Contracts of all players at camp covered

TORONTO -- Hockey Canada will insure the contracts of every player participating in next week's Olympic orientation camp in Calgary, avoiding a possible disruption to the team's training session ahead of the Vancouver Winter Games.

Hockey Canada did not say how much it paid for the policy to insure the 46 players' contracts, which according to estimates are worth almost $500 million dollars.

"We have looked at the insurance issue of the men's players coming into the orientation camp and Hockey Canada will be fully covering the players' insurance package for this camp," Hockey Canada's president Bob Nicholson told reporters on a conference call on Friday.

"This includes from game one of the National Hockey League to the end of all of their contracts.

"The players won't have questions about insurance and will be comfortable as they hit the ice for three days in Calgary."

The issue had threatened to become a major distraction for the camp that will run from Aug 24-27.

Last month, the NHL Players Association advised members taking part in national team training camps their contracts were not fully insured and recommended they avoid on-ice activities.

NHL teams are not responsible for insuring players for the Olympic or world championships.

"The NHLPA is pleased to learn today that Hockey Canada has decided to provide full insurance coverage for NHLPA members who have been invited to participate in the Canadian Olympic orientation camp next week in Calgary," NHLPA president Paul Kelly in a statement.

"The health and well-being of our members is of paramount importance to this association, and our members would have been exposed to significant risk without the full coverage that is now being provided."

Nicholson said an intra-squad game planned for Aug. 27 is almost sold out and he expects to make $400,000 from the contest, which will help cover the cost of the insurance policy.

"If one of our top players got hurt and wasn't being paid for the first 30 games [of the NHL season] I know what the storylines would be in this country," said Nicholson.

"We have created a lot of revenue out of the world juniors, world championships, World Cups because these players participated for us and ...we don't pay players for that.

"This is just giving back to them, saying thank you."