Over the coming years, hockey fans who have been waiting for the return of worldwide best-on-best competition will have their wish. The NHL declared on Friday that its players will compete in the Winter Olympics in 2026 and 2030 in addition to a “4 Nations Face-Off” in 2025.
Since 2014, when Canada won the gold medal against Sweden, NHL players haven’t taken part in the Olympics. NHL players have been demanding a return to the Olympics in recent years, and their wish is finally coming reality.
The Olympic announcement was revealed by the NHL, NHLPA, and IIHF at a joint press conference held during the NHL All-Star Weekend in Toronto.
“The international composition of National Hockey League rosters is unparalleled, and NHL Players take great pride in representing their countries,” Bettman said in a statement. “We are pleased that today, after intense collaborative efforts with the NHL Players’ Association and the International Ice Hockey Federation, we can formally announce that NHL Players will participate in both the 2026 and 2030 Olympic hockey tournaments.”
Regarding the largest hurdles to NHL players returning to the Olympics, Bettman stated he required guarantees regarding the funding source for the “big ticket items.” The NHL, NHLPA, and IIHF had several key discussions, the most significant of which concerned funding for insurance, travel, and hotel for the families.
The IIHF president, Luc Tardif, also stated that NHL-sized rinks (200 feet by 85 feet) will be used for ice hockey during the 2026 Summer Olympics in Italy.
During the Olympic press conference, the NHL and NHLPA revealed the schedule for the 4 Nations Face-Off, which will feature the United States, Canada, Sweden, and Finland. Two cities in North America, one in Canada and one in America, will host the event.
NHL players Auston Matthews, Elias Pettersson, Connor McDavid, and Sebastian Aho joined Bettman and NHLPA executive director Marty Walsh on stage to talk about the competition.
“It means a lot, obviously,” Matthews said. “At any level, to be able to represent your country is a big honor. … I think it’ll be great for the players and obviously great for the sport and the fans. I think we’ll really enjoy it.”
The top two teams at the conclusion of the four teams’ three Round Robin games will square off in a one-game final to decide the winner.
In order to provide hockey fans with top-tier competition outside of Olympic years, the NHL plans to expand the number of nations taking part in a real World Cup of Hockey every two years starting in 2028.
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