July 19 (Bloomberg) -- National Hockey League players will compete in the 2014 Winter Olympics.
It will be the fifth consecutive Winter Games where the world’s top hockey league will send its players to compete for medals.
“The decision to participate in the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi was in many ways a difficult one, but one that we know will be well received by our players, and most importantly, by the vast majority of our fans and sports fans everywhere,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement.
Canada took the gold medal in the 2010 Winter Olympics, where Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby scored the winning goal to defeat the U.S. in overtime of the final in Vancouver.
The 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, will require the league to stop its season on Feb. 9 and return Feb. 26. Negotiations between the NHL, the NHL Players Association, the International Olympic Committee and the International Ice Hockey Federation had been held periodically since the NHL lockout ended in January.
This year’s lockout resulted in a 48-game NHL regular season, down from 82, making the decision to halt the 2013-14 campaign for the Olympics more difficult than previous years. League owners have complained that they both lose revenue from the break and risk injury to their top players in games that mean nothing in the standings.
The Sochi Winter Olympics are scheduled for Feb. 6-23, with the men’s hockey competition beginning on Feb. 12.
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