Report: Agreement to send NHL players to Sochi Olympics is close

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It seems more and more like National Hockey League players will be competing in the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

But, still, nothing official. Not yet, anyway.

“Hopefully within the next couple of weeks we’ll have a formal agreement done,” Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson told Sportsnet.ca.

“We certainly have our sights that the NHL players will be there, but we still have to get that done with the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association.

“I can tell you that in all the meetings I’ve been in with those parties, the (International Ice Hockey Federation ), the (International Olympic Committee)– everyone wants it. Now we’re just trying to cross all the t’s and dot the i’s.”

Players from the NHL have competed in the past four Winter Olympics, with Canada taking the gold medal in the last competition, back in Vancouver in 2010.

The process of bringing NHLers to the 2014 Games has been an ongoing process since the lockout ended in January.

Last month, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly sounded positive that the league’s players would be in Sochi, while negotiations continued.

“We are proceeding under the assumption that the NHL will participate in Sochi,” Daly said back in May.

“We are still working on important issues with the IIHF and the IOC, and subject to our board of governors’ consideration and approval, 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.”

The four parties to take part in the negotiations have been the International Olympic Committee, International Ice Hockey Federation, NHL, and NHL Players’ Association.