On TSN’s Insider Trading today, Pierre LeBrun relayed some of the reservations the NHL might be having about a potential NHL return to Olympic hockey participation in 2026. The NHL hasn’t taken part in the Olympics since the 2014 Sochi Olympics in Russia, a tournament in which Canada took gold. The league did not participate in the events in 2018 and opted not to return in 2022 due to COVID concerns as well as concerns surrounding travel.
LeBrun told viewers that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman spoke to the NHL board of governors and had concerns about the Olympic arena in Milan, Italy which is not built yet and has a projected timeline that would see construction conclude just six to eight weeks before the Olympics begin.
On top of that, there remains no agreement on many important details such as families travelling to the Olympics as well as an agreement on the players’ insurance.
Lebrun added that he believes this is the most negative he has heard the NHL talk about 2026 Olympic participation but he does add that NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly is not pessimistic towards NHL players returning to the Olympics.
In other evening notes:
- The Nashville Predators announced that forward Cole Smith missed tonight’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks with an apparent illness. The 28-year-old is currently listed as day-to-day, and it is unknown whether he will be able to suit up on Thursday when the Predators take on the Tampa Bay Lightning. Smith has just one full NHL season under his belt and has started this year at a solid pace with four goals and five assists in 24 games while averaging nearly three hits a game.
- Aaron Portzline of The Athletic is reporting that Columbus Blue Jackets forward Patrik Laine was a scratch tonight due to an illness. No word yet on any timeline for Laine to return as the news came out just before the start of the Blue Jackets’ game against the Los Angeles Kings. Mathieu Olivier was expected to be scratched for the game but took Laine’s place in the lineup and scored his first goal of the season in the 4-3 loss. Laine has struggled out of the game this season and has been a healthy scratch at times, he has just five goals and two assists in 16 games thus far which is well short of the numbers he has put up in recent years where he has been a point-a-game player.