During meetings between NHL, NHLPA, IIHF and IOC, progress may have been made towards NHL players participating in the 2018 Olympics. It was brought up that the NHL could be willing to participate in exchange for an extension of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the NHLPA.
The CBA has a clause that makes it possible for the NHL or NHLPA to opt out in 2020. The contract, otherwise, is set to expire in 2022.
The main issue for the NHL, according to commissioner Gary Bettman, is that he wants the NHL compensated for expenses involved in participation. The International Ice Hockey Federation has recently expressed a willingness to pay for such costs. However, the NHL is concerned that any such payments would be taken from hockey develop programs around the world. The 2014 Olympics cost an estimated $32 million which was paid by the IIHF and IOC. Bettman has stated that a decision would have to be made by early January.
Other factors on the 2018 Olympics
It’s no secret that the NHL players themselves would like to go to PyeongChang. Alex Ovechkin has gone as far as to say he will represent Russia regardless of the NHL’s decision.
Another factor playing a role is the NBC. The NBC has rights to the NHL as well as hockey at the Olympics and would certainly prefer to show the best hockey players in the world participating. The same holds true for the IOC whose interest lie in showing the best athletes in every sport. This most certainly would include NHL players.
As of yet no solution has been reached, however Bettman has noted he wishes to resolve the issue in January.