Barring complications from COVID-19, the NHL plans to send players to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
The league and the players association on Friday announced an agreement with the International Hockey Federation to participate in the Olympics for the first time since 2014 in Sochi. The agreement allows for a withdrawal if the NHL and players association believe COVID-19 conditions make participation unsafe.
“We understand how passionately NHL players feel about representing and competing for their countries,” said Bill Daly, the NHL’s deputy commissioner. “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.”
The NHL season will be stopped from Feb. 3 to 22 to accommodate the All-Star Game in Las Vegas and the Olympics, which end with the gold-medal game Feb. 20.
Defenseman Ivan Provorov is among the Flyers expected to participate in the Olympics. The defenseman is a lock to make Russia’s team, and Flyers center Sean Couturier has a strong chance to play for Team Canada, the tournament favorite.
Among other Flyers who are Olympic candidates: Cam Atkinson, Kevin Hayes, James van Riemsdyk, and Joel Farabee, USA; Claude Giroux and Carter Hart, Canada; Oskar Lindblom, Sweden; and Rasmus Ristolainen, Finland.
The Olympic rosters are expected to be announced by January. Twelve countries will participate in men’s hockey: Canada, the United States, Germany, and China in Group 4; Russia, Czech Republic, Switzerland, and Denmark in Group B; and Finland, Sweden, Slovakia, and Latvia in Group C.
“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,” IIHF president Rene Fasel said. “We had many constructive discussions, and a lot of hard work was put into making this happen within the time we set for ourselves, and I want to thank all parties involved for their support and commitment.”
After having NHL players compete between 1998 and 2014, the 2018 Pyeongchang Games saw the competing nations send teams composed of professionals playing outside the NHL (either abroad or in the minors), ex-pros, and amateur/collegiate players, with the Olympic Athletes of Russia winning gold, Germany silver, and Canada taking home bronze.