In the wake of the NHL shutting down a few days earlier than expected before the annual Christmas break due to rising COVID-19 cases, the CBC posted an article today that the NHL and the “National Hockey League Players’ Association have reached an agreement to not sent players to participate in the 2022 Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics in February.”
It is important to note that CBC Sports said in their article that they could not “independently confirm the report.”
The story was initially broken by Chris Johnston of The Toronto Star and Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli as per the article by the CBC staff on CBC.ca.
Johnston reported (and it was reported by the CBC) that “the league and its players made the decision on Tuesday and now must finalize it with the International Olympic Committee.”
The CBC said that “Seravalli reported on Twitter the official announcement could come as early as Tuesday or even later in the week.” The CBC article also noted that the NHL “had until Jan. 10 to opt out of the Olympics without financial penalty.”
The NHL announced yesterday that the 2021-22 season would be shut down early prior to the Christmas break – pausing all activities from December 21 through 25 with ten teams needing to shut down due to COVID outbreaks. Fifty games have been postponed this season already with the Devils missing their two games leading into Christmas at Pittsburgh and against Montreal. A game in November against Ottawa was postponed but has already been made up by the teams.
According to Johnston, the NHL’s decision comes from needing to play the rescheduled games during the three-weeks that would have been set aside for the Olympics beginning on February 4.
The CBC article said that ESPN is reporting that the games played during the February break “could include currently postponed games or even moving up future games as a result of the lack of arena availability during the break, with many booking concerts and other events.”
This will be the second straight Olympic Games that NHL players will not participate in. The league declined to send players to PyeongChang in 2018 due to not wanting to break up the regular season right after the Super Bowl when the NHL had some of the North American sports landscape between only itself and the NBA.
The NHL first sent its players to the tournament at Nagano in 1998.
Originally, the NHL and NHLPA committed to the Beijing Olympics this past September. The agreement with the International Ice Hockey Federation gave the sides the chance “to withdraw if COVID-19 conditions rendered participation “impractical or unsafe.””
And with that, an entire generation of players have likely passed through the NHL that will not really get to represent their countries at the Olympics. When you realize that someone like Connor McDavid never got to play for Canada at the Games, that is just mind blowing. He will be four years older in 2026 and could still get his chance should the NHL participate, but he might not be the tippy-top elite player that he is right now in his prime – though still very good, of course.
Time will tell how things shake down for 2026, but as of now, NHL it seems, will not be playing in the 2022 Olympics. We will keep you updated here on any news pertaining to this situation and will have coverage of the 2022 World Junior Championship from Alberta starting the day after Christmas.