Reuters - Fri, 26 Feb 13:22:00 2010
NHL players should take part at the Sochi 2014 Olympics as there is no better way of promoting their sport, according to International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge.
The NHL is unwilling to stop its season and allow players to travel halfway across the globe to Russia for the Games, saying a mid-season halt would be damaging.
NHL players have travelled to Vancouver for the 2010 Olympics mainly because of the geographical proximity.
Rogge said talks were ongoing between NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and the IOC as well as the international ice hockey federation.
"It is not my style to pressure people," said Rogge. "I would like to persuade them and I know the players want to participate."
"(The Olympic tournament) is the best promotion for the NHL and hockey. The ratings of the final of the Olympic Games are way better than those of the final of the Stanley Cup and Gary knows that."
He said any issues regarding scheduling of NHL matches could easily be overcome.
"I know there are logistical issues but all of these can be dealt with," said Rogge. "It is the wish of the IOC (for NHL players) to compete in Sochi."
International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel said he would try to continue to win over the NHL by saying the Olympics was the best possible platform for the sport.
"The game and the fans need the best players in the Olympic Games," he said.
"All over the world hockey is a sport everyone is loving. It would be wrong for the game.
"Gary does not understand that the way the hockey is played here with the level of passion the fans show it's the best promotional support for his game.
"He should be very happy. Hockey needs the best players in the tournament and the fans need that. They (the players) want to be in Sochi and they will be in Sochi.
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