend.
For the sixth time in the history of the league, NHL players will be allowed to take part in an Olympics, based on Friday’s announcement. According to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston, the players pushed hard to make sure it happened and with it will come a few contingencies that weren’t part of the first five experiences. They will need to be fully vaccinated, keep tight bubbles while in Beijing, won’t be covered by COVID insurance and likely can’t bring guests.
As Johnston writes, “In other words: They really, really, really wanted to go.”
Maintaining that the NHL does believe this isn’t necessarily the best games for the players to attend, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said, “We understand how passionately NHL players feel about representing and competing for their countries.” He added, “We are very pleased that we were able to conclude arrangements that will allow them to resume best on best competition on the Olympic stage.” He noted that the league negotiated with the players in good faith last NHLPA last summer and wasn’t about to back out of their promise.
IIHF president Rene Fasel said:
“I know that I can speak for hockey fans around the world when I say that we absolutely welcome the decision to bring back best-on-best ice hockey to the Olympics. We had many constructive discussions, and a lot of hard work was put into making this happen within the time we set for ourselves, and I want to thank all parties involved for their support and commitment.”
This Will Be An Exciting Time For NHL Fans
If this goes down without a hitch, this is going to be a first for a lot of the NHL’s top players. Making their Olympic debuts in Beijing will be names like Connor McDavid (Canada), Nikita Kucherov (Russian Olympic Committee), Victor Hedman (Sweden), Leon Draisaitl (Germany), and Auston Matthews (United States).
Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews may be attending their first Olympics
“Just to be able to represent Canada at the Olympics and compete for a gold medal would be an absolute dream come true,” McDavid told The Associated Press this week.