Wednesday December 22, 2021
Draisaitl and Co stay at home
NHL bans their superstars from playing the Olympics
The decision has long since been made, but now it is clear: no player from the world’s most important ice hockey league will take part in the Olympic Games in Beijing. For the German team this means the failure of superstar Leon Draisaitl. But the DEB selection could benefit.
The Olympic Winter Games in Beijing will take place without the ice hockey professionals from the North American NHL. As the world association IIHF announced, both the league and the players’ association informed about it. As in 2018, the German team will have to do without its star Leon Draisaitl. The US decision falls back on the Corona crisis, due to which the NHL had to postpone 50 games and the Christmas break had to start two days earlier than planned. The Beijing Games will be held from February 4th to 20th.
“It is good to have a final decision now to advance all of our plans for the team. Of course it is a shame for our Germans in the NHL because they really wanted to be at the Olympics,” said national coach Toni Söderholm. For World Association President Luc Tardif it was “a shock how Covid-19 affected the NHL game plan practically overnight”.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman regretted the league not allowing players to join its national teams: “We appreciate the efforts of the International Olympic Committee, the International Ice Hockey Federation and the Beijing Organizing Committee to welcome NHL players, but we appreciate the current efforts Circumstances made it impossible for us to continue despite our best efforts. ” In the NHL break planned for the Olympic participation from February 6 to 22, catch-up dates would now be set.
Draisaitl would have liked to play at the Olympics. “It’s a shame that the NHL players won’t travel to the Olympic Games. I would have loved to have been on the ice for Germany there. An Olympic tournament with the best players in the world would have been something special,” said the 26- Year olds. But he is sure that the national team will play a very good tournament again even without NHL players. “She has already done that impressively at the last World Championships as well as at the last Olympic Games,” he said. “In any case, I wish the guys every success and will keep my fingers crossed for them.”
Draisaitl has to wait on
In view of the precarious situation in the pandemic, games in the NHL had come to a standstill in recent days. Initially, individual teams were taken out of play due to corona outbreaks, then several games were canceled every day and, finally, travel by US teams to Canada and vice versa was prohibited as a precautionary measure. So the pressure grew to maintain the additional break from playing in the Olympic Games in February.
A number of players had also already expressed their concern about the measures in China in the event of an infection. Initially, there was even a quarantine of several weeks in Beijing for the players concerned in this case. “Of course I’m still the type who want to go to the Olympic Games, but we also want to make sure that it is safe for everyone, for all athletes and not just for ice hockey players,” said the currently considered best player in the world Connor McDavid of Draisaitl’s Edmonton Oilers said. The 24-year-old has to wait for his first Olympic participation.
This also applies to NHL top star Draisaitl or world-class keeper Philipp Grubauer from Seattle Kraken, who had been looking forward to the Olympics. “That is the greatest thing you can achieve as an athlete. It applies to us NHL players as well as to other athletes. Nobody thinks otherwise, everyone wants to go to the Olympics,” Draisaitl said. In 2018, like the other German NHL cracks, he was only able to follow the sensational German silver medal under national coach Marco Sturm from a distance.
German team could benefit
In Pyeongchang, the NHL refused to interrupt the season for the Winter Games for the first time since their Olympic debut in Nagano in 1998. The market in South Korea appeared too insignificant. A fatal mistake, as shown above all by the embarrassment of Canada. The motherland of ice hockey was swept off the ice in the semi-finals by Germany in the “game of the century” and partially demonstrated at 3: 4. Actually, this error seemed corrected, but Corona is now again leaving the NHL cracks out. Although Germany also has to do without world class in Draisaitl, Grubauer and the up-and-coming top newcomer Moritz Seider (Detroit) and also has significantly fewer top professionals than other nations outside of the NHL, the new situation should not reduce German chances.
As early as 2018, the German Ice Hockey Federation benefited from the absence of many of the world’s best players. Sturm’s successor Toni Söderholm finally established the German team in the extended world elite and had also been planning two-pronged plans for some time: “Once with and once without the NHL player,” the Finn recently reported. “If plan A doesn’t work, there is plan B.”
It is doubtful whether all nations have been planning with two cadres for a long time. Ex-national coach Sturm was already exulting. “Regardless of whether it’s a Russian or Canadian team, I don’t see anyone who is significantly better than us,” said the current assistant coach of the Los Angeles Kings of the “Augsburger Allgemeine”. “Without the NHL players, anything would be possible again in a tournament like this.”