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Talks end without deal to allow NHL players for Sochi

(Reuters) - The National Hockey League (NHL) and Olympic officials ended two days of talks on Friday without an agreement that would free players to take part in the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.

With the countdown to the Sochi Olympics now less than a year away, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, NHL Players Association (NHLPA) chief Donald Fehr, International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) president Rene Fasel and representatives from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) met on Thursday and again for nearly three hours on Friday at the league's New York headquarters to try and hammer out a deal.

The NHL and NHLPA had no comment on the progress of negotiations and there was no announcement about plans for future talks, though Fasel warned the clock was ticking.

"Meetings were held in a very constructive and positive atmosphere," said Fasel on the IIHF Twitter account. "All parties put all their concerns and issues on the table.

"Now all parties are going back to work on details in order to put together an agreement.

"There is no deadline but obviously we are under a certain time pressure. Olympics are one year from now."

The NHL is widely expected to return to the Olympic lodge but is seeking some form of compensation from the IOC for shutting down for two weeks in the middle of the season and turning over the players.

Local media have reported the league wants to increase its influence and be treated more like a rights holder or top sponsor such as McDonald's, able to trade on the Olympic brand to help sell and promote their product.

The NHL has also indicated it wants access to video and other media from the Games to use on their websites.

The league has also long complained about the access to players by team owners, doctors and league officials during the Winter Olympics.

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

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