Rene Fasel was caught between a rock and a hard place and, in the end, he split the difference.
The IIHF president stood firm during meetings with hockey federations Tuesday that the Dec. 31 deadline to submit Olympic rosters would not budge, telling countries that he had to respect the deal signed with the NHL and NHLPA.
However, sources indicate that while he was standing firm against pressure from Russia, Sweden, Finland and the Czech Republic to move the deadline, Fasel was back-channeling with the NHLPA and NHL on Tuesday and Wednesday to see if there was any wiggle room at all -- with the key person to convince being NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr.
The NHLPA likes the early roster deadline because it allows players who are selected to plan ahead and make plans with family members, etc. For the NHL, it’s more about marketing. Thus, Fehr was the key cog who needed convincing.
The Russians, Swedes, Finns and Czechs were pushing for a Jan. 15 deadline, two weeks after the original deadline. In the end, the NHLPA and NHL signed off on moving the deadline to Jan. 7.
And I'm guessing the NHLPA garnered a nice future favor from the IIHF for this; that's how these things work.
So, what does this all mean for Team USA and Team Canada?
Team USA originally planned to name its roster Jan. 1 as part of the Winter Classic telecast. When asked if the roster deadline extension would affect the Jan. 1 plan, a Team USA source responded via text: "Looking into it."
Still, one has to assume NBC still wants USA Hockey to announce the team on its Winter Classic broadcast. (UPDATE: Team USA announced Wednesday evening it will not change its plans to announce the team on Jan. 1.)
Team Canada never announced any date, and betting money, according to sources, is that GM Steve Yzerman would want to take the extra time he has now been given and stretch the announcement all the way to Jan. 7. And why not? An extra week would make some difference on some key roster battles.