For the first time since 1960, all hockey matches took place on the same rink. These matches were played in Méribel, a ski resort some 25 km south of Albertville. Once again, the tournament consisted of 12 teams separated into two six-team pools, which played a series of round-robin matches. But for the first time, the top four teams in each pool advanced to a single-elimination tournament to decide the medals. Thus eight teams competed in the quarter-finals, with the winners advancing in each round. A special game for the bronze medal was played between the losers of the semi-finals, Czechoslovakia and the United States. The tournament was notable for the titular absence of the Soviet Union, which had dominated Olympic ice hockey since 1956. After the break-up of the Soviet Union, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) was represented at the 1992 Winter Olympics by a loose conglomeration of several of the former Soviet republics, termed the Unified Team. They still won the gold medal.
Also noteworthy was that NHL players were allowed to compete, as in 1988. Although the NHL did not close down shop for the two weeks of the Winter Olympics, several NHL players did compete, unlike in Calgary.