The NHL is sticking to its plan to allow its players to compete in the Beijing Olympics.

For now.

Speaking at the conclusion of the board of governors meeting in Florida, Commissioner Gary Bettman said Friday the league will continue to honor its commitment to giving players the opportunity to compete for gold in February.

But there is still no clarity on what happens if an NHL player tests positive for COVID-19 in China, including the length of a potential quarantine and if the individual will be allowed to leave the country during that period. Any significant disruption to the NHL schedule also could alter the league’s thinking on the Olympics.

“We made a promise,” Bettman said during a news conference at the Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa following the board’s first face-to-face meeting since 2019. “It’s not like we haven’t expressed our concerns. But in the final analysis, subject to some caveats, with all of the issues that are being raised … the players, for the most part, seem to continue to be saying they want to go.”

The league made that promise to the NHL Players’ Association when the extension to the current collective bargaining agreement was signed ahead of pandemic-delayed 2019-20 season. The two parties then inked a deal with the International Ice Hockey Federation on the Games in September.


“Our concerns have only been magnified,” Bettman said of going to Beijing. “But ultimately, we made a commitment.”

Vegas Golden Knights goalie Robin Lehner became the first player to opt out earlier this week.

“We have concerns, and we’ve expressed those to the players’ association,” Bettman said. “We’ve seen that a number of players are now expressing concerns. We’ll have to see how this ultimately plays out.”

Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league could pull out of the Olympics at any point because of COVID-19, but Jan. 10 is the deadline to nix the plan without financial penalty.


PENGUINS 4, CAPITALS 2: Danton Heinen, Brock McGinn and Kasperi Kapanen scored, Sidney Crosby had two assists and Pittsburgh held on to win in Washington.


The Penguins controlled the play for the first two periods, tilting the ice toward opposing goaltender Ilya Samsonov and sending several odd-man rushes his way. They cashed in on one of them when Crosby set up Kapanen to make it 3-0 midway through the second.

RANGERS 2, SABRES 1:  Alexandar Georgiev stopped 36 shots and New York extended one of the best starts in team history with a win in Buffalo, New York.

The Rangers hung on for the victory after a video review determined Buffalo defenseman Rasmus Dahlin was offside to negate Victor Olofsson’s goal with 57 seconds remaining.

PREDATORS 3, DEVILS 2: Juuse Saros made 29 saves and Nashville won in Newark, New Jersey.

The start was Saros’ first after missing the last two games with an undisclosed illness that the team stressed was not COVID-19. Roman Josi and Eeli Tolvanen scored in the second period, and Yakov Trenin added a goal in the third for Nashville, which has won four straight.

New Jersey has lost five of seven, and seven of 10 overall. Mackenzie Blackwood stopped 24 shots, and Pavel Zacha and Yegor Sharangovich scored for the Devils. The Devils outshot Nashville 31-27.

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