Pyeongchang 2018 President Lee Hee-beom remains hopeful the NHL could reverse their decision ©Getty Images

Pyeongchang 2018 President Lee Hee-beom remains hopeful the National Hockey League (NHL) will reverse their decision to prevent players from competing at next year’s Winter Olympics.

His latest comments come after the league's bosses revealed the 2017-2018 calendar, which is scheduled to run from October 5 to April 7, with no break for the Games factored in.

The NHL issued a statement in April claiming their players would not travel to South Korea for next year's Winter Olympic Games.

International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) President René Fasel said last month that a final decision on whether players will take part must be made by mid-July at the absolute latest.

He also revealed that he was still negotiating with both the NHL and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in an attempt to broker a deal.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman claimed recently that they were not going to change their mind having confirmed in April that their athletes would not officially be allowed to compete at the event in South Korea.

In response to their statement, IOC President Thomas Bach said that the offer from the IIHF to cover the travel and insurance costs was "off the table" for both Pyeongchang 2018 and Beijing 2022.

Lee has claimed the NHL’s decision may have been part of an ongoing negotiation and that a deal might yet been reached.

"I think the NHL is trying to take an upper hand in the negotiation," Lee said, according to Yonhap.

"It's premature to say definitively that the NHL will not participate."

The absence of NHL players from the Olympics would be a blow to Pyeongchang 2018 ©Getty Images
The absence of NHL players from the Olympics would be a blow to Pyeongchang 2018 ©Getty Images

Bettman recently rejected suggestions that the NHL might reconsider as he confirmed Tampa in Florida as the host city of its 2018 All-Star weekend on January 27 and January 28.

The All-Star weekend will be the first to be held in an Olympic year since 2002, when Salt Lake City staged the Games.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly has also poured cold water on suggestions their decision will be reversed.

“No talks with any entities regarding NHL player participation in the 2018 Olympics,” he said, according to Russian news agency TASS.

“The matter is formally closed.”

Bettman had also claimed the NHL’s participation at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing had not been discussed with officials during a recent trip to China.

He insisted they were more concerned about receiving help from the NHL with their aim to increase the country’s participation in winter sports.

The NHL is planning to play two exhibition games in China in September, when the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks will travel to Shanghai and Beijing respectively.

In return, China intends to aid the NHL’s focus on growing its business in the country.

The IIHF and the IOC are thought to be hopeful NHL players will compete in the Beijing, which hosted the Summer Olympics in 2008, in five years' time as they are keen to tap into the Chinese market.