NHL players are returning to the Olympics in 2022.
The league and players’ union (NHLPA) announced Friday they reached an agreement with the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) confirming a break in the 2021-22 NHL regular season schedule to allow players to participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
But the agreement was made with the continued COVID-19 pandemic in mind.
“The agreement allows for the possibility of a later decision to withdraw in the even evolving Covid conditions are deemed by the NHL/NHLPA to render participation by NHL players to be impractical or unsafe,” reads a statement from the NHL.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Olympic ice hockey tournament in PyeongChang in 2018 was held without participation of NHL players for the first time since the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer. Team Canada and Team USA were most notably without top talent in 2018, hurting Olympics viewership in North America.
NHL players have expressed their displeasure with missing the Olympics, signaling this return in 2022.
“We understand how passionately NHL players feel about representing and competing. for their countries,” reads a statement from NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly. “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.”
The Beijing games are scheduled for February.