NHL in favor of allowing Russian and Belarussian athletes the opportunity to play in the 2024 World Cup of Hockey

In contrast to the IOC and IIHF bans on Russian and Belarussian athletes due to the war in Ukraine, the NHL would like to give the nations’ hockey players a chance to compete in one of the biggest tournaments of the year.

Jul 7, 2022; Montreal, Quebec, CANADA; NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speaks during the first round of the 2022 NHL Draft at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 7, 2022; Montreal, Quebec, CANADA; NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speaks during the first round of the 2022 NHL Draft at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Athletic organizations around the world have banned Russian athletes from international competition due to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine last spring. One of those organizations is the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) who banned the Russian national hockey team.

As it stands, the IIHF has banned both Russian and Belarussian athletes due to the ongoing war in Ukraine as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has recommended. Because the National Hockey League (NHL) does not share the same opinion as the IIHF and IOC, Russian and Belarussian players are able to continue to play in the NHL.

The World Cup of Hockey is organized by the NHL and the NHL Players Association, but the IIHF has said in the past that it would like to get involved in the event. With clashing views on the ban, it is unclear if the NHL will partner with the IIHF for the World Cup.

NHL Deputy Commissioner, Bill Daly shared the NHL would very much like to allow Russian players the opportunity to be involved in the World Cup and has proposed the idea of holding mini-qualifiers for the 2024 tournament with the aim to include more countries in the tournament moving forward.

Jul 8, 2022; Montreal, Quebec, CANADA; NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly in the second round of the 2022 NHL Draft at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 8, 2022; Montreal, Quebec, CANADA; NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly in the second round of the 2022 NHL Draft at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Daly spoke to ESPN saying, “Certainly, we’d like that and I think our Russian players would like that. So we would certainly like to accommodate them in some credible way.”

With the World Cup of Hockey slated to be played in the middle of the 2023-2024 NHL season, it remains to be seen if those Russian and Belarussian players who play for any one of the 32 NHL teams, as well as players from any other nations, will be able to play in the World Cup of Hockey in 2024.

While no agreement has been made between the IIHF and the NHL in regards to the 2024 tournament, hopefully a deal would mean that the best in the world are competing in the biggest hockey competitions instead of having to bail out due to the overlapping of the NHL season with the tournament as many athletes have had to do for Winter Olympics and IHHF World Championships in the past.