NEW YORK -- National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman said that a five-plus hour meeting Monday regarding potential participation in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia was constructive, but there is still work to be done before an agreement can be completed to send NHL players to a fifth straight Olympics.
"Soon, very soon," Commissioner Bettman said when asked for a timeline to complete the agreement.
Commissioner Bettman and NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly met with representatives from the National Hockey League Players' Association and the International Ice Hockey Federation at the League's office. NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr and IIHF President Rene Fasel flanked Commissioner Bettman when he spoke to the media following the meeting.
"There are still some I's to dot and T's to cross," Commissioner Bettman said. "Rene has to report back to the IOC [International Olympic Committee], Don has a meeting with his executive board beginning next week. So while we're on track and things are moving along, I think it's fair to say we're not quite ready to announce it's done."
The NHLPA Executive Board is scheduled to meet in Chicago from July 8-10. Fasel is expected to take his report on the negotiations to the IOC and other national federations this week. Commissioner Bettman has been granted permission by the NHL Board of Governors to make a deal on Olympic participation without further Board approval.
"We're on a compact schedule and everybody is working very hard," Commissioner Bettman said. "We seem to be pulling the oars in the same direction."
Fehr and Fasel echoed those sentiments.
"Certainly from my end, while we have made a lot of progress on a lot of issues, there are a few I dots and T crosses to do yet," Fehr said. "We have to turn it into final written documents and I do have to go back to my executive board as indicated, but things are moving along."
Fasel said he was "very happy and pleased" at the progress that was made in the meeting Monday.
"I'm confident that we will have a solution at the end," he said.