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NHL schedule release, Olympic plans pushed back yet another day

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com

More NHL offseason: Rumors | Top 50 Free Agents | Buyout Tracker | Trades | Transactions

We've been waiting for an official announcement on NHL players going to the Sochi Olympics and the schedule for next season to be released for weeks now. What's another day?

The schedule, which is being help up by ongoing negotiations to send the players to the Winter Olympics in February, won't be released on Thursday, a second straight day that an expected announcement won't come. It had been anticipated the announcements would come on Wednesday, but it will go on until at least Friday.

For pretty obvious reasons, the NHL can't release a schedule before it knows the league will take a two-week sabbatical to allow players to head to Russia for the Games. At this point, it's impossible to imagine the players won't be going to Russia. But until it's finalized, the schedule is stuck in a holding pattern.

"There has been no final agreement on the terms of Olympic participation at this point," deputy commissioner Bill Daly told NHL.com. "And unless, or until, there is, the release of the 2013-14 regular-season schedule would be premature. Having said that, we hope that a final resolution on both matters can be achieved in the very near future."

It has been said the Olympic negotiations were pretty much at the point of crossing the t's and dotting the i's. Conclusion: There must be a lot of i's and t's in the contracts. That, or they aren't quite to that point.

Yes, there is still a long time before the NHL season begins, but it's getting rather hilarious that a schedule still isn't out. There are a lot of people who plan around that, from beat writers to television stations to fans deciding what games to attend.

On Wednesday, what looked like a possible schedule for the Florida Panthers was leaked and made its way to George Richards of the Miami Herald. That schedule included a two-week break in mid-February. However, the Panthers denied they had received anything official from the league.

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