Connor McDavid is excited for the opportunity to play for gold for Canada at the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
“The Olympics are so important to me because it’s the biggest stage in sport … as an elite athlete you want to perform on the biggest stage,” the Edmonton Oilers center told the Edmonton Journal on Tuesday. “The Stanley Cup and the Olympics are pretty close to equal. A Stanley Cup is certainly at the top of the list and an Olympic gold medal would maybe be a 1b, if you can call it that. A gold would be unbelievable.”
McDavid’s comments came four days after the NHL and NHL Players’ Association announced that they had reached an agreement with the International Ice Hockey Federation to confirm a break in the 2021-22 NHL regular-season schedule to accommodate the participation of NHL players at Beijing.
It will be the first Olympics for NHL players since 2014 in Sochi and the first best-on-best international tournament since the World Cup of Hockey 2016 in Toronto.
“We understand how passionately NHL players feel about representing and competing for their countries,” NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said Sept. 3. “We are very pleased that we were able to conclude arrangements that will allow them to resume best-on-best competition on the Olympic stage.”
For McDavid, who won the Hart Trophy unanimously voted as the most valuable player in the NHL last season after he led the League with 105 points (33 goals, 72 assists), this will be his first chance to play in the Olympics.
He was playing for Erie of the Ontario Hockey League during the 2014 Sochi Olympics, and the NHL did not send its players to the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, so despite the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and the lengthening of the season, McDavid said he is ready to play regardless of circumstances.
“I’m going to the Olympics and I want to win a gold medal, and if it is that way (ultra-strict), so be it,” he said. “If I have to stay in my room, that’s the way it is.”
The 2021-22 NHL season will break from Feb. 3-22 for the 2022 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and the Olympic men’s hockey tournament, which culminates with the gold medal game Feb. 20.
Since the Czech Republic won gold at the 1998 Nagano Olympics, the first to feature NHL players, Canada has dominated best-on-best competition, winning five of the past six tournaments: the World Cup in 2004 and 2016, and the Olympics at Salt Lake City in 2002, Vancouver in 2010 and Sochi in 2014. Sweden won gold at the 2006 Torino Olympics.