NHL players aim to compete in 2022 Winter Olympics

China 2022

BEIJING (NEXSTAR) — A little more than three and a half years ago, the Olympic athletes from Russia defeated Germany to win the Olympic gold medal in men’s ice hockey.

There were no current National Hockey League players on either team. That is changing for the 2022 Winter Games.

The NHL first began sending its players to the Olympics in Nagano in 1998. That continued for the next four winter Olympics through Sochi in 2014.

“It was a great feeling to be in front of the fans. And for the guys, I mean, we were celebrating like we won the Cup or something,” said Zemgus Girgensons, a Buffalo Sabres forward with Team Latvia.

But not in Pyeongchang in 2018. There are several reasons why. One of which: NHL owners were not wild about pausing their season for 17 days.

Also, the IOC had paid for everything in the past, but was not willing to do so in South Korea.

In September, the NHL, National Hockey League Players’ Association and International Ice Hockey Federation reached a joint agreement.

“Unbelievable experience to have as a player and I’m just happy to be a part of it again,” Girgensons said.

“You know, just to play for Team Finland is always an honor for me. Still have memories as a kid, watching those Olympic games when Team Finland played pretty well every time there,” said Sebastian Aho, a Carolina Hurricanes forward, who’s on Team Finland.

As for Team USA, three players have already been named: Patrick Kane and Seth Jones from the Chicago Blackhawks, and Auston Matthews from the Toronto Maple Leafs.

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