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Answer on NHL players in Olympics expected before world championship: Nicholson

OTTAWA - The head of Hockey Canada expects an answer on the NHL's participation in the 2014 Winter Olympics before the start of the men's world championship May 3.

Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson, who also sits on the International Ice Hockey Federation's competition committee, says there is still much to be discussed on the subject of NHL players heading to Sochi, Russia.

"We expect to have an answer before the men's world championship this year," Nicholson said Monday during a news conference at the women's world hockey championship.

"It's not a deadline for us, but it certainly helps us. If the NHL players are going to the Olympics we have our management staff in place and it certainly helps us get the players we want there."

The men's world championship is May 3-19 in Stockholm and Helsinki.

Nicholson was accompanied to the news conference by IIHF president Rene Fasel, who echoed Nicholson's comments.

"We're still hoping to have an answer before the start of the world championship, which is the end of this month," Fasel said.

"There's really a lot to discuss. There are a number of partners involved, so it's not so easy—the IOC, us, the NHL and NHLPA and everybody is busy at this time of year."

NHL players participated in the Winter Olympics in 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010, but the NHL has not yet given the green light for Sochi. The league is still deciding if it is worth shutting down the NHL season for three weeks to allow players to participate.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper added his voice Monday to the support for NHL players in the Games, saying he speaks for all Canadians who want to see the country's top players don the Maple Leaf at the Winter Games.

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