If it means getting NHL players back in the Winter Olympics, International Ice Hockey Federation president René Fasel is prepared to completely renegotiate the league's current collective bargaining agreement.
That's what Fasel told ESPN this week, saying he has "no choice" but to use contract negotiations as a bargaining chip "for the hockey fans, for our game."
The NHL, of course, is not only sitting out the but is also for Beijing's 2022 Games. Commissioner Gary Bettman has given neither fans nor players eager to compete overseas any hope for a change of heart, previously saying that it's " " the NHL ever participating in future Olympics that occur outside North America.
Fasel, however, is adamant that the IIHF wants an NHL presence at the Games. On the heels of Team USAfor February's South Korea competitions, he highlighted CBA negotiations as an opportunity for discussion with the league, calling upon the NHL Players Association to use its voice and advocate for an Olympics revival.
As ESPN noted, NHLPA chief Don Fehr might be a key figure in labor negotiations, which can be opened as early as 2020 despite the NHL's current CBA running through the 2021-2022 season, but even he knows there's more hashing out to be done.
Though Fehr says he believes it's in the league's best interest to compete at the 2022 Olympics, he told The Associated Press on Thursday that he's not ready to commit to reopening bargaining talks next year in a bid to have that happen. Fehr also put the onus back on Fasel by noting the IIHF will have to budge on its position of refusing paying for transportation and players' insurance costs for 2022.