NHL players have participated in every Olympics since 1998, and the streak should continue next year.
During the latest Hotstove Tonight segment on Hockey Night in Canada Saturday night, the panel discussed the return of NHL players to the Olympics, and the issues they might encounter ahead of the 2014 Sochi Games.
Hockey Night in Canada analyst Elliotte Friedman is not too concerned after speaking to several people from different sides during the meeting between NHL officials, the International Olympic Committee and the International Ice Hockey Federation on Friday.
"The belief is the IIHF wants to get a deal announced by May 3rd, which is when the world championships start," Friedman said. "And there is a lot of people who see a path to that."
According to Friedman, the budget estimates are between $4 and $7 million US for travel, and $7 to $10 million for insurance. But the main hurdle will be time, as accommodation facilities and other infrastructure are not ready yet.
"The biggest issue is some promises [were] made about 'here's how the hotels are going to look, this is how the transportation is going to work,'" he said. "Those hotels a lot of them are not going to be built until October, so I think that the players in the league are going to say ‘we’re going and we'll just have to pray that this gets done properly.'"
Fromer National Hockey League Players’ Association executive Glenn Healy agrees with his HNIC partner.
"I think the biggest thing here is the IOC is going to take the number for charters and the cost for insurance and they’re going to try to trim those numbers," said Healy. "It’s going to be around $15 million. Good luck IOC if the numbers can’t be trimmed."
Healy also urged both sides to become more organized, as nothing has yet been documented.
"The big issue is none of this is on paper, this is all just word for word," he said. "Until both sides actually see the devil and the details, it is going to be a difficult one to handicap."
However, Healy downplayed the controversy and, despite the concern, is sure we are going to see NHL superstars in Sochi.
"They’re going to go, no question … These are all big factors, but time is of the essence."