NHL players will return to the Winter Olympics in 2022.
The NHL, NHL Players’ Association, International Olympic Committee, and International Ice Hockey Federation officially agreed to terms Friday. NHL players will participate for the first time since 2014.
The NHL did not send players to the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics after participating in five straight Olympics from 1998-2014.
“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,” IIHF President René Fasel said in a release. “We had many constructive discussions, and a lot of hard work was put into making this happen within the time we set out for ourselves, and I want to thank all parties involved for their support and commitment.”
The main reason NHL teams were not interested in sending their players to the Olympics was the two-and-a-half-week interruption in the NHL regular season in the month of February. The financial issues behind this concern — $15-20 million for player insurance, transportation costs, and accommodation — appear to be resolved by the IOC.
What Does This Mean for NHL Schedule?
The 2022 Beijing Olympics will start Feb. 9 and run through Feb. 20, 2022. NHL players will travel from North America to China on Feb. 6. National teams will submit a “long list” of players by Oct. 15, and provisional playing rosters will be announced by January 2022, according to an NHLPA memo.
The agreement does contain an opt-out clause for the NHL and NHLPA should COVID-19 conditions worsen. They can also withdraw if the 2021-22 NHL schedule is disrupted by cancelations, and the NHL believes it needs to use the Olympic break to make up games.
The NHL submitted two different schedules to teams in June, one with and one without a break for the Olympics. The one with an Olympic break was not shared with the public. The NHL is scheduled to break from games from Feb. 3 to Feb. 22.
Recent NHL Participation in Olympics
Canada won Olympic gold three times (2002 Salt Lake City, 2010 Vancouver, 2014 Sochi) with NHL players in action. Sweden won at 2006 Torino, and the Czech Republic at 1998 Nagano. The Olympic Athletes from Russia won at 2018 PyeongChang.
Four Chicago Blackhawks players have won Olympic gold since 2010 with Canada. Duncan Keith (2010, 2014) and Jonathan Toews (2010, 2014) each won two golds, while Brent Seabrook (2010) and Patrick Sharp (2014) have one.
Russian Olympic Committee (2)
Czech Republic (5)
*IIHF rankings included