After years of speculation, NHL players will be returning to the Winter Olympic Games.
The NHL, NHLPA, IIHF, and International Olympic Committee announced today that the world's top hockey league will participate in the Olympics for the first time since 2014. The NHL didn't send players back in 2018 when the event was in South Korea, so the return to China is a welcome news break.
The tournament is expected to take place from Feb. 9-20. Initial rosters have to be submitted by Oct. 15, 2021, with the official rosters being announced in Jan. 2022.
The league will shut down for three weeks, as they typically have during the Olympics. That was a talking point leading into the 2018 edition, as the NHL would lose out on revenues by participating in a tournament run by different organizations on the other side of the world outside of the league's main time zones.
As part of the deal, the NHL and NHLPA can still back out if the COVID-19 situation worsens to the point where it is not safe for the players to travel, or if cancellations arise during the regular season due to COVID-19 related issues. Players have the right to decline to go to the Olympics without any consequence.
Another major point: there will not be insurance for any COVID-related illnesses. According to a memo sent out to players, the IOC and the IIHF refused to pay for the cost and instead put the risk on the players. The IIHF has created a $5-million fund to cover lost salaries due to COVID-19 if players contracted the disease while at the Olympic Games. Players will not be paid for missing games due to COVID-19 after Beijing.
The Olympic groupings are as followed: