It seemed as if everything had been settled. NHL players returning to Olympic men’s hockey tournament after missing the last winter sports, Now, with the rise of Covid-19 cases across the league, there is more volatility. Here are the answers to the outstanding questions, at least as far as we know; There is still a lot of uncertainty.
Are there going to be NHL players in the Winter Olympics?
So far, yes. League and its players association Strike A deal in September that allowed the Stars to fly to Beijing for games in February, while the league was called off for three weeks.
The NHL began participating in the Games in 1998, but missed the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics when could not settle,
I see you said “for now”. So any doubts?
Some players are definitely getting upset.
The Oilers’ Conor McDavid, one of the league’s biggest stars, told reporters this week: “I’m still a guy who wants to play in the Olympics. But we also want to make sure it’s only for hockey players.” Not only that, but be safe for everyone and for all athletes.”
“I would love to go and I would love to compete, but of course there are a lot of things that I think a lot of us want to work on and just some of the questions we want to see answered,” said Austin Matthews Maple of leaves told hockey news,
“There are many open issues, and I know the Players Association has concerns about them,” Commissioner Gary Bateman said. He added that the league will let players compete “if they really want to do that.”
So why are players particularly concerned?
In general, there is concern over the rise in COVID-19 cases around the world and the rise in cases among NHL players.
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But most of all, the players expressed concern about the strict quarantine rules being followed at the Olympics.
“I have four kids who are under three and a half years old,” said Alex Pietrangelo of Golden Knights. Told the Las Vegas Review-Journal, “With me potentially five weeks off there and for the Olympics, it’s a long time to be away from my family.”
“You talk about a five-week quarantine, if you’ve been there for a few weeks already, that’s a really long time,” said John Tavares of the Maple Leafs. told hockey news, “It’s been a long time. It’s a really long time.”
So what exactly are the protocols going to be?
Well, it’s not clear yet, and there are players and even NHL team owners unsure of the right course of action.
“We are looking forward to a lot of information coming from the IOC and China,” said Donald Fehr, executive director of the players’ union. told ESPN Last week, referring to the International Olympic Committee. “We still don’t know what the status of COVID will be as we get closer.”
Under some of the unfinished rules that have been distributed so far, players who test positive could be required to quarantine for three to five weeks in China.
Are the owner and player on the same page?
Over the years, players have been much more enthusiastic about participating in the Olympics than owners who did not like to have their seasons interrupted. The owners also feel that they should get a share of the huge Olympic revenue.
But this time both sides have similar comments about the “uncertainty” ahead. It remains to be seen what will happen and if one side decides it is time to back down.
Does it come down to money?
While players are motivated to go to sports out of the honor of playing for their countries, financial matters are always important. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told ESPN, an important consideration is that “players who lose time due to Olympic-related Covid will not be paid under their standard players’ contracts.”
The International Ice Hockey Federation will have a $5 million fund to compensate such players. But if there’s a serious outbreak and extended quarantine, that could end quickly.
Has the NHL’s own season been interrupted by Covid?
Yes. This season more than 130 players have entered the covid protocol, ESPN reported, and it has jumped in the past week. It does not mean that all of them had covid. Some people may have been in close contact with someone who did; The league does not explain why a player goes on the list.
On Wednesday, the Calgary Flames 27 people, which includes three coaches and 16 players, in Covid protocol, and their games have been postponed until at least Saturday. Nashville Hunters There were at least a dozen players and coaches in protocol on Wednesday. The Ottawa Senators and Islanders postponed the Games in November. Other teams have played after losing only a few players.
The league plans to tighten its protocols through at least January 7, with ESPN reporting players testing daily instead of every three days, and requiring face masks and physical distancing at team facilities, among other measures. Of.
Who will play in Beijing if NHL players start to back down?
One option would be to go further down the list of NHL players. But if several players say no, or the league or union refuses to play as a group, teams must gather from minor leaguers, players from Europe, or players without contracts.
This is what happened in 2018, when Canada’s roster included players from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and Dinamo Minsk instead of, for example, the Canadiens and Rangers.
This would seriously hurt the prospects of North American teams. In 2018, the Russian team, which had strong players from the domestic league, the Continental Hockey League, won the gold medal. Canada ranked third and the United States seventh. Canada has won three out of five golds at the Games with NHL players, Sweden and the Czech Republic having won one gold each.
It also means that very few fans will be seen.
If NHL players don’t go to games, will the league still have a three-week break?
Sitting down for three weeks with nothing to do doesn’t seem ideal, but the league may not have a lot of options. At the time the league was expected to be dormant, several arenas have booked concerts and other events such as basketball games. Some postponed games could be squeezed into that time frame, but a major restructuring of the schedule is unlikely.
When will this be resolved?
Union and league officials have cited January 10 as an important date, as a pullout after that time would bring a financial penalty. But it is not a drop-dead, and the final decision can be made even later. The Canadian and US men’s teams are due to begin the Olympic Games on February 10.