With 50 video games already postponed, there was a concern the NHL can be unable to finish a full 82-game season whereas additionally taking a break of greater than two weeks in February for the Olympics. The NHL’s backside line is at stake with the league and gamers drawing no direct cash from competing on the Winter Video games.
Whereas the NHL and NHLPA agreed on Olympic participation final yr as a part of a collective bargaining settlement extension, the deal to go to Beijing was contingent on pandemic circumstances not worsening. A cloth interruption of the schedule allowed the league to drag out, and the delta and omicron variants spreading throughout North America not solely prompted video games to be pushed off however made some gamers hesitant about going to China.
Because of this, males’s hockey event on the Olympics will go on with out NHL gamers for the second consecutive time.
“These are alternatives and experiences of a lifetime that you simply don’t get very a lot of as an athlete, and also you may solely get one,” mentioned Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby, who gained Olympic gold with Canada in 2010 and 2014. “It simply may occur to fall in your window and if it doesn’t occur to work out, it’s unlucky.”
Until the Beijing Video games are postponed a yr like Tokyo, a technology of stars together with American Auston Matthews, Canadians Connor McDavid and Nathan MacKinnon, German Leon Draisaitl and Swede Victor Hedman might want to wait till 2026 to play within the Olympic males’s hockey event for the primary time.
“It’s a factor you’ve been trying ahead to for a really very long time,” Hedman mentioned. “For us to not have the ability to go, it’s going to harm for some time.”
The NHL was full go on the Olympics till the delta and omicron coronavirus variants started spreading round North America earlier this month and prompted a rash of postponements. Earlier than Calgary’s outbreak within the first half of December, solely 5 video games wanted to be rescheduled and one was already made up.
Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, the probably U.S. Olympic starter, expressed displeasure Tuesday with the choice to not go and known as the rash of postponements overkill.
The NHL didn’t take part within the Olympics till 1998, which began a string of 5 in a row via Sochi in 2014. The season was not stopped in 2018, leaving principally professionals enjoying in Europe and a few faculty gamers to make up the rosters in South Korea.
Russia, which gained gold on the Pyeongchang Video games, instantly turns into the favourite with out the NHL because of an inflow of homegrown expertise enjoying within the Kontintental Hockey League.