NHL To Send Players To Olympics For First Time Since 2014

By Jacob Nitzberg on September 3, 2021 at 11:01 am
Mar 18, 2021; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski (8) skates with the puck past Carolina Hurricanes left wing Warren Foegele (13) at PNC Arena.
James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Here's some good news for your Friday.

Today, the IIHF announced a joint agreement has been reached between the IIHF, NHLPA, and NHL that will allow players to represent their countries in the 2022 Winter Olympics. Kings reporter John Hoven obtained a memo sent to players that spells out the rules for participating.

The NHL did not allow players to participate in the 2018 Games, so this will be the first time since 2014 that we'll see NHL players in the Olympics. The Olympics will take place from February 4th to February 20th, which is right in the middle of the NHL season. With that in mind, the regular season will wrap up later than is typical (but not as late as last season). 

The Blue Jackets who could represent their country in Beijing include Zach Werenski (USA), Patrik Laine (Finland), Joonas Korpisalo (Finland), Mikko Lehtonen (Finland), Elvis Merzlikins (Latvia), Oliver Bjorkstrand (Denmark), Gustav Nyquist (Sweden), Dean Kukan (Switzerland), Gregory Hofmann (Switzerland), Jakub Voracek (Czech Republic), Vladislav Gavrikov (Russia), and Samuel Knazko (Slovakia).

“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.”

In 2014, Canada took the gold, defeating silver medalists Sweden in the final. Finland bested the United States 5-0 in the bronze medal game. Phil Kessel (USA) led all skaters with five goals and eight points, while Carey Price was the best goaltender at the tournament, registering a 0.59 GAA, .972 save percentage, and two shutouts. 44-year-old Teemu Selanne was named the tournament's most valuable player after notching 4-2-6 in six games as Finland won bronze.

“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.“