Hockey fans everywhere have had reactions to their desire to see the return of National Hockey League athletes to the Olympics, where Team Canada would be looking to defend their two straight gold medal wins as the world gathers for the Beijing games this February, denied thanks to significant COVID-19 outbreaks. The NHL officially pulled out of the games on December 2 while dozens have games have been postponed.
And for any player who was thinking of risking their NHL contract to participate with his home country in Beijing, the final nail has been put in the coffin of that notion.
The IIHF has officially declared that it will not accept participation from any NHL player, releasing the following statement:
“The cooperation between the IIHF, NHL, NHLPA and the IOC is vital to the continued success and development of ice hockey globally,” said IIHF president Luc Tardif in a news release.
“Any action taken by any stakeholder which jeopardizes this cooperation will not be tolerated. Therefore, as it has been determined last month by the NHL Players’ Association and the NHL not to participate in Beijing, the IIHF will not assent to NHL players participating in the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in direct breach of their current playing contract with their NHL club. Respecting player contracts is a fundamental principle of the IIHF International Transfer Regulations.”
The top NHL players will now have to wait until at least 2026 to participate in the Olympic Games.