NHL players to compete in Beijing 2022 Olympics

The NHL is back at the Olympics.

The League and the NHL Players Association (NHLPA) announced on Friday that they have reached an agreement with the International Ice Hockey Federation (FIHG) to pause the 2021-22 NHL regular season to enable the participation of NHL players in the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games.

This will be the first participation for NHL players since the 2014 Sochi Olympics, and it will be the first international tournament bringing together the best players on the planet since the 2016 World Cup of Hockey in Toronto.

“We understand the passion that drives players to represent their country,” said NHL Assistant Commissioner Bill Daly. “We are very happy to have reached an agreement that will allow the best players on the planet to compete against each other on the Olympic stage. « 

Under the agreement, it would be possible for the League to withdraw from the event if the NHL and NHLPA deem that the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic makes the participation of players unsafe.

“It is important for players to represent their country at the Olympics, even in these uncertain times,” said NHLPA general counsel Don Zavelo. “Players are eager to don their nation’s jersey at the 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games, as they compete for the gold medal. « 

The 2021-22 NHL season will be put on hold between February 3 and 22 to allow for the 2022 Honda NHL All-Star Game weekend at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and the men’s Olympic tournament. , whose final will be played on February 20.

“I know that I can speak on behalf of all hockey fans in the world by saying that we are very happy with the decision to bring the best players on the planet back to the Olympics,” said FIHG President René Fasel. “We had several constructive discussions, and it took hard work to get there within the timeline we set for ourselves. I want to thank all parties involved for their support and commitment. « 

The NHL competed in five Olympic Games between 1998 and 2014, but decided not to take part in the Pyeongchang Games in 2018. The League’s position is that participation in the Olympics disrupted the conduct of the NHL season, in especially when the event was not held in North America.

But last year, the NHL and the NHLPA extended the collective agreement until 2025-26, and they agreed to participate in the Olympics if an agreement was reached with the FIHG.

« You know what the league’s traditional and historic stance has been on the Olympics, » Daly said on June 28. “We remain of the same opinion, and in fact, with the future Games in Beijing, the lingering uncertainty with the [COVID-19] and the Games that are on the other side of the planet, (they are not) necessarily the ideal Games to choose from.

“That being said, we negotiated in good faith with the Players’ Association last summer. We agreed that if the conditions were right, and we came to an understanding on all material issues, we would commit to and support participation in the Olympics. « 

The Czech Republic won gold in 1998 in Nagano, the first Olympic Games in which NHL players participated.

Since then, it has been a domination of Canada, which has won five of the last six tournaments where the best players in the world were gathered: the 2004 and 2016 World Cup of Hockey, the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, the Olympic Games. of 2010 in Vancouver as well as those of 2014 in Sochi. Canada have won their last 16 matches in these competitions.

Sweden won gold in Turin in 2006.

The United States won the silver medal in Salt Lake City and Vancouver.

Some of the best players in the world could make their Olympic debuts in Beijing, including Connor mcdavid (Canada), David Pastrnak (Czech Republic), Sebastian aho (Finland), Nikita Kucherov (Russian Olympic Committee), Victor hedman (Sweden), Leon draisaitl (Germany) and Auston matthews (United States).

The tournament will feature 12 countries separated into three groups. Tournament host country China, along with Slovakia, Latvia and Denmark, which qualified for the tournament last weekend, will join the eight countries already qualified for the tournament under the 2019 World Rankings of the FIHG – Canada, the Russian Olympic Committee, Finland, Sweden, the Czech Republic, the United States, Germany and Switzerland.

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