There is still no decision or agreement about whether NHL players will participate in the 2018 Olympics, but the Jan. 15 deadline set forward by the IOC is approaching.
While the IOC has decided not to pay for the transportation and insurance cost of NHL players participating in the Olympics, which has become one of the contentious issues in this whole process, IIHF president René Fasel told reporters that he had spoken with the Russian Olympic Committee and was told the committee would pay for the travel and insurance costs of Russia’s players if necessary.
Meetings between the league and the IIHF are expected for this week.
League officials will meet with the International Ice Hockey Federation in New York on Wednesday. Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the NHL hopes to learn if any traction has been made between the IIHF and the International Olympic Committee with regard to potential sticking points for participation at the Games in South Korea
When it comes to NHL participation in the Olympics, Fasel believes it’s a “50-50” chance right now.
“At the end, it’s also a political decision and, you know, I understand Gary Bettman. It’s not so easy. There are some owners that they say, ‘Listen, to shut down the league for two weeks in February, 2018, it’s not an easy thing to do,'” said Fasel.
“Some players coming back, they are injured, they are out of shape. It’s just before the start of the playoffs — I mean, couple months before the start of the playoffs. If you have a very good player who is injured, I can understand that for some owners, that could be an issue. On the other hand, I think it’s very important for our sport of hockey that the best players are in the Olympics.”
The New York Islanders certainly know about having a star player injured at the Olympics.
The IOC paid his salary during his absence from the Islanders lineup — after that club’s GM Garth Snow sounded off on the IOC and IIHF, saying, “It’s a joke. They want all the benefits from NHL players in Olympics and don’t want to pay when our best player gets hurt.”