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IIHF meets to review Olympic eligibility of Chinese players

nhl olympics

A member of Beijing Arcfox takes part in an ice hockey training session during a 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games test event, at the National Indoor Stadium in Beijing on November 11, 2021. (Photo by WANG Zhao / AFP) (Photo by WANG ZHAO/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

The International Ice Hockey Federation council held a call Friday to review the Olympic eligibility of Chinese men’s national team players, though no decisions were made about the host country’s status for the upcoming tournament in Beijing,

Officials are set to review information from the Chinese Ice Hockey Association about players on the host country’s potential player list. Another meeting is scheduled for Dec. 6.

Several players on China’s national team are North Americans who moved to play for a Chinese-owned club in the Kontinental Hockey League in an attempt to naturalize and gain Olympic eligibility. But the pandemic-forced move of KHL club Kunlun Red Star out of China and to Moscow adds a layer of uncertainty about whether players meet the eligibility standard.

Kunlun played two so-called test games against KHL opponents in mid-November with IIHF officials watching closely to determine the level of competitiveness. Players’ performances in a 5-4 overtime loss and a 4-1 defeat were apparently enough to satisfy concerns about how they’ll handle NHL competition in Beijing, making eligibility the only hurdle to China remaining in the Olympics.

In other possible Olympic news, Canada named Claude Julien coach for two international tournaments coming up in December: the Channel One Cup and the Spengler Cup. Former Arizona Coyotes captain Shane Doan was named general manager, with Bruce Boudreau and Scott Walker set to serve as Julien’s assistants.

The Channel One and Spengler Cup staffs are significant because they would take over Olympic roles if the NHL and NHL Players’ Association withdraw before the Jan. 10 deadline.