Men's hockey teams in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, will again include NHL players. The NHL and the league's players union reached an agreement with the International Ice Hockey Federation to include the players. It is the fifth straight Olympics that NHL players will be used in the Winter games, dating back to Nagano in 1998. The 2014 men's Olympic hockey tournament is Feb. 12-23. More than 120 NHL players are expected to compete for their respective nations in Sochi. "The National Hockey League features the most international player population in professional sports, and our outstanding athletes take tremendous pride in representing their homelands on the global stage," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. "The decision to participate in the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi was in many ways a difficult one, but one that we know will be well received by our players and, most importantly, by the vast majority of our fans and sports fans everywhere." The NHL will break from the 2013-14 regular season schedule on Feb. 9 and return to play Feb. 26 to allow the players to compete in the Olympics. "The Players are very pleased that an agreement has been reached that will allow the world's best hockey players to compete at the Winter Games in February," NHLPA executive director Don Fehr said in a statement. "Having the opportunity to wear their nation's sweater in Sochi is something the players look forward to." Twelve teams in three groups will take part in the event (Feb. 12-23) and eight teams in two groups will compete in the women's tournament (Feb. 8-20). NBC and its networks will provide television coverage of the Olympic ice hockey tournament. The schedules will be released at a later date.
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