NHL Players Could Return to Olympics in 2022, 2026 Under New CBA Extension

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJuly 1, 2020

A puck is seen on the ice near the Olympic rings as athletes of the team from Russia work out at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Monday, Feb. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Julio Cortez/Associated Press

If the NHL and NHLPA agree to extend the current collective bargaining agreement, it reportedly could lead to the reinstatement of NHL players competing in the Winter Olympics.

According to TSN's Pierre LeBrun, the proposed CBA extension is expected to include a provision that would allow NHL players to be part of the Olympics in both 2022 and 2026.

NHL players competed in five consecutive Winter Olympics in 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014, but the NHL prohibited its players from taking part in the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

The current NHL CBA is set to expire in 2022, but the NHL and NHLPA have been negotiating an extension recently after both sides previously agreed to keep the current CBA intact.

Olympic participation is an interruption to the NHL season since it forces the league to take a winter break and eliminate the All-Star Game, but there is no question that it is good for the sport to have its best players competing on the worldwide stage.

Some of the best moments in Olympic hockey history occurred with NHL players in the fold. Canada and the United States met in the Gold Medal Game in both 2002 and 2010, with Canada prevailing both times. Canada won in dramatic fashion with an overtime goal by Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby in 2010.

Olympic hockey just didn't have the same feel two years ago, when teams were primarily comprised of professional players from European leagues. Olympic Athletes from Russia had the best team by a wide margin since most of its players competed in the KHL, and it went on to beat Germany for the gold medal.

If NHL players return to the Olympics in 2022, it will be a major coup for fans across the globe, as it would provide them with competitive, high-stakes games involving the best players in the world.

The 2022 Olympics would also provide many top players with their first opportunity to play on the Olympic stage after missing out on that chance in 2018.

With Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel and Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews leading the way for Team USA, the Americans would have a legitimate chance to win their first gold medal since the Miracle on Ice team in 1980.