NHL not going to Olympics due to COVID-19 surge

The NHL and NHL Gamers’ Affiliation have come to an settlement to not take part within the 2022 Winter Olympic males’s hockey match in Beijing.

“The Nationwide Hockey League respects and admires the will of NHL Gamers to characterize their nations and take part in a ‘greatest on greatest’ match. Accordingly, we now have waited so long as attainable to make this determination whereas exploring each accessible choice to allow our Gamers to take part within the 2022 Winter Olympic Video games,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman stated in an announcement.

“Sadly, given the profound disruption to the NHL’s regular-season schedule brought on by current COVID-related occasions — 50 video games have already got been postponed by means of Dec. 23 — Olympic participation is not possible. We actually acknowledge and recognize the efforts made by the Worldwide Olympic Committee, the Worldwide Ice Hockey Federation and the Beijing Organizing Committee to host NHL Gamers however present circumstances have made it unimaginable for us to proceed regardless of everybody’s greatest efforts. We stay up for Olympic participation in 2026.”

The NHL and NHLPA had negotiated Olympic participation in 2022 and 2026 into the most recent collective bargaining settlement after NHL gamers didn’t take part within the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The one caveat for the Beijing Olympics, scheduled for February 2022, was if the present NHL common season was “materially impacted” by COVID-19 postponements.

The NHL had till Jan. 10 to choose out of Olympic participation with out monetary penalty and the NHLPA stated it anticipated a call on participation to be made earlier than that date.

“We proceed to stay up for the participation of the world’s greatest hockey gamers from the opposite elite ice hockey leagues world wide in Beijing,” the IOC stated in an announcement. “Their performances in Pyeongchang achieved a big worldwide broadcast viewers and demonstrated the thrilling, passionate ice hockey that we are able to anticipate, which, as in 2018, might be adopted by followers from all world wide.”

The Olympic rosters will now be stuffed by a mixture of beginner gamers and professionals taking part in in leagues exterior of the NHL. That would embrace North American minor leagues and abroad skilled leagues like Russia’s KHL. This was the setup for groups within the Pyeongchang Olympics, the place the Olympic Athletes from Russia received gold.

“Though we’re dissatisfied to obtain this determination by the NHL and NHLPA, we however absolutely perceive the circumstances that pressured this motion to be taken,” Worldwide Ice Hockey Federation president Luc Tardif stated in an announcement. “It was a shock to see how COVID-19 affected the NHL schedule nearly in a single day, and we perceive the NHL’s determination is in the very best curiosity of the well being and security of its gamers.”

Consideration will now flip to utilizing the scheduled break for the Olympics — Feb. 6-22 — to reschedule video games. The NHL All-Star Recreation remains to be scheduled for Feb. 5.

“Our focus and objective have been and should stay to responsibly and safely full everything of the NHL common season and Stanley Cup Playoffs in a well timed method. Subsequently, with stringent well being protocols as soon as once more in place, we’ll start using accessible dates throughout the Feb. 6-22 window (initially contemplated to accommodate Olympic participation) to reschedule video games which have been, or could but be, postponed,” Bettman stated in his assertion.

Sources stated that rescheduling may embrace presently postponed video games or probably transferring up video games which might be scheduled for later within the season, however there could possibly be a scarcity of enviornment availability throughout the break. Whereas the NHL requested arenas to not ebook occasions throughout the break in case gamers did not take part within the Olympics, many buildings booked concert events and different occasions, searching for to make up for misplaced income throughout the pandemic.

It is anticipated there’ll nonetheless be some semblance of a break within the schedule. Predators normal supervisor David Poile instructed ESPN 102.5 The Recreation in Nashville that he believed there can be a “compromise” for the period of time gamers could have off, with video games being crammed into the ultimate week of that break. He additionally floated the concept that the common season could possibly be prolonged by per week.

Information of the Olympic determination was met with frustration and unhappiness from gamers who would have performed within the Beijing Video games.

“I have been lucky sufficient to be a part of two [Olympics],” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby stated. “I positively really feel for the the fellows who’ve missed quite a few alternatives. It isn’t one thing the place it is the following yr otherwise you push it a few months. These are experiences of a lifetime that you do not get very a lot of as an athlete.”

Two Winnipeg Jets gamers who appeared headed for Group USA expressed their remorse on Tuesday.

“Yeah, that sucks. I believe everybody was wanting ahead to this,” Kyle Connor stated. “We made it an enormous a part of our collective bargaining settlement because the gamers, to carry the Olympics again. Whether or not it is about totally different circumstances about going to China with COVID and all the pieces, I believe it could have been an amazing match.”

Goalie Connor Hellebuyck, a possible starter for the Individuals, was nervous about his standing for the 2026 Olympics in Italy.

“If the following one’s in 4 years, I will be 32,” he stated. “I do know I will be taking part in my greatest hockey, however it’ll be a distinct story.”

The Related Press contributed to this report.

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