Weariness over COVID-19 growing, but players still want to participate in Olympics

On this edition of 32 Thoughts, Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek joined Ron MacLean to discuss a sought merger between the Fenway Sports Group and MLSE, the latest on a possible Nordiques return to Quebec & how COVID-19 is impacting the Olympics.

With concerns over COVID-19 growing around the NHL, the league’s participation in the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics is coming under a more intense spotlight, though it is still too early to determine whether the impact of the pandemic will lead to a withdrawal from the Games.

“The teams and the League — the weariness is growing,” Sportsnet’s Friedman said during the 32 Thoughts segment on Hockey Night in Canada. “There’s worry about the amount of cases and the fact we are heading into the winter. There are also people worried about a three-week quarantine if you test positive over there and players being shut down for that.”

The New York Islanders currently have six players in COVID-19 protocol. The Ottawa Senators had as many as 10 players in COVID-19 protocol, which led to the NHL postponing three of their games, the first time this season such a measure was taken. The San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues have both been rocked by the virus this season, too.

Despite the growing weariness this has led to around the league, NHL players remain steadfast in their desire to compete in the upcoming Olympic Games.

“The bottom line is the players still want to go,” Friedman said. “They’ve made it very clear that they still want to go. I don’t think three games being postponed and rescheduled is going to be enough to change it. But it’s clear this is a developing story for a lot of reasons.”

While protocols for transporting players from North America to Beijing are still being worked on, that hasn’t appeared to dampen the desire of players to participate either.

“I’m preparing like we’re going,” Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said on Saturday after his team’s win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. “I think that’s the best way to kind of look at it.”

The Men’s Olympic Ice Hockey competition begins on Feb. 9, 2022.

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.