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NHL Pulls Out of 2022 Olympics

Disappointment ensues as the NHL pulls players from the Winter Olympics in Bejiing
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The National Hockey League (NHL) and the National Hockey League Players Association (NHLPA) have decided to back out of the 2022 Olympics in Beijing. The decision it seems, is inevitable.

Due to an overwhelming rise in Coronavirus (COVID) cases around the league, over 70 games have been postponed. What would’ve been a 16 day gap in the season for the Olympics to take place, is now going to be used as a time to re-schedule the games that were postponed in December of 2021.

“I know some guys are disappointed. I respect that, I admire that, but we had no choice” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on the decision during a post-game TNT interview after the Winter Classic in Minnesota.

High Olympic hopes

Disappointment is the key word for many players who expected to take the stage in Beijing. Players like Sidney Crosby, who won the gold medal at the Olympics for his home country of Canada with his “golden goal” in 2010, and another victory in 2014, weren’t just looking for another medal, but for another amazing experience like the Olympics.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of two (Olympics). I definitely feel for the guys who have missed numerous opportunities. It’s not something where it’s the next year or you push it a couple months…. these are opportunities and experiences of a lifetime that you don’t get very many of as an athlete, and you might only get one. And it just might happen to kind of fall into your window, and if that doesn’t work out, that’s unfortunate” said Crosby in an article on NHL.com.

With the winter Olympics coming around every four years, the window, like Crosby mentioned, is tight. There are players that are in their prime right now, or even in on the back-half of their career, like Alex Ovechkin (36), who was supposed to play for his home country of Russia. His opportunity could be missed, but according to sources, he plans to play for five more years: just in time to step out and represent on the ice in 2026

The Olympic talent

The representatives for Team USA were to be comprised of at least three NHL players that were born in the United States. One of those players is Auston Matthews, a forward for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He led the league with 41 goals during the NHL season last year, and collected 66 points in 52 total games played during the shortened 2020-2021 season. This would’ve been his first Olympic Games. Lucky for Matthews, the 2026 games are certainly still a possibility should he continue to play the way he is right now.

Patrick Kane, forward and hockey prodigy, was set to step out on the ice for Team USA as well. Seth Jones, who is now Kane’s teammate on the Chicago Blackhawks, would have represented the team as a defensemen.

Team USA had its weapons, for sure, but Canada even more-so. With Crosby making his third appearance, along with Connor McDavid and Alex Pietrangelo, the team could have easily gone for its fourth gold medal for Canada since the NHL was first allowed to play in the Olympics 22 years ago. McDavid and Crosby playing on the same ice, and on the same team would have been quite the sight.

The 2018 Winter Olympics

This is not the first time NHL players have been notified of this disappointing news. A similar situation happened in 2018, too. Players from the NHL were preparing for a once in a lifetime opportunity at the PyeongChang Olympics. But, the league also backed out for reasons that seem almost absurd considering the situation our world is in right now. The NHL and the International Olympic Committee couldn’t agree on who was going to cover costs and expenses for the players.

It’s hard to really put into words what I think a lot of guys are feeling, especially the guys that did not go before. Now, we’re missing it for the second time in a row. We can’t dwell on it”, said Connor Mcdavid in an article on Sports Illustrated.

The Olympics is home to the worlds best-on-best competition. It’s a stage where the most skilled, talented, and well-known athletes get to show off their talents. While different leagues can also produce great hockey players, majority of the world’s best come from the NHL. Its going to be a different atmosphere this year on the ice, and the caliber of talent may not be as enticing to watch, but the best we can do is come together and cheer on our home teams, especially in such unprecedented times.

Author

  • Haley Wald

    Aspiring sports reporter who desires to uncover the raw truths within the sports industry. I hope someday you'll find me down on the sidelines, or at the Stanley Cup Finals. Hockey and Football are my jam, but if you say the word "sports" I guarantee you'll catch me chiming in even if you didn't want me to.

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