NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman both affirmed his promise to the NHL players to go to the 2022 Winter Olympics, but also cast doubt because prolonged negotiations are interfering with finalizng the 2021-22 NHL schedule. As part of the annual joint media conference before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final with deputy commissioner Bill Daly, the pair answered the lingering questions about the 2021-22 season and where the important dates will be held.
Daly also seemingly hinted at worldwide questions over China’s suitability to host the games.
“With the future games in Beijing, and the continued uncertainty over the virus, and the games being halfway around the world, not necesssarily an ideal games to elect to go to,” Daly said. “Having said that–we negotiated in good faith with the players association last summer. We agreed that if the conditions were right, and we could reach agreement on all of the material issues, that we would commit and support going to the Olympics…”
As part of the five-year CBA agreement reached last summer before teams agreed to entre the playoff bubbles, a the league made a good faith promise to let the players participate in the 2022 Olympics if specific details, such as insurance costs, could be worked out.
There are renewed questions over the specific origins of COVID-19 which began in Wuhan, China. On May 27, U.S. President Joe Biden ordered an investigation into the origins of the virus after Biden admitted the U.S. intelligence community was divided over the issue.
The league is deferring to the NHLPA to work through the issues with the IOC to get the deal done. However, Bettman expressed concern that talks are dragging on and are affecting the 2021-22 schedule.
“We don’t know. as of right now, and that’s causing us, in addition to consternation, a fair number of issues relative to getting next season up and running,” Bettman said. “It’s reaching the point that we’re getting concerned about the impact on the season because of the uncertainty.”
We’re awaiting the final decision so we can write the Sidney Crosby for captain column. Daly and Bettman admitted time is running short for a resolution. The NHL did not go to the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, either.
As part of the yearly press event, the league also announced the outdoor games, the ALL-Star Game and the 2022 NHL Draft.
NHL Events Schedule
*The NHL schedule will be announced between the end of the Stanley Cup Final and the NHL Draft on July 23-34.
*The Winter Classic will be in Minnesota. The Minnesota Wild will host the St. Louis Blues at Target Field.
*The Stadium Series game will be in Nashville at Nissan Stadium. The Nashville Predators will host the Dallas Stars.
*The 2022 NHL All-Star Game will he help in Las Vegas. It was originally to be held in Florida, but the league did not reschedule
*All Dates (except the Jan. 1 Winter Classic) are TBD while the NHL works on the schedule which could include an Olympic break.
*Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet reports the 2022 NHL Draft will be held in Montreal.