The NHL, NHLPA, IOC, and IIHF are coming to the table again this week to discuss whether the pros will be playing in Sochi next February. A decision seems imminent with the Games approaching, but NHL commissioner Gary Bettman says no deal will be done until everyone is satisfied.
“We’ve got to get to it sooner rather than later,” Bettman told the Associated Press, “because doing next year’s schedule is obviously impacted by whether or not we go to the Olympics.”
On top of the already stated issues of media rights, access, and accommodations at the Games, the NHL and NHLPA are concerned about who will pay for the insurance to cover the athletes on the ice.
NHLPA special assistant Mathieu Schneider has dubbed the situation a “logistical nightmare,” but still thinks the deal will get done, though most assume it will take another month or so.
“If it’s done properly, it could be an amazing hockey experience for everyone,” Schneider added. “Obviously the players want to go. The guys want to be there. That’s no secret.”
On top of the Olympics, the sides will also discuss creating a Champions League style tournament where the best teams from all the top leagues – NHL, KHL, OHL, etc. – compete for the world title, and bringing back the World Cup of Hockey, which was discontinued back in 2004. So hockey now wants to be soccer. Joy.