Per reports, NHL players returning to the Olympics could be close.
Ken Yaffe, a columnist for Hockey Wanderlüst and a colleague of our sister site Vancouver Hockey Now, consulted sources close to the NHL and is reporting that NHLers heading to the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing is a “foregone conclusion,” barring any COVID-19 re-outbreaks. Yanne worked at the league for two decades with the international department.
Players have not participated in the Olympics since the 2014 games in Sochi. However, players and the league agreed to a return to the 2022 and 2026 Winter Olympics as part of the 2020 CBA agreement. As a result, the NHLPA has been negotiating with the IIHF, and the NHL included a three-week break in the 2021-22 schedule to allow for potential participation. The IIHF had also agreed to pay COVID-19 insurance for NHLers who wanted to play in the final Olympic qualifiers.
READ MORE ON WHN: Martin Fehervary Discusses Injury, Missing Qualifiers For Olympics
For the Washington Capitals, there are several players who could head to China to represent their home nations.
Alex Ovechkin is an obvious choice for the Russian Olympic Committee as he looks for his first gold medal. Dmitry Orlov also stands out as a strong choice on defense. Vladislav Tretiak, the president of the Russian Hockey Federation, confirmed that Evgeny Kuznetsov will not be able to participate. Kuznetsov received a four-year ban after testing positive for cocaine in 2019.
Nicklas Backstrom and Carl Hagelin both attended an Olympic preparatory meeting for Team Sweden back in early August. Former Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky also went. T.J. Oshie and John Carlson could also lace ’em up for Team USA.
Martin Fehervary was going to participate in the final Olympic qualifiers for Team Slovakia, but a muscle injury held him out of the tournament. Washington prospect Aliaksei Protas skated for Team Belarus in the qualifiers.