Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said Sunday he has concerns about the potential COVID-19 protocols in Beijing and is uncertain whether he will participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Pietrangelo previously was one of three players named to the roster for Team Canada, joining forwards Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid.
“I’ve got four kids that are under the age of 3½. For me to be potentially locked up there for five weeks plus the Olympics, that’s a long time being away from my family,” Pietrangelo said. “I’m not going to make a decision until we get all the answers, because those are kind of hard to come by right now. So, we’re all kind of sitting and waiting.”
The NHL negotiated in the most recent collective bargaining agreement with the NHL Players’ Association to allow players to participate in the 2022 and 2026 Winter Olympics.
Commissioner Gary Bettman said at last week’s Board of Governors meeting in Florida the league also has concerns about Olympic participation, and a decision not to attend would have to come from the NHLPA. There is no deadline for a final decision.
The NHLPA confirmed a report from the Toronto Star that the International Olympic Committee said any athlete with a confirmed positive test for COVID-19 must quarantine for a period of 21 days to five weeks. But the lack of communication regarding the quarantine logistics, such as where it would take place, has jeopardized the NHL’s participation.
Knights goaltender Robin Lehner previously said he opting out of consideration for Team Sweden, citing mental health reasons.
“There’s a lot of guys that are kind of sitting and waiting for answers,” Pietrangelo said. “I think the league and the PA are both looking for answers, too, about how this is all going to play out.
“A lot of the stuff that’s being discussed is out of my control. It’s between governments now and the IOC and all that. We just get information as it comes. We’ll make a decision as a group once we have all the information and we’re just kind of waiting for that information.”
The NHL’s agreement with the players states that any disruption of the regular-season schedule because of COVID-19 postponements could result in the league deciding not to go to the Olympics.
The Ottawa Senators had three games postponed, and the New York Islanders had two postponed because of COVID outbreaks.
If the NHL does not go to Beijing, it’s not clear whether the Olympic break will remain in the schedule. Several NHL arenas have already booked those dates for other events.
“I would expect sooner rather than later we would have answers, because if we’re not going to go or we are going to go, us with families, we have some stuff to plan,” Pietrangelo said. “If we don’t go we’ll probably take a vacation with the kids. I’m just kind of sitting and waiting.”