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Gary Bettman doesn’t see NHL players at 2022 Olympics

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NHL commissioner Gary Bettman believes the league will not participate in the Olympics for the forseeable future, unless the Winter Games return to the U.S. or Canada.

The 2022 Winter Olympics are in Beijing. A decision on NHL participation there is not expected until after the PyeongChang Olympics.

Will we ever see NHL players in the Olympics again, Bettman was asked by a Swedish TV station in an interview published last week:

“I never say never, but I find it hard to envision a scenario where it makes sense, unless, possibly, if the Winter Games are back in North America where the time frame and the attention and the logistics, travel, are a lot different,” Bettman said.

Bettman was in Stockholm for the NHL Global Series. The Colorado Avalanche and Ottawa Senators played games in in the Swedish capital on Friday and Saturday.

The NHL announced in April that it would not participate in the PyeongChang Olympics, ending a streak of five straight Winter Games with participation from the league.

The NHL did not participate in Olympics prior to 1998.

In recent years, Bettman said that the NHL was more open to participating at the Beijing Olympics than the PyeongChang Winter Games.

“The question is would the fact that the Winter Olympics in Beijing would introduce that country to hockey, give us an opportunity to make a real impression in China, where hockey is really in an embryonic state?” Bettman said in November 2015. “And that’s a discussion we have to have to determine whether or not there is an opportunity to grow the game in China by using the Winter Games with NHL players as a catalyst. That’s the question. I don’t know the answer.”

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Who will be on U.S., Canada Olympic men’s hockey rosters? (video)

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It’s now clear that many NHL veterans will be playing at the Olympics.

The biggest name among potential roster pools? Jarome Iginla.

NHL expert Darren Dreger confirmed Wednesday that Hockey Canada reached out to the three-time Olympian Iginla and that the 40-year-old considered playing in a pre-Olympic tournament.

Iginla, dealing with hip issues, is unlikely to suit up in one of Canada’s remaining pre-Olympic tournaments, Dreger said on NBCSN on Wednesday night.

That doesn’t rule him out of PyeongChang. Hockey Canada has repeated that if Iginla, currently a free agent, wants to return to the Olympics, he must be playing somewhere (other than the NHL).

“If he’s healthy enough, and there’s enough will there, then he’ll play for Team Canada,” Dreger said.

Dreger also mentioned notable Team USA prospects, including ex-NHLers Mark Arcobello and Matt Gilroy, who are among the headliners on the roster for a pre-Olympic tournament in Germany next week.

Plus collegians. Namely Denver’s Troy Terry, who appeared at a September Team USA media summit for PyeongChang hopefuls across all sports, and Harvard’s Ryan Donato.

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MORE: Iginla still possible for Team Canada

Jarome Iginla still possible for Canada Olympic hockey team

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Jarome Iginla, a six-time NHL All-Star currently a free agent at age 40, could still make the Canadian Olympic hockey team, Hockey Canada CEO Tom Renney reportedly said Wednesday.

Iginla, who recently underwent a hip procedure, was invited to play in a pre-Olympic tournament for Canada this month but declined, according to Sportsnet.

“Jarome is going to have to be playing hockey [to have a shot at the Olympic team],” Renney said, according to the report. “It’s one thing to talk about names that could play. If those people aren’t playing … ”

Jarome is not playing hockey, at least in a competitive league, at the moment. He obviously can’t play in the NHL and the Olympics. Canada has another pre-Olympic tournament in mid-December.

Iginla, an Olympian in 2002, 2006 and 2010, split last season between the Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings but did not re-sign with LA.

Iginla would be by far the biggest star on either the U.S. or Canadian Olympic hockey teams with no active NHL players participating for the first time since 1994.

MORE: Olympic hockey schedule

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