NHL players reportedly opting out of 2022 Winter Olympics

With the 2022 Winter Olympics about six weeks away in Beijing, big changes are likely coming in several events due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Starting with men’s hockey, it doesn’t appear the best players in the world will be participating in the Olympics. Sources tell Fox 9 Sports Director Jim Rich that NHL players are opting out of the Winter Olympics, with an official decision to be announced as early as Monday.

The news wouldn’t be a surprise, with COVID-19 hitting multiple NHL teams with positive tests in recent weeks. The Minnesota Wild had two games postponed last week after COVID-19 issues with the Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers. The Wild’s game scheduled for Thursday against the Detroit Red Wings has also been postponed. 

The Wild, which is in a three-way tie for the Western Conference lead, is looking to snap a three-game losing skid at the Dallas Stars Monday night. The Wild also host the St. Louis Blues on New Year’s Day for the NHL Winter Classic, all pending COVID-19.

Wild General Manager Bill Guerin is the GM for Team USA, and ultimately has the responsibility if putting together an Olympic roster. Protocols would call for players on Olympic teams to arrive in Beijing early enough to quarantine. A full Team USA roster has not been announced, though Patrick Kane, Auston Matthews and Seth Jones were the first three players to be selected.

If NHL players officially opt-out, Guerin would have to choose from players between junior hockey, college, minor league players and those already playing on contracts overseas. It would be the second straight Olympic games without NHL players on Team USA.

Team USA has been placed in Group A with Canada, Germany and China. The 2022 Winter Olympics are scheduled for Feb. 4-20 in Beijing.