Who could forget Nathan MacKinnon dangling Henrik Lundqvist in overtime during the 2016 World Cup Tournament? It’s hard to believe that was the last time NHL players were able to compete in a best-on-best tournament.
That’s about to change.
On Friday, the NHL and NHLPA, along with the IHF, announced that the league is headed back to the Olympics in both 2026 and 2030. In addition, the league announced that they will hold what they’re calling the 4 Nations Face-Off tournament a year from now, where Canada, Sweden, Finland, and the United States will play seven games to determine a winner. This one is not nearly as exciting as a return to the Olympics, because it won’t include anyone outside of the NHL, and quite frankly, it’s excluded a heck of a lot of elite NHL talent. The situation with Russia makes everything a little more complicated, but those aren’t the only stars that won’t be eligible to play.
David Pastrnak, Leon Draisaitl, and Nikita Kucherov are just a few examples of players who won’t be playing in the 4 Nationas Face-Off.
Still, I guess it’s better than nothing.
The more exciting news is the return to the Olympics. MacKinnon has not yet been able to take part in an Olympic tournament, and neither have the likes of Mikko Rantanen or Cale Makar. All three of them are locks to make their respective squads, and they’ll like be joined by a few more of their Avalanche teammates.
In 2026, the Olympics will take place in Milan, Italy, while the 2030 event is set to take place in the French Alps.
Just a few weeks ago, in an interview with Elliotte Friedman, MacKinnon expressed his hope that the NHL would figure it out and find a way for the players to play in the Olympics. He wants a chance to play in the tournament with Sidney Crosby, and he’ll likely get that opportunity now.
“I hope so. I’m hoping,” he said. “I don’t know what’s before the 2026 Olympics, there might be something, but I guess the main thing I’m focused on is the Olympics.”
After the announcement, here’s what NHLPA executive director Marty Walsh had to say:
“For years, the players have embraced the opportunity to compete for Olympic gold, and we are excited that today’s announcement makes it a certainty for our members in the 2026 and 2030 Olympic Winter Games. We also know that hockey fans worldwide have long been anticipating the next best-on-best international competition, and now they can finally see some of their favourite players represent their countries and line up together.”
In the coming weeks, we’ll likely take a look at what Avalanche players have a chance to play in the 2026 Olympics, because there’s quite a few. In the meantime, stay tuned to CHN for more news like this as it comes in.