After months of negotiations, it seems like talks between the NHL, NHLPA, IIHF, IOC, and the rest of the alphabet are finally coming to a close, with the likely conclusion that the pros will be welcome to play in the Olympics this February.
“We are proceeding under the assumption that the NHL will participate in Sochi,” NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told IIHF.com Friday.
Daly added that the participating bodies are still ironing out details, but “it remains the objective that Sochi will be the fifth consecutive Olympics with NHL participation and where the NHL shuts down for the duration of the Olympic tournament.”
Said details being negotiated include issues regarding media rights, access, and accommodations at the Games, as well as concerns about who would cover the costs to insure the athletes on the ice.
“There is obviously a risk involved when you bring over a projected 160-180 NHL players, where the total contract value would be around $3 billion,” Daly suggested. “This is a risk which must be insured, especially in cases of season-ending or career-ending injuries.”
The NHL is expected to break for a little more than two weeks starting Feb. 8. Players will then fly charters to Sochi in time for a practice day before the tournament begins on Feb. 12, and then NHL games would be scheduled to resume on Feb. 25, two days after the gold medal game in Russia.
The Russian Hockey Federation is expected to make the official announcement after the hockey world championships end May 19, according to Dmitry Chesnokov of Yahoo! Sports.