IOC: Jan. 15 deadline for NHL decision on PyeongChang Games

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 18: (L-R) International Ice Hockey Federation President Rene Fasel and National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman speak during a press conference on day eleven of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics on February 18, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA – FEBRUARY 18: (L-R) International Ice Hockey Federation President Rene Fasel and National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman speak during a press conference on day eleven of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics on February 18, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Now that the 2016 World Cup of Hockey is over, the PyeongChang Olympic discussion can really heat up as we await to find out whether the NHL and NHLPA will send players to the 2018 tournament.

Last month in Toronto NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said he was feeling “more negative” about the idea due to a lack of progress made on talks between the IOC and IIHF about covering costs for travel, accommodations and insurance.

“I think time is very short to make a decision, and I’m not sure there’s been a lot of progress made in the past six months, and I’m not sure there’s any prospect for progress to be made,” Daly said. “So on the basis of that, I’d say that I’m more negative today than I was two weeks ago.”

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Things should really ramp up now, especially after the IOC’s Executive Director of the Olympic Games, Christophe Dubi, revealed a deadline date for a decision.

“When it comes to the final participation … there is a date set at Jan. 15 to find an agreement,” Dubi said at a news conference in PyeongChang, Korea via the Associated Press. “Until then it will be work between all parties involved to make sure that we get the participation of the very best, and that’s for both Pyeongchang and Beijing.”

Dubi added that NHL reps will be doing an inspection visit of PyeongChang later this month, a trip he described as a “very positive step.”

Even if IIHF president Rene Fasel is able to find the money to cover the costs for NHL players and their guests to attend, Daly said last month that wouldn’t necessarily be a game changer.

“It changes the current state of affairs, but it might not change the result,” he said.

There is the possibility that NHL players do not participate in 2018 but do play in the 2022 tournament in Beijing, China, a market the league is hoping to break in to.

But for now, the focus is on Korea, and there’s a little over three months until the IOC deadline. Alex Ovechkin is going. Will his NHL colleagues be joining him?

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!