IIHF president Rene Fasel says one of the keys to NHL participation in the 2018 Olympics — covering the travel costs for players — is no longer an issue.
“At the end I think we can balance the numbers and the figures,” Fasel told media Monday, according to ProHockeyTalk audio. “It’s not any more a financial issue.”
Still, Fasel repeated that he believes it’s a 50-50 shot that the NHL takes its usual break and sends players to the Olympics, as it has done at the last five Winter Games. The NHL, which didn’t decide on 2014 Olympic participation until July 2013, is expected to decide by January on Pyeongchang 2018.
The NHL is unhappy that the International Olympic Committee is not willing to pay some of the travel costs for NHL players to play at the Winter Games, as it has at previous Olympics. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in May that the travel costs issue would have “significant impact” on the NHL’s decision.
Fasel said the IIHF and the IOC split travel costs for the Sochi Olympics.
The IIHF, the NHL as well as representatives from USA Hockey and Hockey Canada are meeting in New York on Wednesday as the NHL continues to deliberate.
Fasel said he’s going into Wednesday’s meeting with a goal “to get the players and the NHL to decide to go to Korea.”
“We found, more or less, the money to finance it, the transportation and insurance, and we will see,” Fasel said on TSN radio, adding to CBC, “We have the money to pay the transportation and the insurance cost, so I really hope that we can really focus on the different, other issues.”
Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin has repeated he plans to play in the 2018 Olympics regardless of if he has the NHL’s blessing. Capitals owner Ted Leonsis has supported Ovechkin’s stance.
Could other players follow Ovechkin’s lead?
“Could be,” Fasel said. “Knowing Alexander, Ovi is the kind of person, and I would not be surprised that the owner would let him go, but I don’t think that the league would be happy.”Follow @nzaccardi