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IIHF expects NHL players to participate in 2014 Olympics

By Adam Gretz | Hockey writer

The NHL hasn't yet decided if its players will participate in the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. But the International Ice Hockey Federation is going forward with the assumption that they will be there and has already put together the format for when games will start.

"We've prepared everything with the idea that NHL players will be there. We've decided about the format and expect them to be there," said IIHF president Rene Fasel on Friday via the Associated Press.

"We decided to start on Wednesday instead of Tuesday. In Vancouver, we started on Tuesday. But the players will need more time to travel to Russia. It will mean less rest between games, but we have to start on Wednesday."

The downside for the NHL is that if it allows its players to go, the league must shut down for two weeks (and condense its schedule, which means the same number of games in fewer days). And since the games will take place on the other side of the globe, they won't be televised live in prime time slots for North American viewers.

The positive is that the tournament with the NHL players is extremely exciting and is a two-week tournament of all-star teams playing against each other.

NHL players have been participating in the Olympics since the 1998 games in Nagano, Japan.

Gold medals over that time have been won by the Czech Republic ('98), Canada ('02), Sweden ('06) and Canada ('10). The United States took home silver medals in '02 and '10.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

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