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IIHF happy to wait out NHL commitment to the Olympics

May 20, 2012, 12:21 PM EDT

Gary Bettman, Rene Fasel Getty Images

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and IIHF president Rene Fasel have never been the best of friends. Fasel has been outspoken in the past concerning the lack of NHL superstars who attend the annual World Championships upsetting Bettman in the process.

When it comes to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Fasel has been a bit more easy going concerning the up-in-the-air status of whether or not the NHL will allow its players to attend the games. As Chris Johnston of The Canadian Press finds out, Fasel and the IIHF are happy to wait for the NHL and Bettman to come to them.

“I’ve always said our door is wide open,” Fasel said Sunday. “That’s in their hands. Our door is wide, wide open. That’s their decision to make, if they want to come or not.”

Olympic ice hockey is much more interesting (and lucrative) at the Games when the pros are involved and those in Sochi are champing at the bit to have Evgeni Malkin, Alex Ovechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk, and Pavel Datsyuk among others to represent their country.

The problem for the NHL, however, is taking two to three weeks off mid-season and having the games played at unfriendly TV times in North America (Sochi is eight hours ahead of the Eastern time zone). NHL participation in the Olympics will be discussed during the CBA negotiations this summer as the players want to go but the owners and league are a touch reluctant. Good thing Fasel says the IIHF is patient.

  1. greatminnesotasportsmind - May 20, 2012 at 12:44 PM

    Who cares about time zone differences? Face it, hockey is a nitch sport to begin with. They they show the games here (and Canada) people are going to watch. At least the US and Canada games will be watched. If hockey fans really want to watch Russia/Germany and Sweden/Finland they will. Olympic hockey is the best hockey to watch.

  2. jimw81 - May 20, 2012 at 1:28 PM

    why can’t they just have a regular season and let the players who want to go play in Olympics and play? But at the same time those players who are playing should give teams a salary cap “hold” until they come back. I guess they are fighting over who going to take the insurance hit on the players playing in Olympics.

    • greatminnesotasportsmind - May 20, 2012 at 5:56 PM

      I couldn’t disagree more about anything you said. Olympics are 15 days long (specifically hockey). Your only making up 11 days of hockey because Olympics are in lieu of the All-Star Game (and that is only watched by kids over the age of 12) so basically you have to condense the schedule by a mere week and half. Which can be cut down by not having teams sit from Sunday to Thursday.

      It’s not because they are fighting for insurance, being that players have played since Nagano games in 1998. It’s a matter of Bettman (and owners) holding the players hostage (being the players want to play in the Olympics) just like what the NHLPA did with the realignment. Where the NHLPA is faulty here is it’s their own players they are screwing over by not agreeing to realignment. It makes perfect sense that Winnipeg (in the middle of Manitoba, Canada in case you forgot) is in the Southeast division with Washington, Carolina, Tampa, and Florida. Dallas is in the Pacific no where near Los Angeles, San Jose, Anaheim, and Phoenix. Minnesota is in the Northwest playing Colorado, Vancouver, Edmonton, and Calgary. Instead of all 3 being in the same conference.

      When the CBA get ironed out, Olympics will be traded for realignment and both will happen for the 2013-2014 season

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