Tuesday, August 02, 2005

IIHF Deal and the Olympics

As I reported yesterday, the Russians said no to the IIHF-NHL deal. Now the NHL is trotting out an old bargaining chip that worked with the NHLPA. The NHL is threatening to skip the Olympics. They threatened this with the NHLPA during the CBA negotiations. They threatened to pass up the publicity for hockey that Olympic participation would bring and the potential windfall should USA have a strong showing only to reneg on these threats probably after the NHLPA offered some sort of concessions. They did this knowing that all along they wanted to participate in the Olympics.

This story outlines the threat.

The IIHF deal formally outlines NHL participation in the Olympics with the International Ice Hockey Federation, but it is hardly a necessity for NHL Olympic participation. All that is needed is the NHL to allow teams to send their players to the Olympics. The NHL has already set a schedule with an Olympic break. They have already begun selling season tickets for this schedule. I think it is too late for this bluff. I think they are already committed to the Olympics. They merely want to strongarm the IIHF to force the Russians to accept the deal.

The Russians are probably quite happy without it given the possibility of Jaromir Jagr and possibly other NHLers playing in their league.

I think the Russian Hockey Federation will not fold like the NHLPA.

NOTE: The Czechs have also rejected this deal. TSN's story is here.

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