The NHL and the NHLPA announced on Friday that NHL players will be allowed to participate in the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics to be held in Beijing, China in February. The formal memo was sent to players Friday morning.
Players are going to the Olympics. Memo was sent to NHL players… pic.twitter.com/OGqVsEKK1O
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) September 3, 2021
The news was also posted on the official Olympics website on Friday morning.
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.”
The preliminary games of the tournament are slated to begin on February 3 with the gold medal game scheduled for February 20. The schedule of games will be released at a later date, but the last NHL event before the Olympic tournament will be the 2022 All-Star Game in Las Vegas on February 5. Players will then fly from there to Beijing.
Slovakia will meet Finland, Sweden and Latvia in Group C. Group A will include Canada, USA, Germany and China and Group B will include Russia, the Czech Republic, Switzerland and Denmark. The composition of the groups was determined on the basis of the IIHF rating.
— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) September 3, 2021
Each team will play three games in the group stage, facing each team in their group once. When the preliminary round is finished, every team will be re-ranked from 1-12 for the medal round. The top finishers in each group and the second-ranked team with the best record will get a bye to the quarterfinals, while the other eight teams will play a qualification-round game.
Russian media outlet Sports.ru reported on August 25 that Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov will not be allowed to participate in the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics in February. Kuznetsov was originally banned in 2019 for four years by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) for testing positive for cocaine.
The Russian Ice Hockey Federation (RIHF) recently inquired about a possible early reinstatement in order to allow Kuznetsov to play in the Olympics. However, it appears all avenues for appeals have fallen short.
According to Elliotte Friedman, the “NHL/NHLPA have the ability to withdraw if circumstances change for the worse. Also, if NHL games are cancelled during the season due to outbreaks and there is not room to reschedule, league has option to cancel participation.”
By Jon Sorensen