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Deep Blue Sea: NHL & NHLPA to agree to pull out of 2022 Olympics

With the ongoing COVID outbreak across professional sports and the amassing postponements, the NHL will decide to pull out of the Olympics, per ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski. It’s a bittersweet decision on the horizon, since it was both discussed at the Board of Governor’s meeting on Dec. 9, and is currently an active discussion across league management.

The decision will be made jointly by the NHL and the NHLPA, with both sides reportedly in favor of not allowing NHL players to travel to Beijing for the 2022 Winter Olympics. The NHL has never been a huge fan of international competitions during the season, and it’s obvious why; it disrupts their playing schedule, interrupts revenue sources and can bring untimely injuries. With the addition of COVID and a lengthy quarantine period in case of a positive test, the NHL is even less enthused about the idea.

For some players, the Olympics are a dream come true that they’ve been thwarted for years. Many top NHL players, especially those from Central and Eastern Europe, have played for National teams at some point, whether it be in the World Junior Championship, World Championship or World Cup of Hockey. Representing their country is an honor granted to only a few individuals.

However, with the number of postponed games piling up, the NHL will need the roughly three-week Olympic break in February to make up lost time (and lost money). As of right now, a league-wide pause beyond the slightly extended holiday break is unlikely, but individual teams can, and have been paused through mass game cancellations.

Plus, players themselves are feeling the pressure of having to decide what’s best for them, their health and their families when it comes to the Olympics. If the NHL decides to allow NHL players to choose to report to national teams, players will have a tough decision to make. Do they risk a positive test and a potential three- to five-week quarantine period? Or do they play it safe and miss yet another opportunity to play in the Olympics?

Erik Karlsson and Tomas Hertl have spoken on their complicated emotions when it comes to the pandemic and the Olympics. Karlsson said, “Me, having a family, I can’t take that risk. There’s a lot of other people that probably feel the same way even though I haven’t talked to too many guys.”

Hertl, who has always wanted to represent Czechia for the Olympics and has yet not been able to (in 2013, he had a knee injury that prevented him from playing), said that with the situation being as it is, “‘it just seems almost impossible.”

News & Notes

Blood in the Water

  • Sources: NHL not going to Olympics due to COVID-19 surge [ESPN]
  • The NHL’s coronavirus surge could keep its players out of the Olympics. Here’s what to know. [Washington Post]
  • Sorry, But No: NHL Players Shouldn’t Be Going to the Olympics [MSN Sports]
  • NHL, NHLPA will make decision on Olympics in coming days after rash of postponements [Yahoo Sports]
  • Chase Field in running to host NHL hockey? [Ballpark Digest]
  • The Bruins are shut down through the NHL’s holiday break, but why isn’t the entire league? [The Boston Globe]
  • Steve Yzerman questions whether NHL should test players not showing COVID symptoms [MLive]
  • Wild and coach Dean Evason trying to adapt with NHL schedule in constant flux [Star Tribune]
  • NHL announces plans for Fan Fair during Las Vegas All-Star game in February [8 News]
  • Lehner’s return to Long Island ‘so much more than hockey’ [NHL]
  • Connolly suspended four games for actions in Blackhawks game [NHL]
  • How the Rangers are preparing their next wave of top prospects for NHL [New York Post]/

Scores & Recaps

  • Minnesota Wild 4, Dallas Stars 7/

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On the Schedule

  • Washington Capitals at Philadelphia Flyers, 4 p.m. PT/7 p.m. ET on HULU, ESPN+
  • Tampa Bay Lightning at Vegas Golden Knights, 7 p.m. PT/10 p.m. ET on SN360, SN, TVAS, ATTSN-RM, BSSUN, ESPN+/
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