It’s been a long and winding road, but the NHL will once again be sending players and coaches to the Winter Olympics for the 2022 Beijing Games in February. You can find the full memo that was sent to NHL players today here:
Players are going to the Olympics. Memo was sent to NHL players… pic.twitter.com/OGqVsEKK1O
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) September 3, 2021
The NHL did not participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, instead allowing only players who were not on NHL contracts to participate. Needless to say, the men’s tournament was considerably less-interesting without the best players in the world participating.
But they are back for the 2022 Winter Olympics, for now…
Official announcement coming shortly, but NHL/NHLPA have the ability to withdraw if circumstances change for the worse. Also, if NHL games are cancelled during the season due to outbreaks and there is not room to reschedule, league has option to cancel participation. https://t.co/Bd1AZ51Zla
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) September 3, 2021
With the NHL COVID-19 protocols for the upcoming season being released yesterday, the goal for the league is to have the 2021-22 season go off without a hitch and avoid missing games or having to re-jumble another schedule after an already long process full of jumbling over the past nearly two years.
One of the sticking points for having players participate, and what led to them not being involved in the 2018 Games, was having insurance for the players and the league from the IIHF and IOC. While it took a lot of back and forth between the NHL, NHLPA, IIHF and IOC this time around, they were able to reach an agreement to make it work for both sides. But because it is still a problem across the globe, COVID-related illnesses for players will not be protected and as stated above by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, if things get worse in China with regards to COVID ahead of the Winter Games in February, the NHL can still opt-out of participating. According to ESPN’s Emily Kaplan, the deadline for the NHL to back-out of the 2022 Winter Olympics would be in January.
Canada has won the Gold Medal the last two times the NHL has participated in the Winter Olympics, topping the U.S. in dramatic fashion in 2010, and then defeating Sweden in 2014.