International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) President René Fasel has claimed he is encouraged by recent pressure put on the National Hockey League (NHL) by leading players desperate to participate at next year's Winter Olympic Games here.
He warned that not reaching a deal to compete here in 11 months time would be both a "mistake" and a "risk" but insisted there is still hope of an agreement being done.
As it stands, no players from the world's leading league will be officially cleared to participate after negotiations stalled between the NHL, IIHF, Players' Association (NHLPA) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The IOC's decision to stop covering transport and accommodation fees has proved to be a particular stumbling block.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has accused the IOC of opening a "can of worms" by refusing to pay and claimed last week that there had been "no progress".
"There's still time, I'm still 50-50," Fasel told insidethegames here during the IOC Coordination Commission inspection to Pyeongchang 2018.
"The pressure from the side of the players is getting bigger and bigger, so I hope they will find a solution between the NHL and the NHLPA.
"The NHLPA should find a way to ensure they shut down the league.
"I think its a bargaining issue - Gary wants to have something, the only problem is that nobody knows what.
"They should sit together and find a way."
Czech Republic and Philadelphia Flyers star Jakub Voráček has been among those to criticise the deadlock over the past week, accusing the NHL of taking a "ridiculous" stance.
Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin has vowed to attend regardless of whether he has permission.
His Russian team-mate Evgeni Malkin, Canada's Patrice Bergeron and United States' David Backes are among others to have expressed willingness to compete.
The NHL are thought to be ambivalent about the prospects of an Olympics in South Korea but keen to exploit the opportunity of the Chinese market during Beijing 2022.
Fasel has warned that they cannot pick and choose and risk never returning if they opt not attending next year.
"I consider Gary Bettman as a smart person so he knows that not coming here would then put in danger participation in Beijing." he said.
"Actually there is no better platform for the brand like the NHL.
"It [the Olympics] is a strong brand.
"Not using this platform would be a mistake and, as I said I consider him [Bettman] as a very smart person.
"I think its a risk if he's not coming."
NHL players have participated at every edition of the Winter Olympics since Nagano 1998.
It has not always proved easy to reach consensus in the past, with an agreement for Sochi 2014 reached just seven months before the Opening Ceremony.
In total, the IOC were thought to have contributed around $14 million (£10 million/€13 million) for the Games in Russia.
Around half of this amount was on transportation.
Fasel is confident they can reduce the transportation and insurance costs for Pyeongchang 2018 and estimates the total figure will come to around $10 million (£7 million/€9 million).
He is currently canvassing the ice hockey community to raise this money and believes it would not be a problem.
Fasel, who stood down from the IOC Executive Board last year, did suggest the IOC had made a mistake by relinquishing costs they had already paid in the past.
"We will find a way to cover the expenses" Fasel told insidethegames.
"That shouldn't be a money reason.
"For sure the IOC making this decision, didn't really know.
"It's challenging and we will see what happens if they are not coming, but either way we will have a good hockey tournament."