Nope, not Vancouver Canucks signings, but it is breaking news … based on reports from those close to the league, the NHL players to Beijing scenario is minutiae away from reality.
Hockey Wanderlüst, the international hockey newsletter, and its columnist Ken Yaffe, after consulting sources close to the National Hockey League, is reporting that the NHL to the Olympics is a foregone conclusion.
Barring a remarkably insane Covid re-outbreak, the NHL big boys are going and final plans are being put in place as we speak.
Note: Yaffe worked at the league for two decades, for most of which he ran the NHL’s international department.
The NHL has expressed hesitance about the players going to Beijing because of the major interruption to its business, injury concerns, and stopping a season that’s just one removed from blanket COVID protocols.
However, as part of the 2020 CBA agreement extension, the league promised the players a best effort to facilitate Olympic participation in exchange for other concessions including the playoff bubble.
The league passed off the IIHF negotiations to the NHLPA, and also created a nearly three week hole in the NHL schedule to make it happen.
The NHL recently learned that the IIHF would pay for the players’ insurance coverage, including for Covid. It now appears the best-on-best tournament will happen in Beijing. The NHL skipped the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, having last participated in Sochi in 2014.
Canada won gold the last two times the league has participated, in Russia and in Vancouver in 2010, and again in 2002 in Salt Lake City.
The Czech Republic won the very first NHL-related Winter Olympics Men’s Ice Hockey Gold Medal in 1998 in Nagano, Japan.