With the start of the preseason less than two months away, there is still one last hurdle for the NHL and their franchises to overcome before the league can release their regular season schedule. The NHL and International Olympic Committee (IOC) have not yet resolved the matter of NHL players participation in the Olympics. NHL players have played in the past four Olympics, beginning with the Winter Games in Nagano, Japan.
While it seems to be a given that NHL players will be included in the Olympics, it’s just a matter of crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s. The NHL will have to suspend play for a period of two to three weeks for the games, and people like Penguins coach Dan Bylsma will be needed for a longer period of time. Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly expressed regret on the inability for the league to release the 2013-14 schedule. (It was slated for release yesterday.)
“There has been no final agreement on the terms of Olympic participation at this point,” Daly told NHL.com. “And unless, or until, there is, the release of the 2013-14 regular-season schedule would be premature. Having said that, we hope that a final resolution on both matters can be achieved in the very near future.”
The ‘both matters’ Daly alluded to were thought to have already been agreed upon. Insurance and incidental benefits. The NHL wanted the IOC to pick up most of the tab for player insurance. NHL players getting hurt can damage a franchise, and the IOC agreed to do that. The league also wanted players and owners to receive more benefits for their families or other guests. Essentially, better hotel rooms, more access to transportation, gratis meals, and other minor perks. This was also agreed-upon. (Both of these points were agreed to about a month ago.)
I think someone needs to pull Gary Bettman aside and tell him that the Olympics will go on with or without NHL participation, and that there won’t be a lockout over this in February.