After twelve years and two missed tournaments, NHL hockey players will return to the Olympic Games, where they will play not only in Milan 2026, but also in 2030. The long-term agreement was announced today at the All-Star Game in Toronto by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and the president of the International Ice Hockey Federation ( IIHF) Luc Tardif.
At the same time, the NHL confirmed that in 2025 it will organize a tournament of four countries without the participation of the Czech Republic, at which the selections of the USA, Canada, Sweden and Finland, consisting of NHL players, will be presented.
“First of all, it’s great news for the fans and hockey as such. We all know that hockey has been missing a tournament of the best against the best for a long time. And at the Olympics in Italy, we will all finally see it after a long time,” said the general manager of the Czech national team, Petr Nedvěd in a statement to ČTK, which was mediated by the hockey association.
“We will certainly talk about it in the coming days as part of the national implementation team, but it is still a long way off. The absolute priority for all of us right now is the upcoming home World Cup.”
NHL hockey players last played at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, where Canada defeated Sweden in the final. The league did not allow players to go to Pyeongchang in 2018 due to disputes with the International Olympic Committee over the payment of travel, accommodation and insurance costs. NHL players did not start in Beijing in 2022 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Coming back to the Olympics is a recognition of how important it is to the players. Everyone in our leadership felt it was the right thing to do because our players really wanted it,” Bettman said at a news conference.
“As hockey fans, we are excited about this landmark agreement and are already looking forward to witnessing the best of hockey at the Olympic Games in Milan and in 2030,” added IIHF President Tardif. The venue for the 2030 Olympics has not yet been determined.
Until 2014, hockey players from the NHL had played in five Olympic Games in a row since 1998, when the Czech national team sensationally won the “Tournament of the Century” in Nagano.
The tournament organized by the NHL in 2025 will be a partial successor to the World Cup, which was last held with Czech hockey players in 2016. The competition for four teams, called the 4 Nations Face-Off, will be held from February 10 to 20, 2025 in two yet-to-be-determined North American cities , one in the US and one in Canada.
The teams will play each other in the tournament and the top two teams will advance to the finals. In total, seven matches will be played in nine days. Due to the tournament, the traditional NHL All-Star Game will be canceled next season.