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NHL in no rush to discuss Winter Olympic plans

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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — The NHL isn’t going to get drawn into any discussions about participating in future Winter Olympics until after the PyeongChang Games are complete.

Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said that’s the answer he provided to International Ice Hockey Federation general secretary Horst Lichtner on Friday.

Daly and Lichtner happened to sit together during the first period of the world junior hockey championship outdoor game between the United State and Canada being played at New Era Field.

Daly said the two talked little business, though he noted Lichtner did ask when the NHL might be ready to discuss its plans regarding the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing.

Daly said his response was: “Certainly not any time before PyeongChang.”

Citing monetary and logistical concerns, including the time difference between North America and Asia, the NHL elected against having its players compete at the Winter Games in February for the first time since 1994.

Daly said it was premature for him to publicly discuss the league’s plans regarding Beijing.

“The issues with each Olympics are different,” Daly said. “Obviously, some of the logistical difficulties we have with South Korea will be the same in China. But maybe there are some opportunities in China that aren’t in South Korea.”

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Jarome Iginla invited to last pre-Olympic tournament, report says

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Jarome Iginla, a six-time NHL All-Star, reportedly has an invitation from Hockey Canada to play in its last pre-Olympic tournament, opening the door for him to be the most decorated player in PyeongChang.

The 40-year-old and three-time Olympian is currently a free agent and coming off a hip procedure. If he does not sign with an NHL team, Iginla remains eligible for the Olympics.

“He had conversations with Team Canada this week,” hockey insider Elliotte Friedman said Saturday. “He’s going to begin skating … in about a week or two. I think Team Canada has re-extended the invitation. If he wants to play in the Spengler Cup before the Olympics [the last week of December], there will be a spot for him.”

Iginla was reportedly also invited to a previous pre-Olympic tournament for Canada but did not participate.

He is the only previous Olympian believed to be in the running for Canada’s 25-man roster for PyeongChang.

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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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