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American NHL players could skip IIHF world championships

USA TODAY SPORTS logo USA TODAY SPORTS 3/27/2017 A.J. Perez
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The Maple Leafs' Auston Matthews played on the men's IIHL world championship team in 2016. © Gary A. Vasquez, USA TODAY Sports The Maple Leafs' Auston Matthews played on the men's IIHL world championship team in 2016.

American NHL players plan skip participation of the men's IIHF World Championships in May if USA Hockey uses replacement players at the women's IIHF World Championships, USA TODAY Sports confirmed on Sunday.

USA Hockey continued to seek out replacement players during the weekend, although it has struggled mightily to land enough players to fill out the roster as several would-be players took to social media to state they had rebuffed offers to play. The 23 current members of the U.S. women’s national team announced March 15 their plans to boycott the tournament after negotiations that centered around more financial support stalled.

The women's world championships are set to begin in Plymouth, Mich., on Friday.

If USA Hockey is unable to come to terms with the current team members and instead uses replacement players, it would “trigger” a boycott of the men’s world championships, a person with knowledge of the talks amongst NHL players who is not authorized to speak publicly told USA TODAY Sports.

USA Hockey has called an emergency board meeting for Monday to discuss the negations with the women’s national team players.The men's world championships take place each May, and last year’s 24-player roster for Team USA included 16 NHL players. The tournament doesn’t draw in exclusively NHL players since it takes place during the league's Stanley Cup Playoffs.

If the two sides don’t come to an agreement and the standoff prolongs, the U.S. men’s players in the NHL could also choose to skip the Winter Olympics, the person with knowledge of the talks said. Granted, the NHL has yet to come to terms on a deal with the IIHF, hockey’s international governing body, to send its players to the Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, next year.

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