While there is little doubt the NHL players will take part in the 2014 Sochi Olympics, a formal agreement on that is at least 10 days away.
NHL Players' Association executive director Donald Fehr, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and Rene Fasel, president of the International Ice Hockey Federation met Monday in hopes of producing a final agreement but all said afterward there are still a few issues left to resolve although the major ones appear to be sorted out. Fehr also has to meet with the NHLPA executive board to update it and get its approval during their annual meetings July 8-10 in Chicago. And Fasel has to do the same Tuesday with the IIHF and the national hockey federations.
"Certainly from my end, we've made a lot of progress on a lot of issues," Fehr said. "There are a few i dots and t crosses to do yet. We have to turn it into final written documents and I do have to go back to my executive board. But things are moving along."
Bettman said there is an understanding between the league, the players' association, the IIHF and the International Olympic Committee but it's too soon to even call it an agreement in principle.
"I think there are some agreements in principal but we're not completely in agreement on everything yet," Bettman said. "But we're getting closer on the open issues."
The major issues of who will pay for the insurance on the players' contracts and their travel was settled when the IOC agreed to cover the costs, which could add up to more than $20-million. What remains are smaller issues like accommodation, tickets and transportation for the families and guests of the NHL players and owners.
"I'm confident we will find a solution," Fasel said.
Bettman did not want to put a date on when the agreement could be signed by all parties but said, "Soon. Very soon. We're on a compact schedule. Everyone seems to be pulling on the oars hard and we're pulling in the same direction."