We’re under a year away from the start of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia, but while the countdown has reached a milestone the NHL has yet to decide whether or not it’s players will be participating in the festivities. The NHL and NHLPA will be meeting on Thursday and Friday of next week with the International Ice Hockey Federation to discuss how the NHL will be involved in the 2014 Sochi Games.
Numerous reports indicate that the NHL’s participation in the games is “just short of a foregone conclusion” but no decision has yet been made official. But while Bob McKenzie of TSN reported that the NHL is more than likely going to be involved in the games, the league and it’s players want a better deal from the IIHF and the IOC before they fully commit.
“A better deal doesn’t mean a better monetary deal,” McKenzie said. “It means better access to the players. The use of images, the use of video, things like that — as well as accommodations, tickets and the NHL and NHLPA basically being treated as if it was a major sponsor of the Olympics.”
Let’s not forget that Washington Capitals star Ale Ovechkin is going to be a torchbearer during the Opening Ceremony next year, meaning he’s already going to be involved in the games in some fashion. IIFH president Rene Fasel spoke on the matter of the NHL’s involvement in the 2014 Sochi Olympics and he hardly sounded concerned.
I’m really confident that the NHL players will be in Sochi. We know the players want to be there. Many others, not just [top Russian and confirmed torchbearer] Alex Ovechkin, have expressed their determination to go to Sochi. We know that all the four Olympics, we had the NHL players, and they have produced wonderful tournaments. We really know that the Olympic tournaments are good for our sport, in general for sport, and also for ice hockey. We are really confident that the Olympic spirit will prevail and that the best players will be in Sochi. This is my strong opinion.
- IIFH President Rene Fasel
Basically, the NHL and it’s players will be involved in the 2014 Sochi Olympics, but even if they weren’t it’s not like hockey wouldn’t exist as an Olympic sport. It wouldn’t be as interesting but the games will go on with or without the NHL and given the recent lockout that set the sport back five years, the NHL can use any branding help it can get.