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NHL, IIHF, IOC discuss 2018 Olympics

Sides have 'good, open discussion' on PyeongChang, but no decision made or deadline set

by Shawn P. Roarke @sroarke_nhl / Director of Editorial

NEW YORK -- Discussions about the participation of NHL players in the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics continued Friday with the inclusion of Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee.

Bach joined NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, NHL Players' Association executive director Donald Fehr, and IIHF president Rene Fasel for an hour-long meeting at the NHL offices here.

No negotiations about Olympic participation took place during the meeting, according to several participants.

"We were honored by [Bach's] presence, that he took the time to come and visit with us, but as the president said, this was a courtesy call," Commissioner Bettman said. "We had a good, open discussion. But I think if anybody was speculating that decisions were going to be made today, that was premature and that was not the purpose of the meeting."

Bach, who is based at IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, described the conversation as constructive.

"This was a courtesy meeting and it was a very good one and I can tell you that the atmosphere inside the meeting room was much warmer than the weather outside here," Bach said standing on the sidewalk on a 34-degree afternoon. "We had a really fruitful and good meeting.

"This was not a negotiation meeting. This was a courtesy meeting where we were exchanging different views. This is progress in itself, so that we now understand each other much better. I'm grateful for the openness, the frankness and the friendliness of the NHL, of Gary and also of the NHLPA."

Fehr said discussions are expected to continue.

"It's always good to meet, it's always good to talk, it's always good to have the decision-makers in direct communication," Fehr said. "From the players' standpoint, if appropriate agreements can be reached, they obviously want to go. These discussions, I expect, will continue and we'll see what happens."

No deadline has been set for a decision to be made.

"We would like to have [a decision] as soon as possible so that we can make all the preparations to accommodate the NHL and the players in the most appropriate way," Bach said. "But again, this was not a round of negotiations. The last thing you would do in a courtesy call is speak about deadlines."

Last week at the NHL All-Star Game, Deputy Commissioner Daly said the League could decide not to participate in the 2018 Games in South Korea.

"If the status quo remains, I don't expect us to be in the Olympics," he said in Los Angeles.

On Friday, Commissioner Bettman said the impact the 2018 Olympics will have on the 2017-18 NHL schedule remains the primary stumbling block.

"I think people are focused on the Olympics and whether or not we like the Olympics," Commissioner Bettman said. "The focus from the club standpoint is, what does the disruption to our season mean and how do we deal with it and how problematic has it become?

"It's particularly been highlighted this year with some dissatisfaction with the schedule, which was a combination of, to some extent, the [World Cup of Hockey 2016] and, to some extent, the five-day breaks that the Players' Association insisted on. So the clubs are very concerned about the competitiveness of our season, the health and well-being of our players, whether or not there is fatigue. From our standpoint, we are very focused on the disruption to the NHL season."

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