It appears as though players such as Alexander Ovechkin will get their wish, as the NHL nears an agreement to allow its players to participate in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Ovechkin has been strongly vocal about this issue, stating that he will participate in the Sochi Olympics regardless of whether or not the NHL approves. Representing his country on their home soil would be the opportunity of a lifetime, and one that Ovechkin would not risk missing out on.
Pending the approval of the team owners, and a handful of other issues, the NHL players would be welcome back to the Olympic games. Details were revealed following a meeting earlier today in Stockholm, Sweden, where the NHL, NHLPA, IIHF, and IOC met with the Sochi organizing committee.
One of the issues currently needing to be worked out is that of player insurance.
“There is obviously a risk involved when you bring over a projected 160 (to) 180 NHL players where the total contract value would be around (US)$3 billion,” said NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly. “This is a risk which must be insured, especially in cases of season-ending or career-ending injuries.”
According to IIHF.com, the organization will be proceeding as if the NHL players will be included in the Olympic tournament.
“We are proceeding under the assumption that the NHL will participate in Sochi. We are still working on important issues with the IIHF and the IOC, and subject to our board of governors’ consideration and approval, it remains the objective that Sochi will be the fifth consecutive Olympics with NHL participation and where the NHL shuts down for the duration of the Olympic tournament.”
The NHL will have half of the teams play next season on February 8th, while the other half plays on February 9th. Those selected to particpate in the Olympic games would board one of four charter flights leaving from the United States on either February 9th or the 10th. The Men’s tournament will begin with games on February 12th. The gold medal game will then take place on February 25th, with NHL play resuming on the 27th.
Despite the positive talks, no organization has committed to a final date that everything must be approved.
“Hopefully sometime soon we will be able to give the recommendation to our board of governors regarding our league’s Olympic participation,” Daly said.