League expects answer Monday
ZURICH, Switzerland -- NHL players moved a step closer Thursday to playing in the 2006 Turin Olympics.
Details were discussed at a meeting attended by NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly, NHL Players' Association executive director Ted Saskin, International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel and International Olympic Committee executive director Gilbert Felli.
Daly said a day earlier the league expects a "definitive answer" on the agreement by Monday. Calls and e-mails to NHL officials Thursday were not immediately returned.
The main stumbling block is the refusal of the Russian and Czech federations to sign off on a proposed player transfer agreement between the NHL and IIHF.
All seven European leagues -- including Finland, Germany, Slovakia, Sweden and Switzerland -- will meet with the IIHF on Friday.
"This meeting will be very decisive whether we will be able to reach a consensus," Fasel said.
The NHL could allow its players to appear in the Olympics even if the Czechs and Russians refuse to sign. But it could use participation at the Olympics as a bargaining chip to get the two reluctant federations to fall in line.
The Czechs say the minimum amount of compensation the NHL pays to European federations to sign players is too low. The Russian federation would like to deal directly with NHL clubs in determining player compensation.
In the proposed five-year player transfer plan, the NHL would pay $12.5 million annually to a fund managed by the IIHF -- a $3.5 million increase from the previous deal.
The IIHF would distribute the money among the national federations and clubs that lose players to the NHL based on a formula devised by the IIHF and the national federations.
A player picked first in the NHL draft is worth $900,000, with each successive pick down to 30th decreasing by $20,000. Later draft picks are valued at $150,000.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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