Why the NHL should return to the Olympics

Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals (Photo credit should read LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP via Getty Images)
Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals (Photo credit should read LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP via Getty Images) /

Every four years the entire world comes together to root for their home countries. That is the beauty of the Olympics. Whether it’s the winter or the summer, it’s an important time for both athletes and the citizens that are rooting them on.

During the Winter Olympics we’ve seen plenty of NHL stars represent their home countries. But not recently. What happened?

Well back in 2017 the NHL decided to no longer send their players to the Olympic Games. This was part of a new CBA. It didn’t matter though. It made lots of people unhappy.

One of those unhappy folks was none other than Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin. That year he was very vocal about still going before he released a statement saying that he wouldn’t.

But things might be changing very soon.

The NHL is in talks with the Players’ Association to bring back an international style tournament that’s similar to the World Cup of Hockey, which last took place in 2016.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly was the one to confirm this at the NHL Media Tour in Stockholm, Sweden. Per Dan Rosen of NHL.com, both sides are working toward a deal to hold this tournament in 2025 ahead of participation in the 2026 Winter Olympics in Italy.

Daly said specifically:

"“So if we do a ’25 international tournament, we do the ’26 Olympics, the ’28 World Cup of Hockey, the ’30 Olympics, the ’32 World Cup of Hockey, and so on. That’s the goal.”"

The 2026 Winter Olympics takes place in Italy. The idea here is to have the World Cup of Hockey sandwiched two years after the Olympics so there’s international play roughly every two years.

We’ve seen NHL players play with pride for whatever respective team they’re on. It’s a whole different level when the players put on the colors of their home country. We see the best of the best and the world gets to learn these NHL players too.

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That’s how you grow the game worldwide and that’s why we need to send players back to the Olympic Games.