NHL and NHLPA announce agreement with IIHF

The NHL and NHLPA have reached an agreement with the IIHF on the participation of NHL Players at the 2022 Winter Olympics.

NHL and NHLPA announce agreement with IIHF

NEW YORK/TORONTO (Sept. 3, 2021) The National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) and the National Hockey League (NHL) announced today that they have concluded an Agreement with the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) that confirms a break in the 2021-22 NHL Regular Season Schedule, subject to terms of the Agreement, in order to accommodate the participation of NHL Players in the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. The Agreement allows for the possibility of a later decision to withdraw in the event evolving COVID-19 conditions are deemed by the NHL/NHLPA to render participation by NHL Players to be impractical or unsafe.

They’re back: NHL players to participate in 2022 Olympic Games

IIHF Media Release 

The National Hockey League (NHL), National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA), and the IIHF have reached a joint agreement confirming NHL player participation in the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games.

The agreement comes following months of negotiations between the three organizations to ensure a safer and secure participation for all NHL players competing at the Games.

“I know that I can speak for hockey fans around the world when I say that we absolutely welcome the decision to bring back best-on-best ice hockey to the Olympics,” said IIHF President René Fasel. “We had many constructive discussions, and a lot of hard work was put into making this happen within the time we set out for ourselves, and I want to thank all parties involved for their support and commitment.”

This will be the sixth Winter Olympic men’s hockey tournament that includes NHL players, beginning with the 1998 Nagano Games. NHL players did not participate in the last Olympic Games in PyeongChang in 2018, when the Olympic Athletes from Russia team defeated Germany, 4-3 in overtime -- the golden goal coming from Kirill Kaprizov, who made his NHL debut with the Minnesota Wild last season and is a candidate for the men’s ROC team.

“We understand how passionately NHL Players feel about representing and competing for their countries,” said Bill Daly, deputy commissioner for the NHL. “We are very pleased that we were able to conclude arrangements that will allow them to resume best on best competition on the Olympic stage.“

"Representing their country in the Olympics is important to the players, even in these uncertain times," said Don Zavelo, NHLPA General Counsel. "The players look forward to pulling on their nation's hockey sweater at the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing as they compete for the gold medal."

The agreement also means the potential Olympic debuts for some of the world’s top NHL players such as Connor McDavid (Canada), David Pastrnak (Czech Republic), Sebastian Aho (Finland), Nikita Kucherov (ROC), Victor Hedman (Sweden), Leon Draisaitl (Germany), and Auston Matthews (USA), among many other potential national team candidates.

The tournament will include 12 countries seeded into three groups. Joining the top eight nations that were seeded into the tournament according to the 2019 IIHF World Ranking Canada, ROC, Finland, Sweden, Czech Republic, USA, Germany, and Switzerland will be tournament hosts China as well as the recently qualified teams from Slovakia, Latvia and Denmark, who earned the final seeds last weekend in the Final Men’s Olympic Qualification tournaments.

This agreement also provides the NHL and NHLPA with flexibility to monitor the COVID-19 situation and, ultimately to not send NHL players if the COVID conditions require such.

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The game schedule for the tournament is currently being developed and will be released in the coming weeks.