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Update: NHL Players No-Go for 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics

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NHL Olympics, Team Canada, Sidney Crosby

It’s official. What we all essentially knew but waited for official word is now a fact as the NHL players are officially out of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

That means Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby will not lead Team Canada. In the final act of a star-crossed year, former Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury will not get to take the pipes for Team Canada, nor will Evgeni Malkin get the chance to represent Team Russia.

The Penguins had several potential candidates for Team USA, including Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust. Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan was the Team USA head coach, and former Penguins AGM Bill Guerin was recently named the general manager for Team USA.

UPDATE: ESPN first reported the decision on Tuesday afternoon, and the Associated Press confirmed the report near 6 p.m. EST Tuesday. The NHL PR released the following statement Wednesday morning at 10 a.m.

The last Olympics in which NHL players participated was in 2014. The league did not allow players to play in 2018 when the games were held in South Korea, meaning players will have to wait 12 years between appearances in 2026.

The NHL began its holiday break several days early because of the spike in COVID cases. The Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New Jersey Devils game on Tuesday was postponed, and the early holiday break postponed the Penguins vs. Philadelphia Flyers game Thursday night at PPG Paints Arena.

Numerous NHL teams have been paused for a week or more because of excessive COVID positive results, including the Calgary Flames, which had absences that numbered in the teens. The NHL used the Flames situation to learn more about the omicron COVID variant and concluded that omicron, unlike the previous COVID strains, could be spread among players on the ice.

The NHL will likely make up many of the postponed games during the scheduled three-week February hole in the NHL schedule created to accommodate players in the Olympics. The break is from Feb. 6 through 22. The NHL All-Star game is still scheduled for Feb. 5 in Las Vegas.

As part of the new CBA negotiated on the back of the 2020 bubble playoffs, the NHL promised a best effort to allow NHL players to participate in the 2022 and 2026 Olympics. However, as PHN noted on Tuesday, in 2026, it is unlikely many of the great players, including Malkin, Fleury, Alex Ovechkin, and Patrice Bergeron, will participate.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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Iwasiam
1 month ago

Damit…I wonder if it’s because the Olympics games are in China or is it they might get COVID and not be able to play in the NHL. My as well boycott the Olympics now, why would anyone go.

I am OK with this
I am OK with this
1 month ago

Never mind the COVID spike, why any athlete in their right mind would head to a country where they could be “quarantined” for five weeks or more, and possibly face a Beatles in Manila situation is beyond me. We need a full 1980 boycott, none of this “diplomatic” crap.

For China though, it’s damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead. This will get interesting.

Uros
Uros
1 month ago

The Tokyo games were sad. There were a lot of Japanese protesting against them from before they started right up to the sad finish. Do I remember anything from those games although I watched them? Apart from the protests, no. Do I like the idea of having the winter games a few months after? No. Do I like this way of playing the league? No. But who cares what I like? The show must go on. The only thing we haven’t decided yet is how do we approach this thing. Do we treat it like a danger to humanity or… Read more »

Iwasiam
1 month ago
Reply to  Uros

Can’t remember her name but there was that gymnastic girl who was in every commercial leading up to the Olympics then decided to say fu$$ it and not compete… remember her?

Uros
Uros
1 month ago
Reply to  Iwasiam

Yes, vividly. They were saying she cracked under pressure. I don’t know how many medals she won previously, but certainly too many for someone who cracks under pressure.

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