The NHL and its players’ union have agreed not to send players to the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February, according to multiple reports on Tuesday, the latest dominoes to decline in the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in North America. A formal announcement was expected soon.
The league faced a January 10 deadline to withdraw without financial penalties.
Fifty games in the NHL have been postponed due to the outbreak, including the three Duck game and Two Kings competitions this week. More than 15% of the league’s more than 700 players have been placed in COVID-19 protocols, according to data compiled by the Associated Press.
Ducks goaltender John Gibson and Kings defenseman Drew Doughty were among those expected to be named to the United States and Canadian Olympic teams ahead of the Games beginning in February. There has been no talk of postponing the Games. ,
The Ducks have no players in NHL protocol. Doughty is one of the four kings on the list.
The NHL will attempt to reschedule as many games as possible during the three-week window in February. Arena availability may prove difficult, with NBA games and concerts already scheduled. It is believed that the All-Star Weekend, scheduled for February 4-5 in Las Vegas, will be held as scheduled.
NHL players competed at the Olympics for the first time in 1998 in Nagano, Japan, and for each subsequent Games until the league decided to send its players to Pyeongchang, South Korea in 2018. Doughty, duck center Ryan Getzlaff and Team Canada won. Gold medal in 2010 in Vancouver, British Columbia and in 2014 in Sochi, Russia.
Instead the Beijing Olympic rosters will be filled by players from the AHL, ECHL, NCAA and European professional teams. In 2018, Troy Terry, then a standout at the University of Denver, played for the United States before signing an entry-level contract with the Ducks on March 27, 2018.
Russia won the gold medal in 2018 in Vancouver, Canada in ’10 and in Sochi in ’14, ending a run of successive victories. Doughty and Getzlaff, together with Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins, won gold medals in each of the last two games that NHL players had participated in.
“I know from experience how special and unique the Olympics are,” Crosby told The Athletic on Tuesday, and am thinking not only of my own experience, but of the people who deserve to be a part of it. Didn’t get the opportunity.” “And knowing what they could potentially miss. Yeah, I think the best way to describe it would be just ‘disappointing.'”
Some players have expressed doubts about traveling to Beijing, citing China’s reported protocol that would require Olympic athletes to quarantine in the country for five weeks after testing positive for COVID-19. Conor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers said he found the stringent protocol “disturbing”.
Vegas Golden Knights standout goalkeeper Robin Lehner told reporters last week that he would decline an invitation to play for his native Sweden in Beijing. Lehner said: “For health reasons, my psychiatrist and I decided not to leave, and I wish them all the best.”
However, Kyle Connor of the Winnipeg Jets, who was likely to play for the US in Beijing, said, “Yeah, it sucks. I guess everyone was waiting for it. We have made it a big part of our collective bargaining agreement as players to bring the Olympics back. Whether it was about the different circumstances about going to China with COVID and everything, I think it would have been a great tournament. ,
Other international tournaments were expected to be held as per schedule with full participation.
The world’s top women players, including the US and Canada, are expected to play in Beijing. However, a pre-Olympic exhibition on Monday in St. Paul, Minnesota among gold-medal favorites was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. It was part of the My Why Tour of Exhibitions.
Hockey Canada announced that it will not send a team of non-NHL players to play in the Spengler Cup in Switzerland later this month, a tournament that also includes top European teams. According to reports, Canada’s Spengler Cup team may make its own Beijing Olympic team.
The World Junior Championships, featuring top prospects from the Ducks and Kings for the US and Canada, will begin on Sunday as scheduled in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alberta. The Ducks’ Trevor Zegrass leads Team USA to a gold medal over Canada at the 2021 World Juniors.