TAMPA, Fla – NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman questioned on Monday whether the league would send its players to the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing, citing security and logistical concerns as well as a tighter deadline .
“We have real concerns about whether or not it’s reasonable to participate,” Bettman said during his annual Stanley Cup pre-final session with the media.
“We are already past the time that we were hoping this would be resolved,” he added, noting that the league still intends to release its schedule for next season – with or without an Olympic break – before hold the draft on July 23. “We’re going to deal with it, just as we’ve managed to be nimble and flexible over the past 15 months. But we’re getting to be on a pretty short time now because it can’t go on forever.”
Bettman said one of the only reasons the NHL is still in talks with Olympic officials is because the league is committed to doing everything possible to compete in the 2022 Games as part of its convention extension. collective with the NHL Players Association last summer.
The NHL competed in five consecutive Olympics starting in 1998 before skipping the 2018 Games in South Korea.
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly called discussions with Olympic officials a work in progress. Outstanding issues include health issues relating to the coronavirus pandemic, including insurance issues related to COVID-19.
“There are a lot of uncertainties and unknowns that we’re trying to grapple with, and it takes time,” Daly said.
Previous issues that made the NHL reluctant to compete were health insurance and travel costs, as well as access to marketing rights. The NHL has also expressed concern over the benefit of taking its regular season off for two weeks when the Olympics are held in Asia. The games are played early in the morning in North America due to the time difference.
International Ice Hockey Federation president René Fasel told The Associated Press he hoped a resolution could be found with the NHL and its players to compete in Beijing. He said the NHL currently has two schedules in place for next season, one featuring an Olympic break and the other not.
“Things come and go, but no stress. We’ll see, ”Fasel said over the phone. “I can’t speak for the NHL and I just hope they say they come. That’s it.”
Bettman has confirmed that the economic blow the NHL has suffered as a result of the pandemic has led the league to change its approach to support a professional women’s hockey league in North America. Bettman urged the National Women’s Hockey League and the Association of Professional Women Hockey Players to bridge their differences first.
“If you want to jump into a new league, you’ve got to have all the ducks in a row,” Bettman said. “And our hope is that the professional landscape for women can be more unified in the future.”
This is a change from Bettman’s previous position that the NHL would only step in to support a professional women’s league if both entities – the NWHL and the now defunct Canadian Women’s Hockey League – pull out.
Bettman said the NHL had “been a bit distracted” for the past 15 months, referring to the schedules and economic challenges posed by the pandemic.
“We are tremendously supportive of women’s hockey going forward,” said Bettman. “And at the right time and in the right circumstances, we see a role for us as far as we are invited.
The NHL has pledged to spend $ 5 million over the next 18 months on diversity and inclusion efforts in a league that remains predominantly white and has no black coaches or general managers. Daly also said that a hotline established for players, coaches and staff to report racist behavior after Akim Aliu shared his story on former coach Bill Peters had been “up and running” for several months.
“Part of the dynamic of introducing a hotline like this is to make potential people who want to engage with it feel comfortable engaging with it, so it’s by definition a time-consuming process. “said Daly. “I think it was well received.”
The league has announced that it will host an All-Star Weekend in Las Vegas in 2022, with exact dates to be determined.
The Minnesota Wild will host St. Louis for the 13th Annual Winter Classic at Target Field, home of the Major League Baseball Twins, on Jan. 1. t start until the end of January. The Wild hosted an outdoor game in 2016 against Chicago at the University of Minnesota football stadium.
The NHL Stadium Series will see Nashville host Tampa Bay on February 26 at Nissan Stadium, home of the NFL Tennessee Titans.
In other news:
– The league has announced it will host All-Star Weekend in Las Vegas in 2022, with exact dates to be determined.
– The Minnesota Wild will host St. Louis for the 13th Annual Winter Classic at Target Field, home of the Major League Baseball Twins, on Jan. 1. does not start until the end of January. The Wild hosted an outdoor Stadium Series game in 2016 against Chicago at the University of Minnesota football stadium.
The NHL Stadium Series will see Nashville host Tampa Bay on February 26 at Nissan Stadium, home of the Tennessee NFL Titans.