Olympics: Ice Hockey-Men Team Quarterfinal - USA-CZE
Andrew Nelles / USA TODAY Sports

The return of NHL players to the Winter Olympics may be closer than some have expected, according to a new report from Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman. The International Olympic Committee and the International Ice Hockey Federation have apparently made solid progress in talks with the league to meet certain demands that would bring NHL players back to the quadrennial competition.

Among some of the needs that the NHL has asked for includes insurance costs, travel costs and ability to promote on own platforms, which address the previous concerns league executives had with Olympic participation. 

It's important to note that the IOC and IIHF switching their position on this stuff is quite a departure from how things were perceived to be just 24 hours ago. Per Friedman, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly had said he wanted to make Olympic participation part of CBA talks. Daly did receive pushback from the NHLPA because the current CBA extends past 2022, the year of the next Winter Olympics.

The 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea marked the first time in 20 years that NHL players were absent from the competition's hockey slate. If all goes as planned, that absence will not extend to a second consecutive Olympic Games, and professional NHL hockey players will be representing their country at the 2022 Olympics held in Beijing.