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AP

Gary Bettman quashes renewed Olympic hope in talk with IIHF boss

IIHF president René Fasel and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman reportedly spoke Tuesday about possible NHL Olympic participation in PyeongChang.

They did not get very far.

“[Bettman] told me again, René the decision is we will not go,” Fasel said, according to TSN’s Darren Dreger. “Only death is final, but Gary was very clear yesterday when he said we’re not going, so what can I do?”

Renewed hope that the NHL could participate in a sixth straight Olympics sprang last weekend, when Fasel was reported in German media saying he was talking with the NHL about possible Olympic participation and set a July deadline.

The IIHF later denied talks with the NHL. Fasel clarified that he meant the NHL Players’ Association in a news conference Tuesday, according to the Canadian Press.

With Fasel making no ground, the IIHF boss is resting hopes on the NHLPA.

“The players are the ones to go,” Fasel said, according to Dreger. “They have to make an important step here.”

The NHL said in an April 3 statement that it intended to proceed without taking an Olympic break in 2018 and considered the matter “officially closed.” That would snap a streak of five straight Winter Olympics with NHL participation starting in 1998.

The NHL previously asked for concessions (mostly financially driven) from the IOC, IIHF or the NHLPA to entice NHL owners and officials to take a break in its season to accommodate the Olympics for a sixth straight time.

Bettman followed up on April 21 by saying it’s too late for the league to change its mind, even if a new, sweetened deal is offered by the IOC, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Looking at Tuesday’s comments, Bettman isn’t budging from that stance.

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