The NHL’s Olympic decision remained unresolved after another meeting Wednesday, though there’s certainly more intrigue to it all now.
Donald Fehr, executive director of the NHL Players’ Association, confirmed to reporters in New York on Wednesday that the NHL has offered to sign off on Olympic participation for 2018 in exchange for extending the current CBA.
“There have been some suggestions which could be construed that that discussion would be worth having,” Fehr told reporters. “Obviously we would discuss that with players. We have begun that process, but we’re a long way from done.”
The players have always maintained their desire for continued Olympic involvement, but the league’s initial offer likely won’t get players all too excited, according to sources, given how eager they are to reopen the CBA and negotiate a limit on escrow, an amount withheld from players until the end of the season. A source said the NHLPA has already started to seek feedback from players on the league’s Olympic offer and will continue to do so.
The CBA expires in September 2022, but both the NHL and NHLPA can choose to opt out in September 2020. The NHL’s offer is to extend the CBA three years to 2025, two sources confirmed, in exchange for Olympic participation.
In the meantime, the clock is running on an Olympic decision for 2018 in South Korea.
“We had continuing discussions on the Olympics,” Fehr told reporters after Wednesday’s meeting. “No resolution was reached and we didn’t expect one to be reached today, really. The discussions will continue.”
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly in an email to ESPN.com earlier Wednesday characterized the meeting as a “good discussion, still no resolution.”
“The meeting progressed the way I would anticipate it would progress today,” Daly later told reporters in New York. “We got a lot of information from the [International Ice Hockey Federation]. From their representatives, we asked a lot of questions. We all have a lot of work to do with our constituents in terms of next steps. As Don said, we’re in constant touch and that’s how we’ll continue.”
The NHL has participated in the Olympic Games since 1998 in Nagano, Japan, but that has come under threat after the IOC said it no longer wanted to cover certain costs such as players’ travel and insurance on player contracts.
IIHF president Rene Fasel, however, says he’s come up with the money to cover those costs, which he relayed in Wednesday’s meeting.
“It was a good meeting but there is still work to do,” Fasel told ESPN.com in a statement via email. “We need to go back now and confirm what kind of support we can expect from the [member national associations], the [national Olympic committees], [the PyeongChang Organizing Committee] and the IOC before we can move forward.”
There is no hard deadline for a decision but all parties agree this must be resolved, either way, sometime in the New Year at the latest.