A deal between the National Hockey League (NHL) and the players union to allow them to participate at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing could hinge on whether they they will back a World Cup in 2020, it has emerged.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly has claimed the situation on whether the world's leading players will be allowed to take part at Beijing 2022 has still not been discussed.
But preliminary talks about staging a World Cup have opened and the NHL Players Association could agree to support that in return for letting its members participate in the Olympic Games.
Insurance, transportation and housing cost issues led NHL club owners to deny players the opportunity to compete at this year's Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang.
The NHL had shut down for the previous five Winter Olympics, starting for Nagano 1998, so the players could represent their countries.
There is currently no deal set for NHL players to compete at Beijing 2022, although the League staged pre-season games between the Boston Bruins and Calgary Flames at Shenzhen and Beijing in September as part of a planned expansion into the Chinese market.
"There's nothing new on the subject," Daly told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
"You've heard what our owners' position is on the subject.
"We know the players very much are in support of participating in the Olympics.
"We're going to have discussions between now and then and we'll see where it goes."
Daly admitted the League needs assurances with the NHL Players Association before it can begin serious planning for a World Cup event after having a 2004 event that ended just before a shutdown which wiped out an entire NHL season.
"We really need labour certainty to play it. It didn't work so well in 2004 when we tried that," Daly told AFP.
The last World Cup was staged in 2016 and won by Canada, who beat Europe in the best-of-three final.
The current deal between the NHL and Players Association is currently due to expire in 2022 but both sides can re-open it in September 2019 and then have the contract expire after the 2019-20 campaign.
That could represent the players best chance to gain an assurance they will be allowed to compete at Beijing 2022.