Clock is Ticking for NHL/IOC Deal

We are eight months away from the start of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. But time is running out for the National Hockey League and the International Olympic Committee to agree on terms for NHL players to participate.

The two sides have been negotiating since January when the lockout ended. But the two sides are still apart on major details and there hasn’t been movement on either side. Those issues include:

  • Media rights, travel, and hospitality for NHL players, owners, officials, and families.
  • Which side will pay to insure roughly $3 billion worth of professional players contracts during the two-week Olympic hiatus.

With the media rights issue, the NHL wants to use the Olympic brand to promote the sport worldwide. Many players originate from European nations such as Sweden, Latvia, Czech Republic and the host nation Russia. The contracts issue is over what side will cover the insurance for participating players should they get injured during the Olympics.

The first domino has fallen with player participation, as the Washington Capitals have already given their blessing for Alex Ovechkin to play for his home country. This will start to set a precedent that many owners will be pressured to follow. The Olympic participation issue has been at the top of Gary Bettman’s to do list since the lockout ended. “Once we get the Olympics figured out we will start focusing on a long term, Olympic, World Cup, world championship international competition calendar,” he said.

Whether or not NHL players skate, the puck will still drop in Sochi February 8, 2014. The United States are placed in Group A with Russia, Slovakia and Slovenia. Canada headlines Group B with Finland, Norway, and Austria. Group C consist of Sweden, Czech Republic, Switzerland and Latvia.

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