IOC says Jan. 15 is the deadline for agreement to send NHLers to Olympics

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A drop-dead date has apparently been set to reach an agreement to send NHLers to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

“When it comes to the final participation … there is a date set at Jan. 15 to find an agreement,” the IOC’s Christophe Dubi said, per the Associated Press. “Until then it will be work between all parties involved to make sure that we get the participation of the very best, and that’s for both Pyeongchang and Beijing (in 2022).”

The IOC’s decision to no longer cover expenses like travel and insurance is the biggest impediment to an agreement.

“I’m pretty sure that our teams are not really interested in paying for the privilege of disrupting our season,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has said.

And even if there’s a solution to the costs issue, there’s no guarantee an agreement will get reached. Even when costs were covered, NHL owners weren’t all that keen about Olympic participation.

That being said, according to the AP story, the NHL has agreed to visit South Korea later this month for an inspection.

Which begs the question: if the league were dead set against further Olympic participation, would it bother to inspect the next host country?

Related: Alex Ovechkin vows to play in the Olympics, even if NHL doesn’t participate