Hockey boss expects NHL Olympic decision next month

Luc Tardif, President of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), expresses optimism that an announcement confirming the NHL’s participation in the 2026 Milano-Cortina Winter Olympics will be made by the end of February. The NHL did not send players to the last two Winter Games, but Tardif believes all interested parties, including the NHL, NHLPA, IIHF, and the IOC, are now aligned. Meetings are underway, and Tardif anticipates an announcement before the end of February. The goal is not only for the upcoming Olympics but also for a commitment to the following two editions. Despite setbacks in 2018 and 2022, the intention is to secure NHL player participation in the Olympics, a provision agreed upon in the 2020 collective bargaining agreement. Historical concerns regarding player injuries, marketing limitations, and travel costs persist, but discussions among the NHL, IOC, and IIHF are ongoing.

In addition, Tardif mentions that the potential reinstatement of Russia and Belarus into international hockey competitions depends on ensuring the safety of athletes and organizers for a secure tournament. Both countries have faced bans from IIHF competitions since the invasion of Ukraine. As of late October, the IIHF keeps Russia’s men’s hockey team eligible for the 2026 Winter Olympics, pending a potential ban lift.

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The rankings, determined after last year’s world championship, place Russia at No. 3, despite its absence from international competition. The final three Olympic teams will be determined through qualifying tournaments among lower-ranked nations that began in November.

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