IIHF President Hopes NHL Will Take Break To Allow Players To Participate In Olympics
With the resolution of the NHL lockout on Sunday, hockey's next big issue on the agenda is the question of whether the NHL will take a two-week break to allow its players to participate in the Olympic hockey tournament at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games. Asked about this issue, Int'l Ice Hockey Federation President René Fasel said: "I have not spoken with the NHL or the NHLPA yet, but these talks are to take place in the near future. I don’t know if they will participate or not, but our doors are wide open, and if they decide to take part, it will certainly add to the tournament" (HJ Mai, SBD GLOBAL). ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun noted the NHL and NHLPA agreed to "leave the Olympics out of the CBA," and plan to negotiate "a separate agreement outside of the CBA relating to the Olympics." That agreement would come about if the two sides "can agree to terms" with the IIHF and IOC. Sources said that the four parties "plan to meet over the next month or so to begin discussions." LeBrun: "If I had to venture a guess, I would say NHL players will again be Olympic-bound." But it is "not a slam dunk" (ESPN.com, 1/8). The CANADIAN PRESS' Chris Johnston noted the NHL is expected to "continue making a big international push over the course of its new CBA, as evidenced by an article devoted to that topic in the document." Not only does it "include a clause saying every team in the league has to make at least one international trip before the deal expires in 2022, but there is also a section covering 'new international business ventures.'" Sources said that the changes the NHL is "expected to seek range from smaller issues such as access to tickets, hotels and better hospitality for team owners to larger things like sponsor recognition and a loosening of the IOC's notoriously strict guidelines on images, video and media." This is where it could "get tricky for Fasel," who is "rumoured to be interested in running" for IOC President (CP, 1/8).
SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO? RUSSIA TODAY reported New Jersey Devils player Ilya Kovalchuk "will entertain the Chelyabinsk crowd at this weekend's KHL All-Star game." The forward "has decided to stay in Russia at least until Sunday despite an unofficial end to the NHL lockout." Kovalchuk "was supposed to appear in the Russian Urals city of Chelyabinsk together with other prominent NHLers" including Zdeno Chara, Pavel Datsyuk, Evgeny Malkin and Alex Ovechkin. However, all of them "headed to North America for preseason training soon after Sunday's talks breakthrough between the NHL and the players' association." Meanwhile, Kovalchuk "is taking his time." He said, "Will I stay in Russia? We'll see. Time will tell. We shouldn't rule it out" (RT, 1/9).