PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) — Some of the Pittsburgh Penguins could be competing for Olympic gold again this coming winter.
In a joint statement from the NHL, NHLPA and the IIHF, the say they have come to an agreement on a break in the 2021-2022 NHL Regular Season Schedule so players can go to Beijing to compete in Winter Games.
However, the agreement leaves open the possibility to withdraw due to the changing COVID-19 pandemic.
Here is the full statement:
“The National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) and the National Hockey League (NHL) announced today that they have concluded an Agreement with the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) that confirms a break in the 2021-22 NHL Regular Season Schedule, subject to terms of the Agreement, in order to accommodate the participation of NHL Players in the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. The Agreement allows for the possibility of a later decision to withdraw in the event evolving Covid conditions are deemed by the NHL/NHLPA to render participation by NHL Players to be impractical or unsafe.”
COVID-19 insurance is not part of the agreement, though IIHF president Rene Fasel confirmed the IIHF will provide a $5 million fund for any lost salary because of the disease. Vaccinations are expected to be required, and players will have their contracts insured for injury.
“It was not easy, but we did it,” Fasel told The Associated Press by phone. “I’m really, really happy. When you see the last was 2014, and they would wait until 2026, so you have 12 years in between — that means we have a generation of hockey players that would not be able to play in the Olympics.”
2022 Winter Olympics, here we come! https://t.co/q8q21nCBoC
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) September 3, 2021
Penguins’ star players Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have both played in the Winter Games before.
Penguins’ head coach Mike Sullivan has already been named the 2022 USA Men’s Olympic Hockey head coach.
He has called returning to the Olympics “such an exciting time for hockey.”
Sullivan is no stranger to the Olympics, he was an assistant coach of Team USA at the 2006 Olympics under Peter Laviolette.