2022 Winter Olympics: Will NHL players participate?

Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images /

According to Gord Miller of TSN, the International Ice Hockey Federation has given the Olympic Committee four choices regarding NHL players and the 2022 Winter Olympics.

In the 2018 Winter Olympics, NHL players were not allowed to participate. This was a huge reason behind the sub-par ratings for men’s hockey. It’s become obvious the Olympics needs the NHL more than the league needs the Olympics. Which brings up an inevitable question – will players be allowed to participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing?

With the NHL’s participation in the next Winter Olympics still up in the air, the International Ice Hockey Federation has given the International Olympic Committee four options for the 2022 Winter Olympics. Since the Olympics will be held in February, the league would need to have a break, much like they did in 2010 and 2014.

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Let’s break down those four options.

1. NHL players participate

This is the most popular options for all hockey fans, as the Olympics is the biggest sports stage in the world. It only makes sense that world-class players participate. Nagano, Vancouver, the list goes on with iconic hockey moments when they participate. It would be a shame to not see a Connor McDavid versus Auston Matthews showdown on international ice.

2. Pyeongchang format

Keep the same format as the last Olympics, with non-NHL player participation. Personally, this is the worst option. Fans were not emotionally invested in the Pyeongchang Olympics, as they knew those players were not the best every country had to offer.

3. Only players under 23 years of age participate

It is still uncertain whether it is players under 23 who don’t have an NHL contract or just all of them in general. Either way, it’s extremely interesting. Before the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, everyone was calling the under 23 North American team a joke.

However, this sentiment changed very quickly once fans saw them play. Younger players tend to throw defense out the window. This makes for some very interesting hockey.

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4. No hockey at all

This one is self-explanatory.

Personally, if I were to rank these options from best-case scenario to worst, here’s what it would look like.

  1. NHL participation
  2. 23 and under
  3. No hockey
  4. Pyeongchang format

NHL participation is first because I want to see the best players face off against each other. The whole point of the Olympics is to see the best athletes in the world compete against each other and it’s so exciting to see the players your country has to offer. (Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid on the same team? Oh yes please.)

23 and under would be a track meet and a ton of fun to watch. It would also give the players a chance to prove themselves on the big stage to either win a contract.

I picked no hockey over the Pyeongchang format because I found the amateur hockey unbearable to watch. Knowing that there are better players out there kills the vibe and there is always a shadow of doubt behind whoever wins the medal. The thought of “they wouldn’t have won if ___ team had ___”. I would rather pick the nuclear option to send the IOC a message.

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Hockey is a big part of the Olympics and if they can’t figure out a way to get the best players to participate, then it is unfortunate to the players and the growth of the game.