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IIHF president Fasel apologizes to Crosby for criticism

The Canadian Press

5/20/2010 2:49:18 PM

COLOGNE, Germany -- The president of the International Ice Hockey Federation has called Sidney Crosby's agent to apologize for the Olympic hero's inclusion in an IIHF story that criticized players who decline to take part in the world hockey championship.

Rene Fasel spoke with agent Pat Brisson of CAA Sports one day after the IIHF posted a story titled "Saying No to Your Country" on its website. The story, written by IIHF communications director Szymon Szemberg, said players who chose not to participate were turning "their backs not only on the team and its fans but also to the system which developed them and made them rich and famous."

It named Crosby and other players directly.

"I sincerely believe that Rene Fasel was sorry for the inappropriate comments made towards Sidney and the other players," Brisson told The Canadian Press.

Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson discussed the issue with Fasel on Thursday, calling it a "very positive meeting."

He said Fasel apologized for "the tone" of the article and the way it referred to Crosby.

Nicholson also spoke to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who was among those irked by the tone of the story.

"We thought the IIHF comments were inappropriate and showed a lack of respect for our game and our players," Bettman said in a statement.

Nicholson was also offended.

"We're proud of who is putting on our jersey. ... We're really proud of what we've done over the last number of years at world championships."

On Wednesday, Szemberg told The Canadian Press that both Fasel and general secretary Horst Lichtner knew about the article before it was published. As of Thursday, it remained active on the website.

Nicholson praised Crosby for his commitment to the national team and indicated that he never expected the star forward to make the trip to Germany.

"We did not expect any Olympians to be on this team," said Nicholson. "We are very satisfied with the players that are here. I want to especially thank the National Hockey League owners. It is a privilege for us to have their players put on our jersey and I thank them for allowing us to do that.

"Every federation here should be in the same boat -- whether it is an NHL team or an elite team -- those players are on loan."