It looks like the NHL is real close to having an agreement in place in which its players would participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics held in Beijing.
Hockey Wanderlüst, the international hockey newsletter, and its columnist Ken Yaffe, after consulting sources close to the National Hockey League, is reporting that the NHL to the Olympics is a foregone conclusion.
The NHL had expressed hesitance about the players going to Beijing because of the major interruption to its business, injury concerns and halting a season so soon after having the disruption caused by Covid-19.
The NHL did promise players it would make a real effort to facilitate Olympic participation in exchange for other concessions including the playoff bubble.
The league passed off the IIHF negotiations to the NHLPA, and also created a nearly three week break in the NHL schedule to make it happen.
So, now it appears now the best-on-best tournament will happen in Beijing.
Right now, the only member of the Florida Panthers who are part of an Olympic team is Roberto Luongo.
Luongo, a part of the Panthers’ front office, is one of the assistant general managers to Doug Armstrong for Team Canada.
It is hard to describe the level of excitement that I had when I got the call,” Luongo said when it was announced he would be part of Team Canada if the NHL agreed to going to Beijing.
“Quite honestly, I was shocked, I was floored. I wasn’t expecting it. I thought I was getting a call to scout a pee-wee tournament but then I realized it was for Team Canada and the Olympics in 2022.
“It is an incredible honor to be a part of this group. I am really looking forward to it, excited to put a group together and being part o the process from the other side. I am very grateful to have that opportunity.”
Luongo, of course, won’t be the only member of the Panthers to be involved.
Both Jonathan Huberdeau and Aaron Ekblad would be considered strong candidates for Canada, with Sasha Barkov a lock for Finland.
We will get into all the Panthers who could be headed to Beijing in the coming weeks and months.