Bad (but predictable) news, everybody. Amid multiple media reports, the National Hockey League and the players’ association have made it official: NHL players will not be taking part in the Winter Olympics men’s hockey tournament in Beijing, China in February.
Here’s the text from the release:
With the National Hockey League’s regular-season schedule having been materially disrupted as a result of increasing COVID cases and a rising number of postponed games, the National Hockey League announced today that NHL Players will not participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
“The National Hockey League respects and admires the desire of NHL Players to represent their countries and participate in a ‘best on best’ tournament. Accordingly, we have waited as long as possible to make this decision while exploring every available option to enable our Players to participate in the 2022 Winter Olympic Games,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “Unfortunately, given the profound disruption to the NHL’s regular-season schedule caused by recent COVID-related events — 50 games already have been postponed through Dec. 23 — Olympic participation is no longer feasible. We certainly acknowledge and appreciate the efforts made by the International Olympic Committee, the International Ice Hockey Federation and the Beijing Organizing Committee to host NHL Players but current circumstances have made it impossible for us to proceed despite everyone’s best efforts. We look forward to Olympic participation in 2026.
“Our focus and goal have been and must remain to responsibly and safely complete the entirety of the NHL regular season and Stanley Cup Playoffs in a timely manner. Therefore, with stringent health protocols once again in place, we will begin utilizing available dates during the Feb. 6-22 window (originally contemplated to accommodate Olympic participation) to reschedule games that have been, or may yet be, postponed.”
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The league cited the “material disruption” to the NHL schedule as the trigger to exit the Olympic agreement. Postponed games will be rescheduled into the Feb. 6-22 window – indicating that the All-Star Game in Vegas remains on the schedule.
The Calgary Flames have, to date, had six games postponed due to an ongoing COVID outbreak on the hockey club.
It’s a bittersweet end to the 2022 Olympic saga, particularly in a year where several Flames players were either locks or strong contenders to represent their countries in the event. Among the locks were Swedish goaltender Jacob Markström, American forwards Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk, and Slovakian forward Adam Ruzicka. Another half-dozen Flames, if not more, had legitimate shots to find themselves in Beijing in February.
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