Michael Madrid/ USA Today Network
That’s right hockey fans you read the title! Hockey will be back in the Olympics starting in 2026 and 2030 after a joint agreement with the NHL Players Association, the International Ice Hockey Federation, and the International Olympic Committee according to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman confirmed Friday.
2026 will mark the first time the NHL will be allowed to participate in the Olympics since 2014 in Sochi, Russia.
Bettman stated the following regarding international competition for players: “We know how important international competition is to our players, we know how much they love and want to represent their countries from which they're from, and we think this is a great stage for the best-on-best."
Now the NHL has had some history in the Olympics, being part of five straight Olympics from 1998 through 2014. In 2018 they were unable to attend in Pyeongchang, South Korea due to concerns about marketing, insurance, travel costs, and player injuries that prevented the league, the NHLPA, the IIHF, and the IOC.
The costs will be covered by the IIHF and the national federations and Olympic committees of each participating country.
These are the nine countries that have qualified for 2026:
The final three spots will be determined between Feb 8. and Sep 1. through four rounds of qualification.
This will give hockey fans a chance to see their favorite young stars such as Connor McDavid, Nathan McKinnon, Connor Bedard, and so forth represent their country and try to bring the gold home.
This is a great time for hockey as this also comes after they recently announced a four-nation international tournament debuting in 2025 that they hope to build up to World Cup status, similar to what you see for soccer.
Let the games begin!