The NHL and the players’ union had agreed to send players to the 2022 and 2026 Winter Olympics, unless the league seasons were affected by the Covid-19 postponements.
Russian forward Yevgeni Malkin seals the puck for US defenseman Ryan McDonagh during the first period of a men’s ice hockey match at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games Saturday February 15, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo / Mark Humphrey)
New York: National Hockey League players to skip the Beijing Winter Olympics in February following postponement of 50 NHL games COVID-19[female[feminine , according to reports on Tuesday.
Several American media, including ESPN, quoted anonymous sources that the league and the NHL Players Association have reached an agreement not to send athletes to China.
Without the elite millionaire NHL stars, the national teams at the Olympics would be like those at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Games, when minor and retired league players filled the rosters and Russian athletes took the win. ‘gold.
âIt’s disappointing,â said Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos, a 31-year-old Canadian center for the reigning NHL champions.
“For some reason, the Olympic card just didn’t work in my favor. It sucks. It’s something I probably won’t get a chance to do now.”
The NHL and the players’ union had agreed to send athletes to the 2022 and 2026 Winter Olympics, unless league seasons were affected by Covid.
With Tuesday’s game between Washington and Philadelphia postponed due to an outbreak of visitors, the NHL has been forced to postpone 50 games this season.
The NHL was on a four-day hiatus after Tuesday’s lone game, in which defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay edged host Vegas Golden Knights 4-3.
Lightning coach Jon Cooper was not there to see him after entering the NHL COVID-19[female[feminine health protocol just before the match.
Vegas goalkeeper Robin Lehner had previously declined an invitation to represent Sweden at the Olympics.
But compatriot Victor Hedman, a Tampa Bay defenseman, mourned his missed chance on Tuesday.
âThis is something that we have been looking forward to for a very long time,â Hedman said.
âWe were preparing for a battle in February in China. Looks like that won’t happen. It’s a bummer for us. You don’t know when you’re going to have another chance.
“Not being able to go, it’s going to hurt for a while.”
Staying home during the Beijing Olympics would open up two weeks to reschedule NHL competitions and give most players a rest as the league tries to complete a full 82-game campaign for each team.
The NHL had until Jan. 10 to withdraw without financial penalty.
NHL club owners don’t like to end the season to send players to the Winter Olympics – due to the risk of player injuries and loss of income during a peak month of the season. season.
But NHL players have pushed to compete since their Olympic debut in 1998 in Nagano, Japan.
Alex Ovechkin, the Russian Washington Capitals star winger, was among the most passionate about not being able to go in 2018.
Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby, who scored Canada’s golden goal to win the Vancouver 2010 Olympic final, sympathized with those who might miss their chance to win Olympic gold.
âI was fortunate enough to be part of two,â said Crosby.
âI’m so sorry for the guys who missed a lot of chances.
“These are the experiences of a lifetime that you don’t get much as an athlete.”
The players return on Sunday
The NHL games scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday have been canceled ahead of a scheduled three-day Christmas break, which has been amended so that players return to work on Sunday.
Teams will now be on leave from Wednesday to Saturday and will return Sunday for testing, as negative tests are required to enter the facilities.
On Sunday, the NHL announced that all games involving cross-border travel for American and Canadian clubs would not be played.
Nine teams had ended their activities until the break on Monday, when concerns were raised about the NHL skipping Beijing.