It appears NHL players are on the verge of once again participating in the Winter Olympics after skipping the 2018 Pyeongchang Games.
According to Greg Wyshynski of ESPN, the NHL schedule for the 2021-22 season, which will be released Thursday, will include a break from Feb. 5-22, 2022, for the Beijing Winter Olympics. While the NHL and International Olympic Committee haven’t yet finalized an agreement to allow players to represent their countries in 2022 and 2026, Wyshynski adds it’s anticipated the two parties could come to terms as soon as late this month.
Reports surfaced in April that the NHL was targeting Oct. 12 for the start of the next season. The league created an all-Canadian division for the 2020-21 campaign due to the closure of the border to nonessential travel throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s hoped Canadian clubs will be able to welcome opponents back at their in-market venues this fall.
MLB’s Toronto Blue Jays were given clearance to return up north July 30 this past Friday.
It remains unknown how the pandemic will affect the Winter Olympics, but NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said before the Stanley Cup Final there were “real concerns about whether or not it’s sensible to have our players participating and us shutting down for an Olympic break.”