NHL reportedly takes major step towards decision regarding Winter Olympics

Could NHL players be participating in the Winter Olympics in Beijing?


It looks as though Team Canada may have a chance to defend their gold medal victories from the 2010 Vancouver and 2014 Sochi Olympic Games with NHL players, while Team USA could have the same chance to defend their Silver medal wins (and try to go for gold). 

According to ESPN hockey writer Greg Wyshynski, the NHL is including a break in the 2021-22 schedule for the Winter Olympics in Beijing, though player involvement has not yet been decided. The break is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 5-22, 2022, with the NHL All-Star Game at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas reportedly being the final NHL event prior to the break. 

After skipping the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, the NHL allowed as part of their collective bargaining agreement with the NHL Players' Association last summer to allow the players to return to the Olympics, though there was no guarantee that they'd be able to represent their respective countries. 

Per Wyshynski: 

"The league still needs to iron out issues with the International Olympic Committee that the NHL claims prevented the players from going in 2018.

"We negotiated in good faith with the Players' Association last summer," deputy commissioner Bill Daly said last month. "We agreed that if the conditions were right and we could reach an agreement on all the material issues that we would commit and support going to the Olympics. That remains our position."

Before the Stanley Cup Final, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said there were "real concerns about whether or not it's sensible to have our players participating and us shutting down for an Olympic break." Among those concerns: the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and how it might impact the Beijing Games.

"With the continued uncertainty with the virus, with the Games being halfway around the world, it's not necessarily an ideal Games to go to," Daly said.

Sources told ESPN last week that the agreement between the NHL and the IOC was "still be worked on," but the anticipation is that a deal could be struck in late July."

Would you like to see NHL players once again competing on the international stage in the middle of the NHL Season?