IIHF Encouraged by NHL's Potential Return to Olympics
International Ice Hockey Federation chief Rene' Fasel is encouraged after learning the NHL's pending labour deal opens the possibility of the world's best players returning to the Olympics.
Aside from the uncertainty raised by the coronavirus pandemic, Fasel told The Associated Press he doesn't foresee any major stumbling blocks that could derail negotiations leading up to the 2022 Beijing Games.
``No, I don't think there's a deal-breaker,'' he said Tuesday. ``There are a lot of challenges. But I think in principle, I would say the news that that's in the CBA, for me and especially international hockey, is very good news.''
Fasel spoke a day after the NHL and NHL Players' Association tentatively agreed to extend the collective bargaining agreement for four years, which would run through the 2025-26 season.
The league participated in five consecutive Olympics before skipping the 2018 Games in South Korea.
In order to return, the NHL and its players would first have to resolve various outstanding issues -- including health insurance, travel costs and marketing rights -- with the IIHF and the International Olympic Committee.
Travel costs alone to Pyeongchang two years ago were projected to be $15 million, which the IOC refused to pay. The NHL was also denied control of using Olympic game footage to promote the league and players.
Another concern was weighing the benefits of shutting down the regular season for two weeks only to have Olympic games being played in the early morning hours in North America due to the 14-hour time difference; a similar time difference would be present for 2022.
Fasel acknowledged the NHL's concerns and said he was encouraged after the parties had what he called ``a very positive meeting'' in New York in early February. Follow-up discussions were placed on hold due to the pandemic.
``We didn't give up after Pyeongchang. We understood the situation, how it was at that time. No bad feelings,'' he said. ``We really hope it will come in '22, and we are ready to work and find a solution.''
The NHL and union have declined to discuss the proposed CBA until it is approved, which could happen as early as Friday.
with files from Associated Press