I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: No way the NHL is sending players to the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
Even though the league is steadfast at holding up their end of the bargain to send the players to the Winter Olympics because they were the ones that pushed for it so hard, it seems as each day passes, the concerns grow for the players actually heading to China. And we can now add Marc-André Fleury to the growing list of current NHL players who have expressed their concerns.
Talking today after morning skate, the Blackhawks goaltender, who may or may not end up being selected for Team Canada, said the thought of being stuck in China for possibly five weeks is “something you have to take into consideration.”
— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) December 13, 2021
Fleury has been playing much better in recent weeks for Chicago. Playing more like the goaltender the Blackhawks thought they were getting when they acquired him prior to the season. With the depth chart being what it is for Canada in net, Fleury, even at 37-years-old, seems like a reasonable candidate to be selected to the squad. He was with the Gold Medal Canadian team in 2010 for the Vancouver Olympics, but did not play in any of the games. Representing Canada, Fleury has earned two Silver Medals in his international career, but both came at the World Junior Championships in 2003 and 2004.
On Saturday, we learned a bit more about what the NHL players heading to China would face when it comes to COVID protocols, including a possible five-week quarantine if a player were to test positive.
This would obviously be problematic for NHL players who aren't required to be paid by their teams should they miss time on the other side of the Olympics. A call involving IOC/IIHF/NHL/NHLPA medical personnel is expected soon to review these matters.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) December 11, 2021
With the potential to lose five weeks of pay, and be stuck in China by yourself past the NHL Trade Deadline, any player heading to the Olympics has a very difficult “worst case scenario” to face. Again, while the league wholeheartedly does not want the players going to the Games, they will let them go if they choose to.
Bettman: "a number of players are expressing concerns" about the Beijing Olympics and quarantine issues, but says NHL will go if players want to go.
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) December 10, 2021
My guess is that the league is going to wait-out the players, and COVID, and will eventually make a formal move to pull participation before the New Year. The league has until January 10 to pull players from participating without facing a financial penalty.