The NHL made it official Monday that the league won’t be sending its talent to Pyeongchang, South Korea for the 2018 Olympic Games, ending a year-long period of speculation and negotiation that ultimately led nowhere.
The fans are the ones who suffer most by the NHL being absent from the most-watched international sporting event on the planet, but the players have a price to pay too, as many will miss out on the chance to represent their countries one last time.
Detroit Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg has laced them up for Sweden in each of the past four Olympic Game but, at the age of 36 he likely won’t be making a fifth appearance for the Swedes. He had six points for the 2006 gold medal-winning team, but his Olympic career ended on a tough note as the Swedish captain played only one game in Sochi because of a herniated disk in his back.
It’s really hard to ever doubt Jaromir Jagr, but playing in a sixth Olympic Games (a would-be record for an NHL player) seems as close to impossible as you can get. The 45-year-old has done everything imaginable over 26 illustrious seasons, and he’s done it all on the Olympic stage, too—winning a gold medal with the Czech Republic in the first NHL-involved games at Nagano 1998.
Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara has been a staple on Boston’s physical blueline the past 11 seasons, and he’s been a constant with the Slovakian Olympic team for just as long. Competing with the Slovaks in the past three games in Torino, Vancouver and Sochi, the 40-year-old is unlikely to get a fourth chance to add an Olympic medal to his 2011 Stanley Cup.
Henrik and Daniel Sedin
Daniel and Henrik Sedin have skated next to each others basically every minute in their NHL careers, but they also got the chance to do it on the international stage while winning gold in 2006. As the pair enter the twilight of their NHL careers, there’s little chance the 36-year-olds will get an opportunity to avenge a second-place finish in 2014.
New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist has been Sweden’s starter the past three Games, posting a .926 save percentage over his past 15 decisions in Olympic competition. Though goaltenders rarely play into their 40s, the 36-year-old Lundqvist is still a long shot to represent Sweden in some capacity in 2022 due to a lack of depth at the goaltending position for the Swedes.
Chicago Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa has put up over 1,100 points in more than 1,300 NHL games and has been just as consistent for the Slovakian national team during the past four Olympics, posting 12 goals and 24 points in 19 tournament games. The 38-year-old is likely in his last season or two in the NHL and probably won’t be a factor for the Slovaks at Beijing 2022.