NEW YORK -- If NHL players are to continue participating in the Olympics, it's going to involve a delicate political dance.
The issue was not resolved as part of the tentative collective bargaining agreement reached by the NHL and NHL Players' Association early Sunday morning and will now need to be hammered out between those parties and two others with strong ties to Rene Fasel -- the International Ice Hockey Federation, of which Fasel is president, and the International Olympic Committee, of which he is an influential member.
It's been clear for some time the NHL is seeking to receive more of a direct benefit for closing its doors every four years in February and handing over its most important assets.
The tension was evident when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and Fasel held a joint press conference at the 2010 Vancouver Games and Bettman lamented being nothing more than an "invited guest" at the Olympics with no say in how the event was run.
Fasel has stepped lightly around the issue ever since and acknowledged to The Canadian Press on Tuesday that he's prepared to start addressing some of the NHL's concerns soon.
"Once the CBA is ratified and there has been some cooling-down period, we will sit together with the IOC, the NHL and NHLPA to find solutions how to make sure that Sochi 2014 becomes the fifth consecutive best-on-best Olympic event," said Fasel.
"As I have always pointed (out) whenever asked questions about NHL players' participation, our doors are always open and I am confident that we will find ways -- like we did in Nagano, Salt Lake City, Turin and Vancouver -- to stage this event on the biggest sporting stage there is."
-- The Canadian Press