By Tom Degun

Mike BabcockJune 8 - Mike Babcock will return to lead the Canadian men's ice hockey team at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games four years after guiding them to gold at Vancouver 2010.

The 50-year-old from Ontario, current head coach of National Hockey League (NHL) side the Detroit Red Wings, became a huge hero at Vancouver 2010 after he helped Team Canada defeat major rivals the United States 3-2 in single overtime in the gold medal match considered one of the greatest moments of the Games.

Babcock stepped down from the role following Vancouver 2010 but will return to the top job for Sochi 2014 with a top coaching staff that is set to feature St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, former Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff and Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien.

But despite an elite coaching staff in place for the Olympics in Russia, there has still been no official decision over whether the NHL will change their season in order to allow players to travel to Sochi and compete for their national teams.

Sochi 2014 is scheduled to take place from February 7 until 23, which means a direct clash with the middle of the NHL season, where the majority of top players are based.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has not yet committed to altering the NHL season to accommodate for the Olympics despite the fact that there was a break in the 2009-2010 season for Vancouver 2010.

This is because Vancouver 2010 proved a major success in exposing hockey to a wider audience but the NHL fear that most games at Sochi 2014 will occur at times that are not ideal for a North American audience.

Team CanadaMike Babcock led the Canadian men’s ice hockey team to gold at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games

International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) President René Fasel, who is also an International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board member, is hopeful the situation will soon be resolved.

"We want the NHL players at the Sochi 2014 Olympics and we are working on a schedule where we are expecting them to compete," Fasel told insidethegames in an interview earlier this year.

"It will be very difficult to adjust the playing schedule in the last minute so we are preparing things early.

"We are on track, we are looking good and we have two great arenas [the Bolshoi Ice Dome and the Shayba Arena] in place for ice hockey at Sochi 2014.

"It is unbelievable actually because it is walking distance for the athletes in the Village.

"It has everything the athletes could want and we also know that the Olympics are the biggest competition in the world.

"So I think the NHL players will want to attend for many reasons and we are expecting them to attend."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related stories
January 2013: Exclusive - Fasel confident NHL players will compete at Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics
January 2012: Putin calls for players to be released from NHL for Sochi 2014
February 2010: Hockey summit to help decide NHL participation at Sochi 2014