DELICATE negotiations impacting the state of hockey are under way in New York this week.

That's not a misprint. The future of NHL hockey is finally secure, with a 10-year deal after a 119-day lockout, but the fate of NHL players attending the 2014 Olympic Winter Games is still very much up in the air.

The torch will be lit in Sochi, Russia, on Feb. 6, 2014 - just 356 days from now - and no agreement has been reached for NHL participation for the fifth straight Winter Games. Honchos from the league, NHL Players' Association (NHLPA) and International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) met for 90 minutes on Thursday and will gather again on Friday to decide whether to halt league play next February.

That's big news for the Flyers, who currently have six surefire participants on their roster: Claude Giroux (Canada), Kimmo Timonen (Finland), Ilya Bryzgalov (Russia), Jake Voracek (Czech Republic) and Andrej Meszaros (Slovakia). Nick Grossmann (Sweden) is also a strong candidate.

"I don't know why it's even a discussion why we shouldn't go to the Olympics," Voracek said Thursday. "I could see if it was every year, but it's only every 4 years. I don't know why they couldn't work out the schedule right now. For most of us players, it's a dream come true to be an Olympian for your home country. I would be pretty sad if we couldn't."

Some players, like Russian Alex Ovechkin, have already vowed to leave their NHL clubs next year - even without an official agreement - to participate. His Washington Capitals owner, Ted Leonsis, has already granted him permission.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said Thursday he remains committed to Olympic participation "under the right circumstances."

Negotiations began under testy circumstances after IIHF president and IOC executive board member Rene Fasel said last week that Bettman had "no other choice" but to allow players to go, and that it was "ego from some people in North America" that was keeping it from happening.

The sticking point does not seem to be the scheduling of the events, but rather the business breakdown. Since the iron-fisted IOC runs the Winter Games, the NHL not only receives no cut of the profits, but it also has no say in ticketing. For instance, if Flyers chairman Ed Snider wanted to see Giroux play, the NHL would have no way of securing tickets or a luxury box to host executives.

In fact, the NHL can't even use the Olympic ring image - and has no rights to video from the Games.

Since ice hockey is the most popular of the Winter Games sports, the IOC should bend a little. To not follow up on the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, which featured Sidney Crosby's gold-medal winning goal in overtime for Canada over the United States, would be a crime for all hockey fans.

"I've done it four times and every time it's been a good experience," said Timonen, noting it would likely be his last Finnish national team appearance. "Not just thinking about myself, it's good for hockey. Hockeywise, it's great, full rinks and people love hockey. As a player, if we can go there, I'm happy to do it."

Timonen and Mike Richards (Canada) represented the Flyers in 2010. Vancouver made logistics easy, but Timonen said jumping right back into the NHL schedule was tough. The Olympics ended on a Sunday, the Flyers played in Tampa Bay on Tuesday night. The NHL took a total of 18 days off.

Giroux, then 22, watched Crosby's golden goal at home in hockey-mad Canada.

"It was a good experience just watching. To be a part of it would be unbelievable," Giroux said. "It's the best hockey you can get. Hockey is Canada's sport, it's an important thing. It's every kid's dream to win a gold medal for your country. Obviously, it would be hard on your body, but you don't think twice about it."

Meszaros skates

Defenseman Andrej Meszaros was back on the ice Thursday for the first time since injuring his left shoulder on Jan. 24 against the Rangers. Meszaros did not have surgery, but has tried to strengthen the area that's giving him problems.

A return date is unclear, and it may take a couple more weeks for him to heal. He wore a yellow, non-contact jersey in drills.

"I'm doing better than I thought," Meszaros said when asked about his shooting. "I feel I am progressing. Obviously, I'm not where I want to be, as yet. We'll see how the next few weeks go."

Meszaros, 27, has played just five games (including playoffs) since last March 1, sitting out with three different serious injuries (herniated disc, torn Achilles' tendon, shoulder).

Slap shots

The Flyers skated for more than 75 minutes on Thursday, which will be their only practice this week . . . Nick Grossmann (maintenance) sat out practice, while Sean Couturier (flu) returned to the ice for the first time since missing Monday and Tuesday's games . . . Scott Hartnell (broken foot) will visit a doctor Friday to receive clearance to begin skating Saturday . . . Jarmo Kekalainen, hired by Columbus on Wednesday as the NHL's first European-born general manager, was Kimmo Timonen's first agent . . . New Eagles defensive-line coach Jerry Azzinaro was the running backs coach at Westfield State (Mass.) University in 1985, at the same time Flyers coach Peter Laviolette played hockey there.