There is a chance Winter Olympics ice hockey could grow more exciting with the participation of players from the National Hockey League (NHL), the top ice hockey league in the world, and Beijing 2022 might be the perfect stage.
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According to The Sports Network (TSN)’s Pierre LeBrun, the NHL and the National Hockey League Players Association (NHLPA) are negotiating to extend the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and may add a provision that will allow NHL players to attend the Winter Olympics in both 2022 and 2026.
NHL players attended the five straight Winter Olympics from 1998 to 2014, as the league would adjust its schedule so players could go. The NHL’s involvement led to some of the greatest highlights on the Olympic stage.
For example, Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins scored the golden goal for Canada in the seventh minute of overtime in the final in 2010, helping his country defeat Team USA 3-2 to win the Olympic ice hockey gold medal for the eighth time at home in Vancouver. That game became one of the most famous victories in Olympic history.
However, in April 2017, the NHL forbade its players from attending the Winter Olympics. There were various reasons for this decision, but the major one was the NHL did not think it was getting enough in return for all the inconvenience the Winter Olympics caused for the league.
As a result, both Canada and Team USA went to PyeongChang with amateur squads. The games lost their excitement, just like the Canadians lost victory. In the end, Russia, who could recruit most of their players from the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), won the championship.
Many were unhappy about the ban, and players understandably wanted to play on behalf of their countries at the Winter Olympic stage, one of the world’s top tournaments. With the 2022 Winter Olympics happening in Beijing, a huge market awaits. The NHL will not want to miss that.
That’s why the two sides are now trying to make it work. If Team USA arrives in Beijing with a squad led by Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel and Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, they will have a chance to win the gold medal for the first time since 1980.
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