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NHL moving closer to Olympic participation

by Dan Rosen

The National Hockey League moved closer to an agreement to send its players to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia during a meeting in Stockholm on Friday. The meeting included representatives from the NHL, National Hockey League Players' Association, International Olympic Committee, Sochi2014 Organizing Committee, National Olympic Committees, International Ice Hockey Federation and IIHF Member National Associations.

"We are proceeding under the assumption that the NHL will participate in Sochi," NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said, according to "We are still working on important issues with the IIHF and the IOC, and subject to [NHL] Board of Governors consideration and approval. It remains the objective that Sochi will be the fifth consecutive Olympics with NHL participation and where the NHL shuts down for the duration of the Olympic tournament."

Daly told on Thursday that he thinks an announcement could be made sometime between now and the end of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"We are working hard to putting together the last pieces to ensure NHL players' participation in Sochi," IIHF President Rene Fasel said. "We have some issues left but I, as always, remain optimistic."

According to the report, Daly outlined the NHL's planned logistical schedule for the Olympics should an agreement be reached.

Daly said the League's schedule would go into recess after games played Feb. 8, 2014 and wouldn't resume until Feb. 25, two days after the gold-medal game. NHL players participating in the Olympics would arrive in Sochi no later than Feb. 10. The first full practice day at the Olympics would be Feb. 11, and the tournament is scheduled to open Feb. 12.

"There is obviously a risk involved when you bring over a projected 160 to 180 NHL players, where the total contract value would be around $3 billion dollars," Daly said. "This is a risk which must be insured, especially in cases of season-ending or career-ending injuries."

The IIHF reported that team rosters can include up to 22 skaters and three goalies. That's an increase of two skaters from previous Olympic tournaments.

According to IIHF Sports Director Dave Fitzpatrick, the participating countries will be requested to announce their tentative rosters at least six weeks before the start of the Olympics. The schedules for the men's and women's tournaments will be announced in late May, according to the IIHF.

"Hopefully sometime soon we will be able to give the recommendation to our Board of Governors regarding our League's Olympic participation," Daly said.


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