What is the Four Nations Faceoff? Format & How we got here

More info about the All Star Game alternative next season.

T.J. Oshie, Washington Capitals
T.J. Oshie, Washington Capitals / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

So the NHL announced Olympic games participation in 2026 which is good news for the players especially the ones who take pride representing their countries. You probably have questions about this new type of tournament called the Four Nations Faceoff so I'll do my best to answer it Washington Capitals fans.

But first here's a quick look at the format from the press release from the NHL and NHLPA:

"Each team will be comprised of 23 NHL Players (20 skaters, 3 goalies) selected by each National Association: Hockey Canada, Finnish Ice Hockey Association, Swedish Ice Hockey Association and USA Hockey. Players must be under an NHL contract for the 2024-25 season and on an NHL roster as of Dec. 2, 2024. All roster announcement dates will be made by the NHL and NHLPA, with each of the participating National Associations selecting its initial six players this summer, prior to selecting its complete rosters later in the year.

All games in the 2025 NHL 4 Nations Face-Off will be played in accordance with NHL rules. Each team will play three tournament games in a traditional Round Robin format, under the following points system: 3 points for a win in regulation time; 2 points for a win in overtime/shootout; 1 point for a loss in overtime/shootout; and 0 points for a loss in regulation time. The two teams with the best tournament record will then advance to a one-game Final. The overtime format for Round Robin games will be three-on-three sudden death for a 10-minute period, followed by a three-round shootout. The overtime format for the one-game Final will be full strength sudden death through successive 20-minute periods until one team scores."


So this is how we got here. Back in 2017 everyone including Alex Ovechkin was furious that the NHL opted not to partake in the 2018 Winter Olympic games for reasons even I don't understand. And this came just a year after I thought the NHL did a good job with the World Cup of Hockey which even hosted select games in DC.

So it's been a while in fact it's been 10 years since T.J. Oshie had that epic game for the Americans over Russia in the shootout. What the NHL is hoping to do to ease back into the transition among players for international play. So Canada, Finland, Sweden, and the USA will partake in the mini tournament next season.

It's like the NBA or MLS midseason tournament but when you're representing your country the stakes just naturally get higher.