The NHL and NHL Players' Association announced on Friday that they have reached an agreement with the International Ice Hockey Federation that will include a break during the 2021-22 NHL regular season. This will allow NHL players to participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing if they choose to.
However, the agreement also allows for the possibility for the league to withdraw if COVID-19 conditions worsen and NHL games prior to the scheduled break are affected.
"We understand how passionate NHL players feel about representing and competing or their countries," NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said. "We are very pleased that we were able to conclude arrangements that will allow them to resume best on best competition on the Olympic stage."
This will mark the sixth Winter Olympics in which NHL players will be able to participate. It first was at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano. The league skipped the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang.
"Representing their country in the Olympics is important to the players, even in these uncertain times," NHLPA General Counsel Don Zavelo added. "The players look forward to pulling on their nation's hockey sweater at the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing as they compete for the gold medal."
If the NHL does end up holding to the agreement and participating in the Beijing Olympics, it will mark the Olympic debuts for some of the league's best players, such as Edmonton Oilers star Connor McDavid (Canada), Boston Bruins forward David Pastrnak (Czech Republic) and Toronto Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews (United States.)