|The NHL and IIHF are expected to continue 2014 Olympics discussions next week. (USPressWires)|
The NHL, International Olympic Committee and International Ice Hockey Federation appear to be a step closer to an agreement on the league's participation in the 2014 Sochi Games. Executives from the NHL, NHLPA and IIHF met in New York during the last two days and, by all accounts, the meetings were productive.
“Yes, we had a good discussion over two days and we plan to touch base again next week,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times. “I think we are conceptually in agreement on the broader issues and concerns, and now we will try to work through the details on a more granular level.”
The NHL has been looking for a bit more in return from the IOC and IIHF for having to shut its business down for two weeks in the middle of a season -- which the NHL has done every four years beginning in 1998. So news of a conceptual agreement on broader issues is particularly encouraging.
The IIHF also released a series of tweets with comments from Rene Fasel, the organization's president.
"Meetings were held in a very constructive and positive atmosphere. All parties put all their concerns and issues on the table,” Fasel said. "Now all parties are going back to work on details in order to put together an agreement. Still lot of work to be done."
The fact that there is some sort of agreement coming out of the last two days of meetings is a great start. Furthermore, that another meeting is expected to be held so soon suggests both sides are eager to get this done in short order.
As discussions were being carried out among the executives, more NHL players have voiced their desire to compete in Sochi.
Flyers captain Claude Giroux, who has not had the chance to play in the Olympics, told the Philadelphia Daily News that it would be unbelievable to represent his native Canada next year.
“It's the best hockey you can get,” he said. “It's every kid's dream to win a gold medal for your country. Obviously, it would be hard on your body, but you don't think twice about it."
This is clearly not a done deal yet, but it appears all entities are taking the proper steps necessary to make NHLers in Sochi a reality.
None of the sides has set a hard deadline, but Fasel has said in recent weeks that May would be a reasonable month for a final decision. If talks continue to progress next week, there's a good chance that it won't take that long.