Hockey News

Olympic Games: A wind of optimism regarding the participation of the NHL in 2026

Luc Tardif started to smile when the question was asked.

This is a question that the president of the International Ice Hockey Federation has answered many times.

What is the status of the NHL’s possible participation in the 2026 Olympic Games?

The puck still hasn’t completely crossed the line.

Tardif believes, however, that an agreement is close to being reached and that all the main participants — the NHL, the NHL Players’ Association and the International Olympic Committee — are on the same page.

“If you can see it, I’m smiling,” Tardif said at the closing press conference on the sidelines of the final between hosts Sweden and the United States at the World Junior Hockey Championship in Gothenburg.

“Now all the planets are aligned.”

The leader from Trois-Rivières plans to meet IOC President Thomas Bach in mid-January, before meeting with the NHL and the Players’ Association during the league’s all-star game. in Toronto.

A final decision is expected to be made at the FIHG Congress in mid-February. This would allow two years of preparation before the sport’s best talents return to the world stage at the Milan-Cortina Games in Italy.

The NHL participated in five Olympic Games between 1998 and 2014, but did not take part in the event in 2018 for financial reasons. The league was scheduled to travel to Beijing in 2022 before canceling due to COVID-19 concerns.

The main issues between the NHL, Players’ Association, IOC and FIHG have always boiled down to one thing: money, insurance, licensing and travel costs all being included in the negotiations.

Hockey stars have made it clear that they want to return to the Olympic Games, both to defend their country’s colors and to contribute to the development of the sport on a global level.

The league promised to do everything in its power to make this happen when the collective bargaining agreement was extended in July 2020.

Hockey hasn’t seen a men’s tournament between the sport’s best since the 2014 Games, with players like Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews and Nathan MacKinnon all missing out so far.

Tardif added he was confident the Olympic venue would be ready in time for 2026, after NHL commissioner Gary Bettman expressed concerns in December.

The FIHG president also spoke about the need to obtain agreement from all leagues and federations to establish a single hockey calendar for the next decade.

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