While the NHL's participation in the 2018 Olympics in South Korea remains very much in doubt, the league and its players are close to finalizing two international events next season -- one in Sweden and one in China.
The NHL is awaiting word from the National Hockey League Players' Association on whether they will approve two regular-season games between the Colorado Avalanche and the Ottawa Senators, in Stockholm, Sweden, on Nov. 10-11, as well as two preseason games between the Los Angeles Kings and the Vancouver Canucks, in China, a source familiar with the discussions told ESPN.
The union is currently discussing the events with players at the team level and the executive board level, and is expected to report back to the league in the next two weeks with its decision.
The China trip, which follows a recent visit there by NHL and union officials to examine potential facilities and logistics for the 2022 Beijing Olympics, would likely mean extending training camp for the Canucks and Kings by three days.
The China trip would involve either two games in Beijing, or one in Beijing and one in Shanghai.
The players, who enthusiastically support continued NHL participation in the Olympics, would have preferred to have had a decision on the South Korea Olympics finalized before agreeing to these ancillary international events.
But that's not likely to happen given the plodding nature of the Olympic talks, which could drag on for another month or so, sources familiar with the process have said.
The major stakeholders in the Olympic decision -- the NHL, the NHLPA, the International Ice Hockey Federation and, for the first time, the International Olympic Committee -- are scheduled to meet in New York on Friday.