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NHL decision on 2018 Olympics to come within about 1 year

Gary Bettman

WINNIPEG, MB - APRIL 20: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman talks to the media prior to Game Three of the Western Conference Quarterfinals between the Anaheim Ducks and Winnipeg Jets during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the MTS Centre on April 20, 2015 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Marianne Helm/Getty Images)

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A decision on the NHL’s potential participation in the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympics -- and possibly the Beijing 2022 Winter Games as well -- will be made within about the next year, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said Monday.

“Somewhere in approximately the next year, we’re going to have to make a decision,” Bettman told media in Toronto. “I think they [the IIHF] either want us in for both [2018 and 2022] or not.”

NHL participation began with the Nagano 1998 Winter Games and continued at Salt Lake City 2002, Torino 2006, Vancouver 2010 and Sochi 2014.

The Winter Games return to East Asia for the first time since Nagano at Pyeongchang and Beijing. The NHL has not yet committed to participating.

“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 told media Monday. “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.”

NHL players will participate in the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto in September, the first edition of that international event since 2004.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the two Olympics in North America were more favorable experiences for the NHL than in the farther-away Olympics, according to NHL.com.

“Certainly, we view growth of our fan base and into markets where we might not have been before to be a priority for the league, and that may create opportunities to kind of build hockey’s profile in Asia, which ultimately is a long-term goal of the league,” Daly said, according to the website.

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