February 14 - Canadian and international hockey officials will meet in August to tackle issues such as the future of National Hockey League (NHL) players in the Olympics and disparity in the women's game, it was announced today.

The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), Hockey Canada and the National Hockey League will be part of the four days of discussions from August 23-27 in Toronto, Canada.

"For the first time we will have the world's major hockey organisations together discussing essential issues like the future of hockey within the Olympics and international hockey in general, global development, international tranfers and player safety," said IIHF President Rene Fasel.

One of the issues that will be discussed at the Molson Canadian Open Ice Summit is whether NHL players would be allowed to compete at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.

The NHL has not committed to sending its players to Sochi because it is concerned about the risk of injuries and the length of time it has to shut down its regular schedule to accommodate the Olympics.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said: "The NHL looks forward to participating in the summit and to continue to assist in the growth and development of the game both throughout North America and across the world.

"We also look forward to lending the league's expertise and support on those issues where there is a shared objective as to future direction."

Canada's executive director Steve Yzerman, who won a gold medal with Canada as a player in the 2002 Olympics, claimed it was in the NHL's best interest to let its players compete in the Winter Games.

"It was great to have hockey players involved in Nagano and we would like to see it happen in 2014," Yzerman said.

"It has helped grow the game in Canada and around the world."

One of the other major issues is the disparity in the women's game. Canada opened its defence of its Olympic gold medal last night by crushing Slovakia 18-0 in the most lopsided game in women's Olympic history.

Slovakia is competing in the Games for the first time and their path to Vancouver included an 82-0 demolition of Bulgaria.

"When you have a country like Canada that has 80,000 female players against a country like Slovakia that has 200 females players you are going to get games like yesterday," Fasel said.