The NHL has pulled out of the Beijing Olympics within the wake of rising COVID-19 instances and recreation postponements.
League gamers participated in 5 Olympics from 1998 to 2014 however did not go to the 2018 Video games in Pyeongchang. The NHL had promised a return for the 2022 Winter Video games as a part of its collective bargaining settlement, however the variety of postponements compelled the league to desert the two-week Olympic break with a purpose to reschedule video games.
The following alternative for NHL gamers to go well with up for his or her international locations’ Olympic groups can be in 2026 for the Milano-Cortina Video games in Italy.
Who’s damage most by the choice to withdraw from Beijing?
The Olympics are purported to be best-on-best. Now the lads’s hockey event will not be. As a substitute of attending to showcase high-profile gamers akin to Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Patrick Kane and Leon Draisaitl, NBC should function gamers who won’t be family names. However the Olympics are in regards to the flag, so hockey followers may nonetheless watch, regardless that the standard will not be as robust.
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
He scored the golden objective in additional time of the 2010 Olympics championship recreation in Vancouver towards the Individuals and scored within the gold medal recreation in 2014 as Canada repeated. He already had been named to Beijing and certain would have been Canada’s captain. However he’ll be 38 in 2026. This may need been his final probability to go.
Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
The Capitals captain, having a dominating season, additionally had been an early choice. He would have been a key participant as Russia defended its gold medal. He’ll be 40 in 2026, although he’ll nonetheless be beneath NHL contract on the time.
Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning captain was named to the 2014 Video games, however he wasn’t capable of get well in time from a November damaged leg and couldn’t go. He was within the combine to make his Olympic debut for Canada in Beijing.
Stamkos will flip 36 in the course of the 2026 Olympics.
“The Olympic card simply hasn’t labored out in my favor,” he told reporters. “It sucks. You develop up dreaming of profitable the Stanley Cup and I have been capable of accomplish that and then you definitely develop up representing your nation on the Olympics and profitable a gold medal and that is one thing I in all probability will not have an opportunity to do now.”
Nicklas Backstrom, Capitals
He won silver in 2014 however was pulled before the gold medal game as a result of he failed a doping take a look at for taking the medication Zyrtec-D to deal with his sinusitis. Sweden would have been a challenger to get to the gold medal recreation this 12 months and provides Backstrom one other probability.
Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets
As a former Vezina Trophy winner, Hellebuyck would have been a distinguished goaltender for Group USA. By the point 2026 rolls round, Thatcher Demko and Spencer Knight must be established as the highest U.S. goaltenders.
Group Canada and Group USA
They met twice within the gold medal recreation in the course of the NHL period and Canada has gained 3 times. Each expertise swimming pools are deep sufficient that many deserving gamers wouldn’t have made the roster. Now, each international locations should construct a group that includes minor leaguers, gamers in European leagues and school gamers. European international locations will be capable of draw the highest gamers from their respective leagues. Canada, then the defending champion, gained bronze in 2018 and the Individuals have been ousted within the quarterfinals.
Comply with Mike Brehm on Twitter @ByMikeBrehm