What will Olympic Hockey Rosters Look Like Without NHL Players?

SportsurgeJanuary 4, 2022

The NHL stated that the 2021-22 season would be put on hold during the Christmas break. The NHL and NHLPA reached an agreement that NHL players would not compete in the 2022 Olympic Games in Beijing, despite the fact that such participation had been agreed upon in the most recent collective bargaining agreement. Punters need not worry as a Canadian sports betting site will provide all the information they need on upcoming matches. The NHL had the authority to use the Olympic break to make up its games rather than have the players compete in the Winter Games since COVID-19 prompted a “substantial alteration” in the schedule, with about 50 games being postponed.

The NHL has withdrawn from the Olympics for the second consecutive year. For financial concerns, including insurance coverage and a lack of revenue and branding concessions from the IOC, it did not compete in Pyeongchang in 2018.

The lineups for this year’s tournament will be a similar mix of amateur players and pros from leagues other than the NHL as in 2018. In 2018, the Canadiens, for example, had Derek Roy and Rene Bourque instead of Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid.

What is the current status of the Olympic rosters?

Due to the absence of the NHL, each country’s managing positions are altered. Team Canada’s general manager and head coach, Doug Armstrong and Jon Cooper will be replaced by Shane Doan and Claude Julien. Team Canada had earlier selected Doan and Julien to lead the Channel One Cup and Spengler Cup teams. 

Bill Guerin, the general manager of the Minnesota Wild, was named as Stan Bowman’s replacement as Team USA GM just a week ago, but sources tell ESPN that he will not be putting together the new U.S. roster. That responsibility would most likely go to John Vanbiesbrouck, USA Hockey’s hockey operations assistant executive director. He was already assisting Guerin and New York Rangers GM Chris Drury with player personnel.

Former Rangers coach David Quinn, who was slated to be an assistant coach under Mike Sullivan in Beijing, is widely expected to take over as the team’s head coach.

Who is going to be on the teams?

Players will be recruited mostly from minor league teams (such as the American Hockey League), NCAA rosters, and European leagues.

That raises another critical question: Will those athletes be able to compete in the Olympics on such short notice?

The NHL announced its non-participation in the 2018 Winter Games in April 2017, giving leagues worldwide plenty of time to prepare. The various European clubs either included Olympic breaks into their schedules (varying from two weeks to almost a month) or didn’t have a defined halt but were aware that players would be departing and could arrange accordingly.

Another caveat is that only AHL players on one-way contracts (with no NHL component) were allowed to leave in 2018. According to the AHL, such players are free to represent their countries. It remains to be seen whether that will be the case this time.

Now that NHL players will not participate, who will be the new favorites?

If all of the invited replacement players show up, Russia might emerge as the actual superpower. Under the OAR banner, it defeated Germany 4-3 in overtime to earn gold at the 2018 Games. This time, the team is the “Russian Olympic Committee,” which is still facing IOC sanctions due to the doping crisis. The Russians could assemble a formidable, very competitive lineup of mostly KHL players under any name.

Linda Cohn and Emily Kaplan, hosts, bring their hockey knowledge and enthusiasm to the show, analyzing the latest news from the league and interviewing the most significant stars on and off the rink. 

Germany’s 2018 squad has ten players over 30, but its two leading scorers, Patrick Hager and Dominik Kahun should be back.

Canada certainly holds the edge over the United States in terms of overall talent, but that might change if the Americans add more NCAA players to their team. Please remember that current NHLers Ryan Donato (21) and Troy Terry (20) were the top scorers for the United States in South Korea last year.

Last but not least, there’s China. It isn’t a serious contender. However, considering the presence of Canada, the United States, and Germany in the NHL’s group, the risk of embarrassment for the host nation is significantly reduced.

Will newcomers be hesitant to join the team?

In Beijing, the protocols are still the protocols. Players are aware that their Olympic experience will include time in the athletes’ village, traveling to venues, participating, and returning to their housing. It’s a “closed-loop” that detracts from the thrill of visiting the host city. Furthermore, they know that they may contract COVID-19 in Beijing and be subjected to a quarantine period that may last weeks.

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