IIHF says won't be easy to get NHL players to 2018 Olympics

SOCHI, Russia (AP) The process of getting NHL players to come to the 2018 Winter Olympics has begun.

International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he has been consulting players and officials over a deal to ensure the NHL's best are available to play at the games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

''We are working on that. It will not be easy for sure, but our goal is to bring the NHL to Korea,'' Fasel said on the sidelines of the SportAccord convention. ''It's a long way. We started one year ago. It's a long process. We have so many partners involved, so many, so it takes time.''

The IIHF must reach a deal with NHL officials, the NHL Players' Association and the International Olympic Committee in order to get the players on board for the games. Insurance for player injuries is a perennial sticking point.

For the last Winter Olympics in Sochi, a deal was reached seven months before the games.

Fasel also said he did not consider next year's revived World Cup, organized by the NHL, to be a threat to the IIHF's annual world championship. The World Cup will be played in September 2016, four months after the world championship, which usually lacks many major NHL names.

''Different continent. Many different players. Different continent, different fans,'' Fasel said. ''They're going to play (the World Cup) in Toronto, it's a hockey city, 100 percent. We go to Czech (Republic), another place where hockey is very, very popular.''

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