NHL Notebook: The Players’ Association is focused on participating in the 2026 Olympics
By Cam Lewis7 months ago
The NHL Players’ Association is working on sending players to the Olympic Games in 2026.
There hasn’t been a best-on-best international hockey tournament since the NHL hosted the World Cup of Hockey back in 2016. Given that tournament featured two gimmick teams, there really hasn’t been a true best-on-best international hockey tournament since the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Marty Walsh, the new Executive Director of the Players’ Association, said earlier this week that he’s actively working with NHL Commissioner and the International Ice Hockey Federation to end that drought.
“My focus is to try and make that happen. I’m working with commissioner Gary Bettman, collectively together with the IIHF, and hopefully, we’ll be able to come up with an agreement and move forward,” Walsh told ESPN on Tuesday. “A lot of players from around the globe want to play for their home country. They want that best-on-best tournament. They want to be part of it.”
The NHL participated in the 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, and 2014 Winter Olympics before opting to pull out for the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang. NHL players were set to return to the 2022 Olympics in Beijing but China’s strict COVID-19 rules resulted in the plug being pulled.
The Collective Bargaining Agreement that was reached ahead of the NHL’s summer bubble playoffs in the summer of 2020 formalized a commitment by the NHL and the NHLPA to participate in both the 2022 and 2026 Winter Olympics but that participation is “subject to negotiation of terms acceptable to each of the NHL, NHLPA, and IIHF (and/or IOC).”
Walsh also said that the PA has had conversations with the league about hosting more World Cup tournaments. He said that the tournament would be a true best-on-best without Team North America and Team Europe and that it wouldn’t just be a one-off every decade or so.
“We’ve had some conversations with the league about making sure that if we’re going to do a World Cup hockey tournament, it’s best-on-best and we do it for a period of a couple different tournaments, so that we’re not doing this one-off every 10 years. That we have more consistency moving forward. That still has a ways to go,” he said.
There had been talks about the NHL hosting a World Cup in February of 2024, but NHL and NHLPA said in a joint statement that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine made “the current environment not feasible” to stage the event at that time.
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