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Report: NHL, NHLPA to meet next week to discuss Olympics participation

Anaheim Ducks v Winnipeg Jets - Game Three

WINNIPEG, MB - APRIL 20: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman talks to the media prior to Game Three of the Western Conference Quarterfinals between the Anaheim Ducks and Winnipeg Jets during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the MTS Centre on April 20, 2015 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Marianne Helm/Getty Images)

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The “will they or won’t they” discussion regarding the NHL’s participation in the 2018 Olympics will continue next week when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr are expected to meet in person to discuss the matter, according to a report on Saturday night from Sportsnet’s Elliote Friedman.

One of the main the sticking point between the two sides is that the NHL wants some sort of labor piece in exchange for sending the players. The NHLPA already rejected an offer from the league that would extend the current CBA an additional three years through 2025, while also eliminating an opt-out clause that both sides have, in exchange for participation in the 2018 PyeongChang games.

There is a deadline set for late January when it comes to finally deciding if the NHL will go.

According to Friedman during Saturday night’s Hockey Night in Canada broadcast, the players are simply looking to see if there is anything they can negotiate off of here, especially after seeing Major League Baseball and the NBA recently reach new collective bargaining agreements without any sort of a work stoppage. The past three times the NHL’s labor deal has expired, the league has locked the players out (1994, 2004 and 2012), resulting in what amounts to two missed seasons -- a half season each in 1994 and 2012, as well as a full season in 2004.

NHL players have participated in the Winter Olympics since 1998 in Nagano, Japan.

One of the issues for the league when it comes to 2018 has been the cost of sending players to the games due to the insurance and the other expenses that go with the NHL’s participation. In the past those expenses have been covered by the IOC and IIHF. Those two organizations have been reluctant to do the same this time around.

If the league does not participate in 2018 there remains a chance they could return for the 2022 games in Beijing.