The NHL has been put on hold. The Beijing Winter Olympics are threatened. Are we in for a long and lonely winter?
The NHL has postponed 50 games (so far).
It paused the regular season over COVID-19 concerns, and for that reason won't send players to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
Citing a disruption to its schedule, the NHL executed its Olympic opt-out clause to avoid February's Games with no financial penalties. Instead of sending players to the Olympics, the NHL will use its planned Feb. 6-22 break to reschedule postponed games. This seems wise. The opt-out wasn't an easy decision for NHL commissioner Gary Bettman:
"We have waited as long as possible to make this decision while exploring every available option to enable our Players to participate in the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. Unfortunately, given the profound disruption to the NHL's regular-season schedule caused by recent COVID-related events -- 50 games already have been postponed through Dec. 23 -- Olympic participation is no longer feasible"
So, with the NHL players skipping the 2022 Olympics, they're now missing two consecutive world games. Note that the NHL didn't send players to the 2018 Olympics in South Korea over a scheduling disagreement. The Olympic opt-out is the latest of many moves the NHL has made to combat its COVID-19 crisis.
In summation, within justt the past week, the league has:
- Introduced stricter COVID protocols (Dec. 18)
- Paused its season through Christmas Day (Dec. 20)
- Opted out of the Olympics (Dec. 22)
Over 65 players remain in the NHL's COVID protocols even though all but one of the league's players -- the Detroit Red Wings' Tyler Bertuzzi -- are vaccinated.
With everything on hold now, we're holding out breaths for a return of NHL action. We can do without the Olympics, but let's get through the World Juniors Championship, and then get back to the regular season in January.
We can only hope.