Agreement found between league, players union, IOC and IIHF. The pros are back on the ice in five circles after missing the PyeongChang 2018 edition
The Nhl players will return to play the Olympics. The league, the union that represents the athletes, the IOC and the IIHF (the international federation), in these hours – after months of negotiations – have reached an agreement thanks to which the pros, after having skipped the edition of PyeongChang 2018 , will be on the five-circle ice of Beijing 2022.
From Nagano 1998
Although the collective agreement signed last summer provided for participation, the Covid-19 pandemic and the consequent problems (including economic ones), had strongly questioned the presence. But at this point the agreement will not be respected only if the situation worsens again. Otherwise the NHL, starting from the Nagano 1998 debut, will be Olympic for the sixth time in the last seven occasions. “The chance to represent my country, Canada, at the Games – says Connor McDavid, MVP of the last championship – and to fight for gold would turn a dream into reality”. For him, as for stars like the American Auston Matthews, best player of the 2020 playoffs or the Swedish Victor Hedman, two times winner of the Stanley Cup, never in action on Olympic tracks, the doors open to the largest world event. Like big names like David Pastrnak, Nikita Kucherov, Sebastian Aho or Leon Draisaitl.
The dates have already been defined: the expanded rosters of the twelve participants will be announced by October 15th, the definitive ones in January. The Nhl aces will play the All-Star weekend in Las Vegas on February 4-5 and on February 6 they will fly to China, with the first matches scheduled for the 9. The latest recent qualifying tournaments have defined the composition of the groups (three of four teams): Canada, United States, Germany and China in group A, Russia, Czech Republic, Switzerland and Denmark in group B and Finland, Sweden, Slovakia and Latvia in group D. Leading Canada will be Jon Cooper, head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning, winners of the Stanley Cup 2020 and 2021 with gm Doug Armstrong of the St. Louis Blues, while the United States will be coached by Mike Sullivan of the Pittsburgh Penguins with Stan Bowman of the Chicago Blackhawks in charge of management.
And for international ice hockey it is already a great success: at PyeongChang 2018, representatives of the team of “Russian Olympic athletes” apart from then champions (on the surprising Germany in extra time) were seen in action mainly players of European or North American university championships. “It was not easy – declared the Swiss Rene Fasel, president of the IIHF who will end his mandate on Saturday 25th after 17 years – but now I am overjoyed. Had we not been able to find an agreement, we would have slipped to Milan-Cortina 2026, twelve years after the last time. It would have meant denying an entire generation of players the chance to have an Olympic experience ”.
Italy at the stake
Of course, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy Bill Daly are also delighted. And regret is growing for the elimination of Italy, who came to play for the place in the pre-Olympic at the end of August in Riga, Latvia, but lost in all three games played. In the five participations of pro players, the titles went to Canada, three times (in Salt Lake City 2002, in Vancouver 2010 and in Sochi 2014), to the Czech Republic (in Nagano 1998) and to Sweden (in Turin 2006).
September 3, 2021 (change September 3, 2021 | 20:18)
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