As expected, the NHL pulled the plug on participating in the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February, citing the need to reschedule league games that were postponed this month due to the rapid rise in COVID-19 cases in North America. Sparked by Omicron Edition. The league and its players’ union jointly made the announcement Wednesday morning.
Instead of sending the world’s best players to the 2022 Games, the top hockey nations are expected to send teams made up of players from the AHL, ECHL, NCAA and European leagues. Men’s hockey is one of the major events of the Winter Olympics, but is far from the only one.
“Our focus and goal is to responsibly and safely timely complete the entirety of the NHL regular season and the Stanley Cup playoffs,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bateman said in a statement. “Therefore, once again with stringent health protocols in place, we will start using the dates available during February 6-22 (basically to accommodate Olympic participation) to reschedule the Games that have been postponed. has been given, or may yet be postponed.”
The league has postponed 50 games and extended its annual Christmas break to limit the spread of COVID-19. Three Duck games and two Kings games were postponed this week after the league banned cross-border travel on Sunday and then extended the holiday break on Monday.
Duck road games against the Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks, as well as the Kings’ home game against the Oilers and road games against the Vegas Golden Knights, should be made. However, no make-up dates have been announced for any of the postponed games.
Kings fans with tickets to the game against the Oilers will be contacted by the team or their point-of-sale location regarding postponement policies, including further information after the rescheduling of the game.
No decision has been made on an additional NHL postponement, although it could be the next Domino’s to fall. More than 15 percent of the league’s more than 700 players were placed in COVID-19 protocols, unable to practice or play after testing positive within the past two weeks.
According to Bateman, the move to pull out of the Olympics was not taken lightly.
“The National Hockey League respects and admires the willingness of NHL players to represent their countries and participate in ‘best at best’ tournaments,” they said in a statement. “Accordingly, we have waited as long as possible to make this decision, exploring every available option to enable our players to participate in the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.
“Unfortunately, given the profound disruption to the NHL’s regular-season schedule due to recent COVID-related events – 50 games have already been postponed through (Thursday) – Olympic participation is no longer possible. 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 the current circumstances have made it difficult for us to go ahead despite everyone’s best efforts. made impossible. We look forward to participating in the Olympics in 2026.”
The next Winter Olympics will be held in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.
NHL players first competed at the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan. The skipping Beijing Games is the second consecutive Olympics without NHL players, following the league’s withdrawal from the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in dispute over financial and scheduling concerns.
“Since the expansion of the CBA 17 months ago, NHL players are looking forward to participating in the Winter Olympics with great anticipation,” said Don Fehr, executive director of the players’ union. “Recently, we seemed on a clear path to go to Beijing. COVID-19 has unfortunately intervened, leading to the postponement of dozens of games this month alone.
“No matter how much we wish it didn’t happen, we need to use the Olympic period to reschedule these games. Certainly players and hockey fans are quite disappointed. But this year the entire 82- Playing a game season, something that the pandemic has prevented us from doing since the 2018-19 season, is very important. We expect NHL players to return to the Olympics in 2026.”