The NHL will not send its players to the 2022 Beijing Olympics, the NHL confirmed in a statement Wednesday.
“The National Hockey League respects and admires the desire of NHL Players to represent their countries and participate in a ‘best on best’ tournament. Accordingly, we have waited as long as possible to make this decision while exploring every available option to enable our Players to participate in the 2022 Winter Olympic Games,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “Unfortunately, given the profound disruption to the NHL’s regular-season schedule caused by recent COVID-related events — 50 games already have been postponed through Dec. 23 — Olympic participation is no longer feasible.
“We certainly acknowledge and appreciate the efforts made by the International Olympic Committee, the International Ice Hockey Federation and the Beijing Organizing Committee to host NHL Players but current circumstances have made it impossible for us to proceed despite everyone’s best efforts. We look forward to Olympic participation in 2026.”
The news comes on the heels of the NHL putting countless teams on the shelf due to COVID outbreaks, and with the league shutting down the entire operation through the upcoming holiday break, which runs through Dec. 26.
The news is a definite bummer in Boston, where countless Black and Gold players were set to partake in what would either be their first (or likely final) Olympic showing for their respective countries, and with Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy and general manager Don Sweeney set to serve in support roles for Team Canada.
The 2022 Beijing Olympics also would have marked the first time that the Olympics had featured NHL players since 2014 in Sochi, as the league opted not to pause and send their players to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
The NHL will instead use the time to make up as many postponed contests as they can, according to Bettman.
“Our focus and goal have been and must remain to responsibly and safely complete the entirety of the NHL regular season and Stanley Cup Playoffs in a timely manner,” Bettman said. “Therefore, with stringent health protocols once again in place, we will begin utilizing available dates during the Feb. 6-22 window (originally contemplated to accommodate Olympic participation) to reschedule games that have been, or may yet be, postponed.”
The Bruins have had four games postponed in the last week, including two home games and two road tilts.
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.