On Wednesday, The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reported in the NHL’s proposed Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) extension, a return to Olympics participation covering both 2022 in Beijing, China, and 2026 in Milan, Italy, is on the table.
If the NHL/NHLPA finalize things, if the players ratify it, and subject to negotiation with IOC, sounds like proposed CBA extension includes the NHL’s return to Olympic participation covering both 2022 and 2026. Which is 👌
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) July 1, 2020
This is great news for NHL players who wish to partake in the Olympics playing for their country if the league and International Olympic Committee (IOC) approve of the proposal.
In November, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the Olympics were going to be a “challenge” for the league. “I know the players love representing their countries. I know that the players like going. I know that the players that don’t go like having a break in the middle of the season. But from our standpoint, we have found going to the Olympics to be incredibly disruptive to our season.”
The 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, did not see any NHL players due to a dispute with the IOC over the costs sustained by the players and who would cover them. In addition to player protection, the NHL was not crazy about pausing the sport for 2-3 weeks during the regular season. The Olympics occur at a critical point in the season when playoff races begin to heat up in the NHL. Any injury to a club’s star player during the Olympics could have major consequences when NHL play resumes after the Olympics conclude.
In December, Russia was banned for the next four years from the Olympics and global sports the World Anti-Doping Agency announced. Athletes can still play under a neutral flag if they prove they were not affected by the doping scandal. The Russian flag and anthem will not be allowed in the Summer Olympics in Tokyo (postponed for 2021 due to the Coronavirus pandemic) and the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
About his home country’s ban in the world’s biggest sporting event, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin said, “It’s bad. I feel bad for people working so hard for this moment and they can’t be there.”
Ovechkin did play in three Winter Olympics prior to 2018.
By Della Young