Fans eager to see National Hockey League players competing in the Sochi 2014 men’s hockey tournament may be closer to having their wish granted.
After representatives of both the NHL and International Ice Hockey Federation met with the International Olympic Committee and Sochi’s local organizing committees this week in Russia, the IIHF and NHL sound optimistic that a deal will be struck to send NHLers overseas next winter.
“This was a very good couple days of site visits of the Olympic venues and infrastructure, followed by some good discussions with the NHL representatives,” IIHF president René Fasel wrote to sportsnet.ca. “I remain optimistic about the NHL’s participation in Sochi and I hope that we can come to an agreement latest beginning of May, which would be good for the teams as to which players to select for the World Championships.
“It must be said that many challenges remain and that this is more than just an IIHF-NHL issue. We have also the IOC, the NHLPA, the Sochi organizers, the National Olympic Committees and the national ice hockey associations. There lots of co-ordinating to be done.”
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly was part of the contingent who went to visit Sochi.
“I would hope to be in a position where this is resolved one way or the other by the end of this month,” Daly told NHL.com on Saturday.
Since NHLers began participating in the Winter Olympics in 1998 in Nagano, Japan, the league has suspended its schedule midseason – and cancelled the revenue-generating All-Star Game – to accommodate the international competition.
According to Sportsnet’s sources, there are no further meetings scheduled as yet but Hockey Central insider John Shannon has been told that only minor issues have yet to be resolved and that a deal could be completed soon.