The National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players’ Association have agreed to postpone the season due to COVID-19 concerns. Multiple sources are saying that they have agreed not to take part in the 2022 Beijing Olympics because of the pandemic.

The news about the postponed season was announced in a press release that stated that the season will not resume until December 27, with all games that had been scheduled this week being postponed.

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“Upon return from the holiday break to team facilities, no individual in the team’s traveling party shall enter (other than for testing purposes) until they have a negative test result,” read the press release.

Multiple sources have also told ESPN that the NHL and NHL Players’ Association have agreed not to take part in the upcoming 2022 Beijing Olympics because of COVID-19.

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The NHL and NHLPA had negotiated Olympic participation in the 2022 games, with the only caveat being if the current NHL regular season was “materially impacted” by COVID-19 postponements. The NHL had already postponed 50 games this season, and the latest postponements until after Christmas reportedly pushed them over that threshold.

It is expected that the formal announcement about the NHL dropping out of the 2022 Olympics will be coming within the next 24 hours. This news has been understandably devastating for the NHL players who had planned to compete for Team USA at the Olympics.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of two [Olympics],” said Penguins captain Sidney Crosby. “I definitely feel for the guys who have missed numerous opportunities. It’s not something where it’s the next year or you push it a couple of months. These are experiences of a lifetime that you don’t get very many of as an athlete.”

“Yeah, that sucks. I think everyone was looking forward to this,” said Kyle Connor, a Winnipeg Jets player who appeared to be headed for Team USA. “We made it a big part of our collective bargaining agreement as the players, to bring the Olympics back. Whether it’s about different circumstances about going to China with COVID and everything, I think it would have been a great tournament.”

Goalie Connor Hellebuyck, a potential starter for the Americans, questioned whether he would be able to compete in the next Olympics in 2026.

“If the next one’s in four years, I’ll be 32,” he said. “I know I’ll be playing my best hockey, but it’s going to be a different story.”

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The rosters for the Olympics will now be filled by a combination of amateur players and professionals playing in leagues that are not the NHL, with most of them likely coming from the North American minor leagues and professional leagues from overseas. This is what happened when the NHL also declined to participate in the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics when Russia won the gold in hockey.

This piece was written by James Samson on December 21, 2021. It originally appeared in and is used by permission.

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