NHL Players Won’t Play at 2022 Beijing Olympics

Andrei Zubarev (left) and Ilya Kovalchuk
Andrei Zubarev (left) and Ilya Kovalchuk celebrate the third goal of OAR during the Men's Ice Hockey play-offs game between Czech and AOR. Photo by Vesa Moilanen/REX/Shutterstock (9435977j)

It will be another Winter Olympic Games without the best hockey players in the world. According to multiple reports, NHL players won’t be part of the 2022 Beijing Olympics following an agreement between the league and players’ association.

Reportedly, NHL and NHLPA made this decision due to COVID-19 outbreaks that hit the league hard in recent weeks and caused 50 games to be postponed. The official announcement is expected in the following days.

The two sides previously made Olympic participation a part of the new collective bargaining agreement. The NHL agreed to allow players to participate at Winter Olympic Games in 2022 and 2026 but also kept an option to backtrack on the agreement if the 2021-22 season gets impacted by the ongoing pandemic.

Considering the number of postponed games, there is a big chance that NHL will use the planned Olympics break to catch up. Reportedly, the league also might use the slot for games that were scheduled for later in the season.

The participating countries at the 2022 Beijing Olympics, which are scheduled to take place between 5th and 20th February, will now have to turn to other leagues in order to fill out their rosters. The majority of the players are expected to come from North American minor leagues and major European leagues like Sweden’s SHL and Russia’s KHL. This was the case at 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, when NHL players were also not present.