NHL, IOC in talks over Sochi Winter Olympics

IRA PODELL
Last updated 15:22 15/02/2013

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A decision on whether NHL players will play at the 2014 Sochi Olympics isn't likely this week, but today's first day of discussions went well.

Talks between the NHL, the NHL players' association, and officials from the International Ice Hockey Federation and the International Olympic Committee stretched into the night as the parties worked toward getting NHL players back to the Olympics for a fifth straight time.

There are obstacles in the process, but the sides will get back together tomorrow to talk some more.

"We had good discussions," NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told The Associated Press in an email after talks wrapped up. "We expect to continue tomorrow."

The NHL and the players are weighing up whether it makes sense to interrupt the 2013-14 season, given the current season was severely reduced by a labour dispute.

"I don't expect any resolution or decisions this week," Daly wrote to the AP earlier today.

In these negotiations, the NHL and the players' association appear to be aligned in their position.

The Sochi Games are one year away. While a final decision isn't required this week, one will have to be reached in the near future. It is believed hockey federations will need to know by May what players will be available for their teams.

In return for sending its players to the Sochi Olympics, the NHL is trying to acquire video, photograph and website rights for the games. The IIHF and the IOC retain those exclusive rights now.

The NHL began sending its players to the 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan, and continued through the 2010 Vancouver Games. Even though the NHL received great exposure by having its players take part in an Olympics in North America, disrupting the season does come with a cost.

The stopping of the season, the potential injury risk to players, and no tangible upside for the NHL are all factors that create doubt about whether the investment is good for the league.

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