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NHL, Olympic negotiations continue

League reportedly willing to participate in 2018 Games in exchange for CBA extension

by Shawn P. Roarke @sroarke_nhl / NHL.com Director of Editorial

NEW YORK -- Negotiations for the participation of NHL players in the 2018 PyeonChang Olympics continued Wednesday with a meeting at the League's office.

"The meeting progressed as I anticipated it would progress today," NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said. "We got a lot of information from the IIHF and from their representatives. We asked a lot of questions. We all have work to do with our constituents in terms of next steps and like Don [Fehr, executive director of the NHL Players' Association] said, we are in constant touch, so I expect that is how we will continue."

The morning meeting included representatives of the NHL, NHLPA and IIHF, as well as Hockey Canada and USA Hockey, and lasted into the afternoon.

Following the meeting, Fehr acknowledged a report by Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet that said that in exchange for the League's willingness to go to the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, the NHLPA would agree to extend the collective bargaining agreement for an undetermined length of time.

"There have been some suggestions that could be construed that that discussion would be worth having," Fehr said. "Obviously, we discuss that with players; we've begun that process, but we are a long way from done."

The current CBA between the League and its players expires Sept. 15, 2022. Each side has an opt-out option that can be triggered in 2020.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said Monday that a decision would need to be made about the League's participation in the Olympics by January.

IIHF president Rene Fasel said Wednesday that progress was made but much more remains to be done.

"It's not a big progress, but we will get there," Fasel said. "I'm working very hard and we will see. It's not easy. I expected it to be a little bit more easy, but still, I am confident."

Commissioner Bettman said there are several challenges the NHL has in determining if it should shut down the 2017-18 season for more than two weeks in February to send players to the Olympics for a sixth consecutive time.

Chief among those barriers is the approximately $10 million in insurance, travel and accommodation costs for the players and their guests.

The International Olympic Committee has covered those costs for the past five Olympics but has indicated to the NHL and the IIHF that it will not cover them this time. Fasel reiterated Wednesday that he has come up with the money to cover the costs.

Each side said Wednesday that negotiations would continue and that face-to-face meetings would happen when necessary.

"I have to do my homework and there are some questions where we have to go back and see," Fasel said. "We will do everything possible to make this possible."

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