NHL players are back
by Adam Steiss|03 SEP 2021
Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby could return to the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing 2022.
photo: Matthew Manor / HHOF-IIHF Images
They’re back: NHL players to participate in 2022 Olympic Games

The National Hockey League (NHL), National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA), and the IIHF have reached a joint agreement confirming NHL player participation in the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games. 

The agreement comes following months of negotiations between the three organizations to ensure a safer and secure participation for all NHL players competing at the Games. 

“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.”
This will be the sixth Winter Olympic men’s hockey tournament that includes NHL players, beginning with the 1998 Nagano Games. NHL players did not participate in the last Olympic Games in PyeongChang in 2018, when the Olympic Athletes from Russia team defeated Germany, 4-3 in overtime – the golden goal coming from Kirill Kaprizov, who made his NHL debut with the Minnesota Wild last season and is a candidate for the men’s ROC team. 

“We welcome the decision of the NHL, which will allow their players to participate in the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022. All the parties who were involved in coming to this agreement should be commended for this excellent result,” said IOC Sports Director Kit McConnell.

“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.“

"Representing their country in the Olympics is important to the players, even in these uncertain times," said Don Zavelo, NHLPA General Counsel. "The players look forward to pulling on their nation's hockey sweater at the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing as they compete for the gold medal."

The agreement also means the potential Olympic debuts for some of the world’s top NHL players such as Connor McDavid (Canada), David Pastrnak (Czech Republic), Sebastian Aho (Finland), Nikita Kucherov (ROC), Victor Hedman (Sweden), Leon Draisaitl (Germany), and Auston Matthews (USA), among many other potential national team candidates.

The tournament will include 12 countries seeded into three groups. Joining the top-eight nations that were seeded into the tournament according to the 2019 IIHF World Ranking – Canada, ROC, Finland, Sweden, Czech Republic, USA, Germany, and Switzerland – will be tournament hosts China as well as the recently qualified teams from Slovakia, Latvia and Denmark, who earned the final seeds last weekend in the Men’s Final Olympic Qualification tournaments. 
This agreement also provides the NHL and NHLPA with flexibility to monitor the COVID-19 situation and, ultimately to not send NHL players if the COVID conditions require such.

Click here for more information on the 2022 Olympic Winter Games and qualification.

The game schedule for the tournament is currently being developed and will be released in the coming weeks.