Winter Olympics: NHL’s 2018 participation remains in question

Bruce Bennett

The IIHF is hoping to have NHL participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics, but alternative options might make 2014 the last best-on-best tournament in the Games.

SB Nation 2014 Olympics Preview

The men's ice hockey tournament at the 2014 Olympics hasn't started yet and focus has already shifted to the 2018 Games.

International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel stated that he is looking forward to meeting with the NHL and the NHL Players Association to discuss participation at the 2018 Olympics, which is scheduled to take place in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The NHL and players' union have not committed to participation beyond this year, and there is a predominant belief that the Sochi games could be the final appearance of the NHL's stars.

Some reports have indicated that the NHL is exploring alternative options to international growth, such as a return of the World Cup of hockey. There has even been mention of a possible Champions League tournament involving club teams. Fasel stated that he would not be in favor of the World Cup replacing participation in the Olympics.

One of the primary issues with the Winter Olympics is the interruption of the NHL's regular season. In addition to shutting down for the majority of February, the league's best players are involved in a serious competition that includes the risk of injury and fatigue, factors that could heavily impact responsibilities to club teams.

Despite this inconvenience, Fasel stated that hockey would not consider moving to the Summer Olympics.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is scheduled to arrive in Russia next week.

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