After missing the previous two Winter Games, National Hockey League players will return to the Olympics for the first time in more than a decade.
The NHL, along with the National Hockey League Players Association and the International Ice Hockey Federation, have agreed to allow players to participate in the 2026 and 2030 Olympic Games.
On Friday, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told reporters that the parties involved understood how “important” it was to the players to represent their countries.
“We think this is a great stage for best on best, the best on best in obviously what we believe is in the best sport,” Bettman added.
The 2026 Olympic Games are scheduled to be held in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy. The 2030 host city has yet to be announced.
“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,” NHLPA Executive Director Marty Walsh said in a statement. “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.”
The last time NHL players participated in the Olympics was during the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, where Team Canada won gold.
The NHL said they chose to opt out of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which had caused a pause in the season and the postponement of many games.
The league also opted out of the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, saying the competition would disrupt the hockey season.
In addition to participating in the 2026 Olympics, the NHL also announced a new four-team international tournament that will pit Canada, the United States, Sweden, and Finland against each other in 2025.
Called the “4 Nations Face-off,” the competition is scheduled to make its debut February 12-20, 2025 and consists of seven games over a nine-day window.
The midseason tournament will be held in two North American cities - one in the United States and one in Canada.
NHL All-Star Weekend will not be held in the 2024-25 season.
For more CNN news and newsletters create an account at CNN.com