Ice Hockey - League reaches deal to allow player participation in Sochi

The NHL has reached an agreement with the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) for player participation in the Sochi Olympics.

Reuters
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The Bolshoy Ice Dome is seen in the background in Sochi, generic (Reuters)

The National Hockey League (NHL) said on Friday it reached an agreement with the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) for player participation in the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

After months of deliberation, the NHL agreed to halt its 2013-14 regular season to allow about 120 players the chance to compete in the Feb. 12-23 tournament.

"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," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement.

It will mark the fifth consecutive Winter Games dating back to Nagano 1998 that NHL players competed in the Olympics.

The decision assures ice hockey will remain one of the marquee events of the Winter Games, where Canada will look to defend the gold medal it won at the 2010 Vancouver Games.

"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," Don Fehr, NHL Players' Association Executive Director, said in a statement.

"Having the opportunity to wear their nation's sweater in Sochi is something the players look forward to."

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