NHL players confirmed to participate in 2022 Olympic Winter Games

It’s official!

NHL players will get the chance to represent their countries in the men’s Olympic hockey tournament at Beijing 2022 after the NHL, NHLPA, and IIHF announced they have finalized an agreement.

It has taken a few steps to get to this point, which started with the NHL and NHLPA ratifying an extension to their Collective Bargaining Agreement in July 2020. That included an amendment which stated that the two sides “commit to participate in the 2022 and 2026 Winter Olympics, subject to negotiation of terms acceptable to each of the NHL, NHLPA, and IIHF (and/or IOC).

“Everybody wants to represent their country, everybody wants to play in the Olympics,” Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat, who played for Canada at the 2018 IIHF World Championship, told NHL.com when the CBA was ratified last summer. “I think that’s a big thing we wanted, not only for ourselves to represent our country, but to grow the game. I think this is great to negotiate that and be able to play in the Olympics coming up. It’s great for hockey, it’s great for the fans, and it’s great for us as players to represent our countries, so we’re excited about it.”

In July 2021, the NHL released its schedule for the 2021-22 season, which included a pause from February 7 to 22 to accommodate NHL player participation in the Olympic tournament. The first men’s hockey games in Beijing will be on February 9 with the gold medal game on February 20.

It should be noted that even with this agreement in place, the NHL and NHLPA still retain full authority to decide not to participate should COVID-19 conditions worsen or pose a threat to the health and safety of players, or for any other reason that may warrant not participating.

READ: Team Canada confirmed as a top qualifier for hockey at Beijing 2022

Here are some fun facts about the history of NHL players competing at the Olympic Games.

When did NHL players first participate in the Olympic Games?

The IOC approved the participation of professional athletes in Olympic competition as of 1988, but it wasn’t until Nagano 1998 that the NHL agreed to allow its players to go to the Winter Games. Since then, more than 700 NHL players have suited up for their countries.

How many Olympic Winter Games have included NHL players?

Starting with Nagano 1998, there were five straight Olympic Winter Games that included NHL player participation. Those first Games were followed by Salt Lake City 2002, Turin 2006, Vancouver 2010, and Sochi 2014.

Why didn’t NHL players participate at PyeongChang 2018?

In 2017, factors such as travel costs, insurance for the players, and marketing rights led to the decision that NHL players would not participate at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games as the NHL, NHLPA, IIHF and IOC could not agree to terms. This meant that Team Canada was represented mainly by players from European professional leagues, some of whom did have NHL experience. Those players won the bronze medal, ensuring Canada would be on the men’s hockey podium for the third straight Games.

READ: Olympic hockey bronze a career highlight for many on Team Canada

What has been Team Canada’s success with NHL players?

After finishing fourth at Nagano 1998, Canada won gold at Salt Lake City 2002 for the country’s first Olympic gold medal in men’s hockey in 50 years. Canada missed the podium at Turin 2006, finishing seventh, but bounced back in a big way at home at Vancouver 2010 where Sidney Crosby scored the Golden Goal. A second straight gold medal followed at Sochi 2014.

Who have been the most successful NHL players for Team Canada?

The NHL player with the most Olympic appearances for Canada is Chris Pronger, who played in the first four tournaments from 1998 to 2010, winning two gold medals. He is one of 15 NHL players to win two Olympic gold medals for Canada.

How many Olympic medals does Team Canada have in men’s hockey?

Canada leads the all-time Olympic medal standings in men’s hockey with 16 medals, which includes nine gold, four silver, and three bronze since the sport debuted at the Antwerp 1920 Olympic Games.

Which countries are playing in the Beijing 2022 men’s hockey tournament?

Canada will be the top seed at Beijing 2022 after being number one in the 2020 IIHF World Rankings. Canada was drawn into Group A with the United States (#6), Germany (#7) and host China (#12).

Group B will include ROC (#2), Czech Republic (#5), Switzerland (#8) and Denmark (#11).  

Group C will include Finland (#3), Sweden (#4), Slovakia (#9) and Latvia (#10).

After a preliminary round robin within the groups, the three group winners and the number two team with the best record will advance to the quarterfinals while the other teams will play a qualification playoff game to get into those quarterfinals.