BUFFALO, N.Y. >> The head of the International Ice Hockey Federation says he will do everything in his power to persuade the NHL to take part in the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
The NHL won’t allow its players to participate in the Winter Games next month in South Korea.
Federation president Rene’ Fasel says he believes the best way to get the NHL involved in the 2022 Games is for the players’ union to apply pressure on the league in the next contract negotiations. The NHL’s current labor deal runs through the 2021-22 season, but includes a window to be renegotiated in 2020.
Fasel spoke on Thursday while attending the world junior championships being held in Buffalo, New York. Fasel noted that he will be watching the semifinal games with players’ union chief Donald Fehr.
Asked if it was realistic to reach a deal, Fasel responded by saying: “I have to. I have no choice. I have to for the hockey fans, for our game.”
He then placed the emphasis on NHL players to make their case.
“The solution is in the hands of the players,” Fasel said. “Because without the players what can we do? If they want to come to the Games, they have to say so.”
The NHL backed out of participating in South Korea because of a variety of concerns. One was the 14-hour time difference between Pyeongchang and North America’s Eastern time zone. A majority of the games would be played in the early morning hours in North America.
The NHL sought licensing agreements with the International Olympic Committee to market its players competing at the Games. The league also wanted either the IOC or IIHF to pay for transportation costs, which Fasel said would amount to $15 million.
Fasel said the transportation costs are a non-starter, because the IIHF can’t afford it.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly attended the world junior tournament last week and said it was premature to discuss the league’s plans to compete at the 2022 Games. Daly said talks won’t begin until after this year’s Winter Olympics are over.
“The issues with each Olympics are different,” Daly said. “Obviously, some of the logistical difficulties we have with South Korea will be the same in China. But maybe there are some opportunities in China that aren’t in South Korea.”