LAS VEGAS (AP) — The NHL is ready to head out into the world again after two years of coronavirus restrictions and a missed Olympics.
Commissioner Gary Bettman announced Friday that the NHL World Series will return next season with preseason games in Germany and Switzerland, followed by regular season games in Finland and the Czech Republic.
The league is also engaged in discussions with players about reviving the World Cup of Hockey for a possible return in 2024, the commissioner said ahead of the All-Star weekend skills competition at T-Mobile Arena. .
“For us, the international scene is a no-brainer,” Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said. “We had built momentum in terms of a bigger and more regular presence of games in Europe. I think with the pandemic waning and hopefully a return to normal, it makes sense to reinvigorate those efforts and to pursue them. It is important for us.
Bettman also said Chicago Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz will not be disciplined or sanctioned for his angry and volatile reaction to reporters’ questions earlier this week.
Wirtz later said he reacted badly to questions about what the organization was doing to address power dynamics between players and coaches in light of accusations made by Kyle Beach, who says he was sexually assaulted by the ex-Blackhawks video coach ten years ago.
“I think it’s been very emotional, frustrating and exhausting for the Blackhawks and Rocky in particular,” Bettman said. “I think it was an emotional moment, for which Rocky – on his own accord – apologized quickly. …I think it was just, you know, we all have a moment at one point or another. And it was a while.
In his usual All-Star Weekend roundup of the NHL’s Major Events calendar, Bettman announced that the Florida Panthers will host the 2023 All-Star Weekend two decades after the first visit of the event in the Miami area. The 2021 weekend was planned in Florida before being canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The next Winter Classic will be at Fenway Park in Boston, while the Carolina Hurricanes will play their first outdoor home game of the Stadium Series at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh next season.
Bettman said the league still intends to hold the 2022 draft with fans at the Bell Center in Montreal on July 7-8, but the event could be moved or held virtually if local coronavirus restrictions don’t. have not been lifted by then.
He said the NHL will also have to consider allowing Canadian teams to play elsewhere if they are still unable to accommodate crowds in the near future. The Canadiens are currently limited to crowds of 500 fans for at least the next two weeks.
The move was very much on Bettman’s mind as he assessed where the league stands after this two-year streak of postponed games and tight crowds across North America.
But Bettman and the league remain confident the Arizona Coyotes won’t have to leave the Phoenix area despite the latest setback in their many years of woes in the arena. The commissioner has confirmed that the Coyotes are considering playing at Arizona State’s unfinished 5,000-seat hockey arena after their contract ends to play at the much-maligned Gila River Arena in Glendale this summer.
“There has to be temporary housing knowing that a new arena is coming,” Bettman said of the possibility of moving to the varsity rink, which opens in the fall.
Despite reports that some NHL owners are annoyed by the Coyotes’ desperate plan to play in a small rink for at least five seasons, Bettman said the league is confident Arizona could be financially competitive in a larger venue. small.
“We’re not sure there will be a material difference between their income at ASU and where they are at Glendale,” Bettman said. “In fact, on a projection we did, we think they could do better.”
Bettman also attempted to criticize the NBA’s Phoenix Suns for their refusal to share Footprint Center.
“I guess they would prefer the Coyotes to leave town,” Bettman said.
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