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Why Sidney Crosby believes NHL’s Olympics decision is twice as nice

Olympics: Ice Hockey-Men's Gold Medal Game
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

TORONTO – Only one thing could make Sidney Crosby happier about NHL players taking part in the 2026 Milan Olympics after missing the previous two Winter Games in 2018 and 2022. And that’s a commitment by the League and its union to have NHL players also take part in the 2030 Olympics.

That’s twice as nice for Crosby, 36, who likely would play for Canada again in 2026 but could be retired by time the 2030 games take place.

“It’s an unbelievable experience to see the best players go head-to-head, representing their country. From my experience, I don’t know if you get better hockey than that,” Crosby said here before the NHL All-Star skills competition Friday. “It’s a special thing. … Especially to commit to two Olympics. I think that’s going to be great.”

Related: How NHL star helped sell Rick Tocchet on massive Elias Lindholm trade to Canucks

NHL commits to have its players participate in 2026, 2030 Winter Olympics

Earlier in the day, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, NHLPA executive director Marty Walsh and IIHF president Luc Tardif announced the joint agreement. NHL players have not participated in the Winter Olympics since 2014 in Sochi. Crosby, who scored “The Golden Goal” in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, helped Canada defeat Sweden for the gold medal in 2014.

NHL players had taken part in five straight Winter Olympics until several issues led them pulling out from the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics. There was no NHL participation in the 2022 Beijing Olympics after the coronavirus pandemic.

“I tried not to get caught up in it too much (decisions about Olympics participation). There’s always a lot of talk leading up to it and when it didn’t happen, you just have to move by it and understand there are a lot of factors,” Crosby explained.

But make no mistake, Crosby would be thrilled to wear the red and white maple leaf on his Canada sweater again in 2026.

“I’d love to,” Crosby said. “I’d love to be a part of it. But it’s something you’ve got to earn, though. It’s not something that’s given to you. To represent your country, you’ve got to earn it.”

While Crosby has been able to play in the Olympics, there’s a generation of NHL stars yet to have that opportunity. That list includes Connor McDavid and Nathan MacKinnon from Canada, and Auston Matthews and Jack Eichel from the United States.

It is not known if NHL players from Russia will be allowed to participate in the 2026 Games.

NHL players from Canada, the United States, Finland and Sweden will take part in a Four Nations Face-Off Tournament in 2025. That will be the first best-on-best international tournament since the World Cup of Hockey in 2016, which was won by Canada.

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