After the NHL and NHL Player’s Association came to an agreement last summer to participate at both the 2022 and 2026 Olympics, pending negotiations with the International Olympic Committee and IIHF, today it was announced that NHL players will in fact participate at the 2022 Beijing Olympics, marking their return to the Games after skipping the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.
With the major issues over the payment of insurance now resolved, the NHL is set to pause their season following the 2022 NHL All-Star Game in Las Vegas, to participate in the tournament from 09-20 February. There is an agreement, however, that if the COVID-19 pandemic escalates, that the NHL or NHLPA can still choose to withdraw from the tournament.
The return of NHL players marks a return to true “best on best” competition for the first time since the 2016 World Cup Of Hockey, and means that emerging stars like Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews and Leon Draisaitl can finally make their Olympic debuts. The Russian Olympic Committee are defending Olympic champions, but in the five tournaments that saw NHL participation (1998-2014), Canada captured Gold three times (2002, 2010, 2014), with single wins from Czechia in 1998 and Sweden in 2006.
And following last week’s final Olympic Qualification, groups are now set for Beijing as well. Group A will see hosts China taking on Canada, the United States and Germany; Group B sees the ROC defend their title against Czechia, Switzerland and recently promoted Denmark; and Group C sees border rivals Sweden and Finland welcome in recently qualified squads from Slovakia and Latvia. Now all that is left is to set a schedule and book the tickets for Beijing, which begins in just five short months!