Olympics-NHLPA denies banning Germans from Games training camp

BERLIN, July 22 Wed Jul 22, 2009 8:51am EDT

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BERLIN, July 22 (Reuters) - The NHL players' association (NHLPA) denied on Wednesday it had forced German ice hockey players to miss a pre-Olympic training camp because of concerns they would not be adequately insured in case of injury.

Eight German NHL players signed up for this week's four-day camp but the German federation said they could not attend because the NHL and NHLPA had insisted at "very short notice" that their players' multi-million dollar contracts were properly insured.

The camp is the start of the team's preparations ahead of the Vancouver Winter Olympics in February.

The NHLPA said it had never made any demands about insurance but had simply advised players that the training camps might not be providing enough to cover their contracts or future earnings should they get injured there.

"While our NHLPA members look forward to the opportunity to represent their countries at the Olympics, it is unreasonable to request that players participate in on-ice summer orientation sessions without sufficient insurance against injuries," Paul Kelly, NHLPA executive director, said on Wednesday.

"We have recommended that our members give strong consideration to the risks involved in participating should proper insurance coverage not be provided," Kelly said in an e-mailed statement to Reuters.

The German federation had said on Monday "the NHL as well as the NHLPA for the first time and at short notice demand from the national federations salary insurance coverage for the players even for on-ice training units".

The NHL has had a rocky relationship for years with the international federation (IIHF) and national federations over the participation of their players in the Olympics.

The NHL has argued the league's momentum is lost when it is forced to interrupt the season for more than two weeks to send players to the Games.

IIHF president Rene Fasel has called the endeavour to bring NHL players to the Games "a challenge or a nightmare". (Editing by Sonia Oxley; To comment on this story: sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com)

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