On today’s edition of TSN’s Insider Trading, Darren Dreger dove into some more details surrounding a potential NHL return to Olympic participation in 2026. With the next edition of the Winter Olympics set to commence in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, it would be the NHL’s first time letting its players participate in the international event since 2014 in Sochi, Russia. After electing not to participate in the 2018 event, the NHL was on track to return to the Olympics in 2022 before concerns around travel and COVID insurance could not be resolved, leading the league to pull the plug on Olympic participation for a second straight cycle.
They appear on track to change that, with the NHL set to attend tomorrow’s IIHF meeting in Portugal with discussions around travel costs for 2026 on the agenda, per Dreger. Both the NHL and NHLPA have expressed a renewed vigor for international participation in recent months after former United States Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh assumed the lead post at the players’ association, quickly identifying a return to best-on-best international play as one of the players’ highest short-term priorities.
Some more administrative notes from the Insider Trading crew:
- The NHL/IIHF partnership remains a topic of discussion, as Dreger also reports the league is stepping up to host an IIHF tournament for the first time. In conjunction with USA Hockey, the NHL will host/sponsor the 2025 edition of the Men’s U18 World Championships, the last major showcase tournament for draft-eligible prospects in a yearly cycle. Normally held in mid-to-late April, it’s unclear in which American city the tournament will be hosted at this time. The United States last hosted the tournament in 2021 in Frisco and Plano, Texas, and captured their record 11th gold medal at the tournament in 2023. 2025 will be the fourth time the US has hosted the tournament since its inception in 1999.
- Lastly, Chris Johnston adds that the NHL is continuing to sort out logistical concerns regarding a venue for the 2024 NHL Draft, which is expected to take place in Las Vegas along with the 2024 NHL Awards. With the Vegas Golden Knights’ T-Mobile Arena seemingly unavailable for the Draft due to scheduling conflicts, Johnston reports the NHL has explored hosting next year’s draft at Sphere, the rather eye-drawing concert venue which boasts the largest LED screen in the world, newly opened by Madison Square Garden Company and New York Rangers majority owner James Dolan. It would certainly be a departure from normal procedure for the league, which has opted to host the Draft exclusively at team arenas, hotels and league offices throughout the event’s history.