VANCOUVER, B.C.,: FEBRUARY 28, 2010- - Olympic Canadian hockey fans celebrate Team Canada's Gold Medal game victory over U.S.A. in Vancouver on Sunday, February 28, 2010. (Les Bazso/PNG) (For PNG story, Olympics, 2010) [PNG Merlin Archive]
Photograph by: Les Bazso, Vancouver Sun Vancouver Sun PNG
A deal that allows NHL players to participate the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, was struck Friday.
More than 120 NHL players are expected to suit up for the 12 men’s teams that have qualified to play in the Olympic tournament.
The Vancouver Canucks should have a handful of players participating, including Daniel and Henrik Sedin, who will almost certainly play for Sweden. Defenceman Alex Edler should also be included on the Swedish team.
Centre Ryan Kesler (United States) and goalie Roberto Luongo (Canada) are also expected to play.
The 2013-14 NHL schedule will take a break from Feb. 9 until Feb. 26 to allow for participation in the Winter Games.
The deal between the NHL, the NHL Players Association and the International Ice Hockey Federation took longer than expected and has held up release of the 2013-14 NHL schedule. That schedule was expected to released later on Friday.
“The National Hockey League features the most international player population in professional sports, and our outstanding athletes take tremendous pride in representing their homelands on the global stage,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a news release. “The decision to participate in the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi was in many ways a difficult one, but one that we know will be well received by our Players and, most importantly, by the vast majority of our fans and sports fans everywhere.”
This will mark the fifth consecutive appearance by NHL players at the Winter Olympics.
“The players are very pleased that an agreement has been reached that will allow the world’s best hockey players to compete at the Winter Games in February,” said Don Fehr, NHLPA executive director. “Having the opportunity to wear their nation’s sweater in Sochi is something the players look forward to.”
The Olympic hockey tournament runs from Feb. 12 to 23. Canada, which plays in a group with Norway, Finland and Austria, opens the tournament Feb. 13 against Norway.
© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun