A big meeting is reportedly planned for tomorrow in New York, where IOC president Thomas Bach and IIHF president Rene Fasel will discuss Olympic participation with the NHL and NHLPA.
According to Sportsnet’s John Shannon, it will be the first time there has been “direct contact” between the NHL/NHLPA and IOC about the 2018 Games in South Korea. To date, the IIHF has played the “middle man” in negotiations, says Shannon.
Oh, to be a fly on the wall when Bach and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman exchange views.
This past weekend in Los Angeles, Bettman took direct aim at the IOC, blaming it for opening a “whole can of worms” when it said it would no longer cover out-of-pocket expenses for NHLers to go to South Korea.
“What I think has happened…you know, there were probably some owners over time who always thought the Olympics were a good idea, there were some owners who always hated it,” said Bettman, “and there were probably a bunch of clubs that really didn’t give it much thought until the IOC said we weren’t going to pay the expenses. And then I think it caused a number of clubs to say, ‘Well, wait a minute, if that’s how they value our participation, why are we knocking ourselves out?’”
For those still hoping a deal can be struck, and that includes the players, it’s at least promising that a meeting is taking place. If the NHL really didn’t want to participate anymore, it could’ve just said no already.
The clock is certainly ticking, though. One deadline has already passed without consequence. If an agreement isn’t struck soon, time will run out for real.