ZURICH – For the fifth consecutive time dating back to Nagano 1998, the men’s Olympic ice hockey tournament will be a best-on-best event.
The International Ice Hockey Federation has reached an agreement with the National Hockey League (NHL) and the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) whereby the NHL will take a break in its 2013/2014 schedule and make its players available to the twelve participating IIHF Member National Associations at the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia (February 7 – 23, 2014).
“Although there were many details to discuss with our partners at the NHL and NHLPA, there was never any doubt in my mind that we would continue the tradition from Nagano, Salt Lake City, Turin and Vancouver,” said IIHF President and IOC Executive Committee Member René Fasel.
“The modern Olympic era is about sportive competition on the highest possible level. This is what fans around the world expect from a 100-metre race or downhill skiing and this is also what they are entitled to expect from our sport,” said Fasel.
“It is the obligation of the IIHF towards our fans that the biggest sports show on earth has the best players and towards our member associations that they are able to select the best players that their educational systems have developed. I would like to thank NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA Executive Director Don Fehr for their co-operation.”
Both the men’s and women’s ice hockey schedules were also released today with 203 days left to the first puck drop: the USA vs. Finland game in the women’s tournament on February 8, 2014 at 12:00.
Click here for the schedule and groups of the men’s and women’s ice hockey tournaments.
Twelve teams in three groups will participate in the men’s event (February 12-23), eight in two groups in the women’s (February 8-20).
Ice Hockey is one of only two winter sports whose Olympic history is older than the Winter Olympics. The first Olympic ice hockey tournament was part of the 1920 summer games in Antwerp, Belgium while the Winter Games started in 1924 in Chamonix, France.
IOC President Jacques Rogge said about the agreement between the IIHF, NHL and NHLPA:
“I am very happy with the result of the constructive discussions which will ensure that once again we will see the world’s top ice hockey players competing at the Olympic Games. I would like to thank all parties involved for making this happen ahead of Sochi 2014.”
To enable the selected players to open the men’s tournament on February 12, the NHL will take a break in its schedule after February 8, which will be the final day of the NHL regular-season games before the league’s Olympic break.
The opening games of the men’s ice hockey tournament on February 12 will feature Nagano 1998 champion Czech Republic vs the Turin 2006 winners Sweden at the Bolshoy Ice Dome, while Latvia at the same time will take on 2013 World Championship silver medallist Switzerland at the Shayba Arena.
Defending Olympic men’s champion Canada opens on Thursday, February 13 against Norway while host Russia takes on Slovenia in their first game.
All participating national associations will submit their “long lists” of rosters on October 1, 2013 (both men’s and women’s) while on the men’s side there will be an additional no-later-than December 31, 2013 deadline of submission of provisional 22 skaters and 3 goaltenders playing rosters. The October 1 “long lists” will not be made public.
The final and official playing rosters will be registered at the Olympic tournament directorate meetings, one day before the start of the respective events. On the women’s side the final roster registration will be on February 7, 2014, the men’s registration on February 11, 2014.
As part of the IIHF-NHL-NHLPA agreement, seven NHL referees and six NHL linesmen will be integrated into the IIHF on-ice officials’ crews that will work the men’s tournament.
The Olympic ice hockey tournaments will be played according to the IIHF rulebook on international sized rinks, 60 x 30 metres.
OGOC President Dmitry Chernyshenko:
"We are delighted that a final agreement is in place to ensure some of the world's best ice hockey players from the NHL will be joining us in Sochi for what we are sure will be one of the most exciting competitions at the Games. The athletes will enjoy competing in our world class ice hockey venues, one of them our magnificent "Bolshoy" Ice Dome, which we tested effectively early this year by hosting the IIHF World U18 Championship."
Click here for the explanation of the Olympic playing format for both men’s and women’s tournaments and the qualification process leading up to Sochi 2014.
Click for all men’s and women’s Olympic ice hockey medallists since 1920 and 1998 respectively.