NHL's future participation in Olympics in doubt over IOC money

The NHL's future participation in the Olympics is in doubt.

Sources have confirmed to ESPN.com that the NHL, NHL Players Association and International Ice Hockey Federation met last week, at which point the IIHF updated all parties with the news that the International Olympic Committee is balking at reimbursing some of the expenses that were paid for in the past for the league and players.

The IOC has helped cover expenses such as insurance for players and travel costs ever since NHL participation commenced in 1998 at Nagano, Japan.

The news was first reported by Inside The Games on Saturday.

It could also be a bargaining ploy by the IOC, since these are early days in negotiations for NHL participation in the 2018 Winter Games.

The prevailing thought is that the NHL might have interest in investing in a long-term plan for the sport in Asia by committing to both the 2018 Games in South Korea and the 2022 Games in Beijing.

There's still a lot to play out on this front, but if the IOC insists on scaling back what it has paid the NHL and NHLPA for participating in the past, it's possible the NHL and NHLPA pull out, especially considering the return of the World Cup of Hockey next September.