12:35 p.m.: Commissioner Gary Bettman confirmed an agreement has been reached with the IIHF to send players to the 2026 and 2030 Winter Olympics to media today. Bettman added the league has been given “assurances” that the venue under construction for ice hockey in Milan will be completed on schedule.
9:56 a.m.: The NHL and IIHF have reached a deal to allow players to participate in both the 2026 and 2030 Winter Olympics, ESPN’s Kevin Weekes said Friday. An official announcement is expected from the league later today after the IIHF quickly posted and deleted a post confirming the news on X, formerly known as Twitter, this morning.
Also expected Friday afternoon is an announcement confirming the NHL’s plans to hold a best-on-best international tournament in 2025 between Canada, Finland, Sweden, and the United States, per Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff. The tournament will be hosted in Boston and Montreal and will result in no All-Star Game being held next year.
2026 will mark the first time NHL players participate in the Olympics since the 2014 edition held in Sochi, Russia. Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, have already been tabbed as the 2026 hosts, although concerns about the construction timeline for the Olympic rink in Milan may force the ice hockey competitions to be moved to Turin, which hosted the Winter Olympics in 2004.
The host for the 2023 Games has not been named, although Salt Lake City, Stockholm, Switzerland, and the French Alps region have submitted bids. The French Alps bid entered the “targeted dialogue phase” late last year and is the most likely host for the 2030 edition, while Salt Lake City will likely receive the 2034 Games.
Milan will mark the first Olympic appearance for all of the NHL’s next generation of stars, including Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon, Auston Matthews, Leon Draisaitl, David Pastrňák, Cale Makar, and many others. It’s unclear whether Russia will field a team at the event – they are currently barred from IIHF competition due to the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
Meanwhile, the 2025 four-nations-style tournament will be the first true exhibition of best-on-best international play involving the world’s highest-ranking men’s hockey countries since the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.