Golden 25 - #9 - Rene Fasel/Gary Bettman

(ATR) Whether NHL players come to the 2018 Winter Olympics is the question.

(From L) Canada's gold medallists Duncan Keith, goalkeeper Carey Price and Jonathan Toews celebrate during the Men's Ice Hockey Medal Ceremony at the Bolshoy Ice Dome during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 23, 2014.  AFP PHOTO / JONATHAN NACKSTRAND        (Photo credit should read JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images)
(From L) Canada's gold medallists Duncan Keith, goalkeeper Carey Price and Jonathan Toews celebrate during the Men's Ice Hockey Medal Ceremony at the Bolshoy Ice Dome during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 23, 2014. AFP PHOTO / JONATHAN NACKSTRAND (Photo credit should read JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images)

(ATR) A New York lawyer and Swiss dentist will meet in January for more than a routine checkup.

National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman and International Ice Hockey Federation President Rene Fasel are expected to come to terms next month on whether the NHL will allow its players to compete in the Olympic Games in PyeongChang.

While the players are said to be in favor of competing for national squads, the owners are opposed. Compensation for shutting the league for two weeks and the cost of insurance for players are the key sticking points.

It’s up to the IIHF and Fasel to provide the inducements this time, not the wealthier IOC which has passed the buck to the federation.

The NHL has sent players to five previous Olympics. If it stops in PyeongChang, questions will then loom about whether the same applies for Beijing, the 2022 Winter Olympic host. The possibility of growing the game in Asia is at stake.

Absence of NHL players in Korea next year could also spell trouble for TV ratings for the 2018 Olympics. Already at a 13-hour time difference from the U.S. market, the PyeongChang Winter Games will present plenty of challenges to build TV audiences even if the NHL decides to make the Korean trip.

With the one year mark to the Games in February, all parties are keen to keep the NHL issue from overshadowing the milestone.

Homepage photo: Getty Images

Written by Ed Hula.