ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) _ NHL players will be going to the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City.

The announcement today comes after the International Ice Hockey Federation reached an agreement with the NHL and NHL Players' Association.

This will be the second time the NHL will be represented at the Winter Games.

At the 1998 Nagano Olympics, the NHL was embarrassed when players on the U.S. squad trashed furniture in the Olympic village following the team's elimination from the tournament.

The Czech Republic won the gold medal in the last Olympics.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was pleased the details could be worked out with the federation.

``We look forward to having the best hockey players in the world participate at Salt Lake City,'' Bettman said from New York.

The IIHF is expected to ratify the agreement this week and approval by the NHLPA is expected in June.

The three groups also agreed to hold a second World Cup of Hockey in 2004. The United States beat Canada to win the last World Cup in 1996.