NHL players are expected to return at the next two Olympics.
League Commissioner Gary Bettman announced Friday during All-Star Weekend in Toronto that the NHL had reached an agreement with the Players’ Association and the International Ice Hockey Federation, paving the way for stars such as Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews to compete in Italy in 2026 and the following Winter Games in 2030.
“We know how important international competition is to our players. We know how much they love and want to represent the countries they come from, and we think it’s a great stage for the best against the best in this which we all obviously believe to be…the best sport,” Bettman said.
NHL players last competed at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, where Team Canada won gold. The 2026 Games will be held in Italy, with France expected to be chosen to host the 2030 Games later this year.
“We know that hockey fans around the world have been waiting a long time for the next international competition, and now they can finally see some of their favorite players represent their country and line up together,” said NHLPA General Manager, Marty Walsh.
The NHL also announced a four-team international tournament for 2025 that will include Canada, the United States, Sweden and Finland.
The Four Nations showdown will take place next February in two yet-unnamed cities in Canada and the United States.
“We thought it was a great way to kick off the (international) schedule that we had agreed on,” Bettman said.
The league was scheduled to return at the 2022 Olympics in Beijing, but withdrew due to COVID-19 concerns.
The NHL last hosted a World Cup in 2016. That event featured a North American team and a European under-23 team made up of smaller hockey powers.
Now, this high-level international competition will return next year.
“We succeeded,” said IIHF President Luc Tardif. “It’s been two years of work and more intense the last six months.”