Finally, the question has been answered: NHL players will be allowed to participate in the 2022 Olympic Games in Beijing, the International Ice Hockey Federation announced Friday morning. The decision was made in conjunction with the league and the NHLPA.
The 2022 Winter Olympics will be held from February 9-20, 2022. Per a memo sent to players on Friday, participating national teams will submit a “long list” of players by October 15, with provisional rosters announced by January.
The agreement leaves the option open for the NHL to cancel player participation based on the health & safety situation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic in the coming months, as well as if “regular season games must be cancelled for COVID-related reasons and cannot be rescheduled within the 2021-22 Regular Season schedule (that has an Olympic break).”
Player contracts will be insured by the IIHF and/or their respective federations. However, there is no insurance for COVID-related illnesses - but the IIHF will create a $5 million fund to help cover salaries lost if a player contracts COVID while in Beijing while following strict protocols.
Though protocols are still being finalized, it is anticipated that everyone will be required to be vaccinated. Guests are unlikely to be allowed.
Per the NHL CBA, players can opt out of the NHL season. If they do so, they will not be permitted to participate in the Olympics.
One Buffalo Sabres player we can anticipate heading to Beijing will be forward Zemgus Girgensons. Girgensons played on Team Latvia over the past few weeks in Olympic qualification games, and Latvia performed well enough to earn a place at the Olympics for the first time since 2014. Girgensons was also on that team.
NHL players were not permitted to participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics, when the Olympic Athletes from Russia took gold. Germany won silver, while Canada took bronze.