Representatives from the National Hockey League, led by Commissioner Gary Bettman, completed two days of meetings Friday with members of the NHL Players' Association, International Ice Hockey Federation and International Olympic Committee on the subject of NHL player participation in the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Bettman and IIHF President Rene Fasel said the meetings were positive, but also noted there is more work to be done.
"I would say I think the meetings and the discussions were productive, but there are a lot of things that still have to be worked out on both ends," Bettman said. "Ultimately, the IOC, the NHL Players and the Board of Governors are going to have to approve what we get done, but we're working on it."
Added Fasel: "We put everything on the table. It is not an easy operation logistically to bring the players over. I fully agree with Gary and I fully support Gary on this operation. The players are very important. We also discussed some other issues. Once again, it is not an easy operation, but it was very constructive. We put everything on the table. I'm confident, but still we have to work on each side -- the NHL side, the PA side and our side."
Bettman was joined by NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, NHL Chief Operating Officer John Collins and members of the NHL's Events Department in the meetings. Bob Nicholson, who is the IIHF Vice President and the president of Hockey Canada, and General Secretary of the IIHF Horst Lichtner were also in attendance.
Richard Carrion, a member of the IOC, joined the meeting Thursday night. Representatives of the NHL Players' Association, led by Executive Director Don Fehr, participated in the meetings via telephone.
"I think it is fair to say that if this can be worked out to everybody's satisfaction, we'd all like to have NHL players at the Olympics," Bettman said. "To go through chronicling issue by issue isn't going to serve anybody's purpose and probably isn't all that interesting. I think, most importantly, hockey fans that like and love the Olympics would like to see us get this done, and that's what we're going to be focused on."
Fasel said there isn't a deadline for a decision from his side, but did note having one before the 2013 IIHF World Championship, which takes place in May, would be ideal. Bettman said the impetus to have a decision finalized for the NHL is based on needing time to create the schedule for the 2013-14 season.
Bettman also said all parties involved in the discussions have some internal work to do before the next meeting date is set.
NHL players have participated in the Winter Olympics since 1998.
"I don't want to prognosticate. We're all trying to get to the same place, but there is work as Rene said to get done," Bettman said.
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