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International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel poses for a picture with National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman after a joint news conference at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, February 18, 2014.

JIM YOUNG/Reuters

International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel says it will "not be easy" to reach a deal for NHL players to compete at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Fasel tells The Associated Press that the IIHF has started the process of consulting players and officials over a deal for the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Fasel says "our goal is to bring the NHL to Korea," but he adds that it is a "long process" and "will not be easy."

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The IIHF must reach a deal with NHL officials, the NHL Players' Association and the International Olympic Committee. Insurance for player injuries is a perennial sticking point.

For the last Winter Olympics in Sochi, a deal was reached seven months before the games.

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