IIHF president René Fasel said he told the International Olympic Committee there are four options for hockey’s participation at the 2022 Winter Olympics, according to TSN’s Gord Miller.
- Go back to NHL participation (as in 1998-2014)
- Use the 2018 model (participation from all major leagues except NHL)
- Use under-23 players (similar to Olympic men’s soccer)
- No Olympic hockey
It’s clear which option Fasel favors.
“Having the best on best should be our mission,” Fasel said in an Oilers TV interview last week.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has repeated since last fall that he doubts the league takes a midseason break for the 2022 Winter Games, even with a more favorable host market for hockey growth in China than the recent Winter Games in South Korea.
“I never say never, but I find it hard to envision a scenario where it makes sense, unless, possibly, if the Winter Games are back in North America where the time frame and the attention and the logistics, travel, are a lot different,” Bettman said in November.
The last time a Winter Olympic sport was cut from an Olympic program was in 1960, when Squaw Valley organizers decided against the cost of building a sliding track, meaning bobsled events were not held. The sport returned in 1964 and has been on the Olympic program ever since.
There’s still a long way to go. The decision on NHL participation in the last two Olympics — in for Sochi, out for PyeongChang — was not announced until less than a year before each Winter Games.
“It is too early to get into Beijing, but it remains our goal to bring back a best-on-best Olympic tournament,” Fasel said earlier last week, according to the Edmonton Sun.
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