National Hockey League (NHL) deputy commissioner Bill Daly says it is premature to discuss future involvement in the Olympic Games, following their decision to prevent their players from competing at Pyeongchang 2018.
The world's leading league announced in April that players would not travel to South Korea for the Games, with efforts to change the decision having proved fruitless in the following months.
This meant they would miss out on competing at the event for the first time since their debut appearance at Nagano 1998.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman claimed in November that restrictions on Olympic promotion and supposedly mixed interest among NHL clubs were part of the reasoning for their decision.
He also suggested the NHL would be unlikely to return to the programme for any Winter Olympic Games held outside North America.
It had been thought, however, that they were keener to return for Beijing 2022 due to the commercial opportunities offered in the Chinese market.
Daly offered a more conciliatory position when attending the International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championships in Buffalo, suggesting it was premature to make any declaration about future participation.
“Each Olympics is different, there’s a different value proposition,” he said, according to the star.com.
“These particular Olympics that are coming up, ultimately the negatives outweighed the positives for our owners.
“I don’t know what Beijing will hold.
“The logistical issues that we have with South Korea will be the same with China, but maybe there are some other opportunities in China that aren’t in South Korea.
“We will see.”
The International Olympic Committee's (IOC) refusal to continue covering travel and insurance costs of NHL players was blamed for the failure to reach a deal for Pyeongchang.
The International Ice Hockey Federation did subsequently offer to cover these fees, but, after a deal was not reached, IOC President Thomas Bach said this was "off the table" for both Pyeongchang 2018 and Beijing 2022.
Daly acknowledged that some players have expressed disappointment at not being able to compete at next month’s Games.
However, he claimed that they have now put that behind them, rejecting concerns some NHL players may opt out of participating at their all-star game at the end of the month in protest.