NHL News: NHL Players Officially Out of the Olympics, and the Work Ahead for the NHL Schedule Maker
An official announcement from the NHL that they aren’t going to the Olympics
NHL Public Relations: Gary Bettman officially announced that NHL players won’t be going to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing because of the number of COVID cases and the number of games that have already been postponed.
“The National Hockey League respects and admires the desire of NHL Players to represent their countries and participate in a ‘best on best’ tournament. Accordingly, we have waited as long as possible to make this decision while exploring every available option to enable our Players to participate in the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.
Unfortunately, given the profound disruption to the NHL’s regular-season schedule caused by recent COVID-related events — 50 games already have been postponed through Dec. 23 — Olympic participation is no longer feasible. We certainly acknowledge and appreciate the efforts made by the International Olympic Committee, the International Ice Hockey Federation and the Beijing Organizing Committee to host NHL Players but current circumstances have made it impossible for us to proceed despite everyone’s best efforts. We look forward to Olympic participation in 2026.
“Our focus and goal have been and must remain to responsibly and safely complete the entirety of the NHL regular season and Stanley Cup Playoffs in a timely manner. Therefore, with stringent health protocols once again in place, we will begin utilizing available dates during the Feb. 6-22 window (originally contemplated to accommodate Olympic participation) to reschedule games that have been, or may yet be, postponed.”
On re-scheduling games during the ‘Olympic break’
Pierre LeBrun: “NHL schedule-maker will ask all 32 clubs for updated building dates, particularly for that three-week gap in February. Some buildings had gone ahead and booked non-NHL events like concerts for that period but there’s still some dates to work with.
And it’s not just about re-scheduling postponed games in that three-week period but also moving other games around from teams that actually were not affected yet by cancellations so that those teams have games to play as well during that February period.”
TSN: Pierre LeBrun notes the leagues schedule maker is already hard at work, looking at ways to make up the postponed games and filling in the ‘Olympic break.’
“There’s going to have to be a redux of things, really, for all 32 teams so that there’s some rhythm to the season, and no one gets left behind. So, it’s a more complicated process than it sounds like on the surface, if it wasn’t already complicated enough. The other thing is, I don’t think you’ll see the league come out and announce its revamped schedule for a bit here, because we know that there’s going to be more cancellations, more COVID situations over the next few weeks, well into January, so I think the league will wait at least until mid-January before coming out and saying, okay here’s how the rest of the season potentially looks like.”
Chris Johnston adds that they might have to look at is the idea of extending the season.
“The other thing that hasn’t been discussed, is potentially lengthening the end of the regular season. Basically from Dec. 27 to April 29 you’re looking at about 119 days available to Steven Hatze Petros to fill out that schedule and at least as we’re sitting here now, they feel that can get in the 82-game schedule with that amount of time remaining.”