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NHL still undecided about participating in 2018 Winter Olympics

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Could the league bring back the World Cup of Hockey?

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

If you're a fan of watching your favorite NHL players play in the Olympics then make sure to soak it in the next few weeks. The possibility remains the NHL won't be sending its players to the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed Friday the league hasn't made a final decision about the next round of Olympics, but he did suggest that the league isn't happy with shutting down for two whole weeks in the middle of the season.

But Daly says the NHL has to balance the boost that NHL players give to international hockey against the mid-season disruption to the NHL's schedule.

"The reality is that we must halt our activities for 17 days," he said. "That's unheard of for us. We lose the rhythm of the season and the impact is different for each team. Some teams send 10 players and others only two."

The NHL has sent players to the Olympics since 1998 after refusing to disrupt its schedule for the previous three Olympics. The players seem to love it. Zdeno Chara asked the Boston Bruins if he could miss three games to be the flag-bearer for Slovakia during the Opening Ceremony.

But some owners apparently feel differently. Philadelphia Flyers owner Ed Snider told The Hockey News this week that he sees "no benefits" to freezing the schedule for two weeks to send players overseas.

"I hate them. It's ridiculous, the whole thing is ridiculous," Snider said. "I don't care if it is in Philadelphia, I wouldn't want to break up the league. I think it's ridiculous to take three weeks the middle of the season. How can anybody be happy breaking up the season? No other league does it, why should we? There's no benefit to us whatsoever. If anything, I can only see negatives."

Commissioner Gary Bettman answers to the owners, first and foremost. If the overriding sentiment is that the league is negatively affected by participating in the Olympics, then in all likelihood the NHL won't be represented in South Korea in four years.

Instead, the NHL could look to bring back the World Cup of Hockey. Bettman said in November he was a "big believer" in the World Cup, which would be controlled by and provide revenue for the league.

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