July 22 (Reuters) – The NHL released the schedule for its 2021-22 season on Thursday, which included the Seattle Kraken’s debut on the opening night and a pause in action next February to cover a possible deal to send players to the Olympics in Beijing to enable.
Subject to an agreement with the NHL Players’ Association and the International Ice Hockey Federation on issues including adequate COVID-19 insurance for NHL players, the league has agreed to suspend its season from February 7-22.
The Beijing Olympics are slated to begin on February 4, while the preliminary rounds of the men’s ice hockey tournament, which would be one of the tents for the Winter Games if NHL players participated, begin on February 9.
“The NHL and the NHL Players’ Association retain full authority not to participate if COVID-19 conditions deteriorate or otherwise pose a threat to the health and safety of NHL players, or for any other reason warranting such a decision could. ” The NHL announced in a press release.
Unhappy with the prospect of interrupting a regular season to send its most valuable assets overseas where they could be injured, the NHL ended a streak of five consecutive Winter Olympics when it chose not to travel to Pyeongchang in 2018 .
That NHL decision came despite clear indications from several of the world’s best players that they wanted to leave.
Some NHL team owners have lost enthusiasm for the Olympics as players return to NHL competition injured or tired, affecting their teams’ chances of making this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs.
But the league and players have agreed to go to the 2022 and 2026 Olympics as part of an extension of a collective agreement signed last year if they could reach an agreement with the IOC.
The NHL regular season kicks off on October 12 with a double header with reigning Stanley Cup champions Tampa Bay Lightning and the Pittsburgh Penguins before Seattle kicks off its first season with the Vegas Golden Knights.
Seattle will play its first five games on the road before the home game against the Vancouver Canucks on October 23.
The regular season, in which each team will play 82 games, ends on April 29 with each team in action.
Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Arrangement by Richard Pullin
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