NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and IIHF president Rene Fasel have never been the best of friends. Fasel has been outspoken in the past concerning the lack of NHL superstars who attend the annual World Championships upsetting Bettman in the process.
When it comes to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Fasel has been a bit more easy going concerning the up-in-the-air status of whether or not the NHL will allow its players to attend the games. As Chris Johnston of The Canadian Press finds out, Fasel and the IIHF are happy to wait for the NHL and Bettman to come to them.
“I’ve always said our door is wide open,” Fasel said Sunday. “That’s in their hands. Our door is wide, wide open. That’s their decision to make, if they want to come or not.”
Olympic ice hockey is much more interesting (and lucrative) at the Games when the pros are involved and those in Sochi are champing at the bit to have Evgeni Malkin, Alex Ovechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk, and Pavel Datsyuk among others to represent their country.
The problem for the NHL, however, is taking two to three weeks off mid-season and having the games played at unfriendly TV times in North America (Sochi is eight hours ahead of the Eastern time zone). NHL participation in the Olympics will be discussed during the CBA negotiations this summer as the players want to go but the owners and league are a touch reluctant. Good thing Fasel says the IIHF is patient.