(CBS) In an interview with the Mully and Hanley Show on Monday morning, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman reiterated his support for having a World Cup-style international hockey tournament instead of having NHL players participate in the Olympics once every four years.
“The World Cup is obviously an option, and it’s desirable on a whole host of levels, not the least of which is we don’t have to do it in the middle of the season,” Bettman said. “But even beyond that, we get to control what goes on. We get to set it up, we get to have the access that we want for our hockey people, for our fans, for our media partners, and that’s something you don’t get with the Olympics. And so the whole combination of factors — and we have a history and tradition of Canada Cups and World Cups — that’s something I’d like to see, and that’s something that we are talking to the players’ association about because when we do international competition like that, we do do that jointly with the players’ association.
“There are a lot of advantages to us and our fans and the game and the players by having a World Cup.”
Of course, the NHL could also potentially share in the revenue of a World Cup hockey tournament, which is a sticking point with the Olympic participation. Owners of teams get no compensation as their players risk injury.
Still, any decision on the NHL pulling its players out of Olympic competition is down the line.
“We haven’t given the Olympics one minute of thought because it’s not something right now that we’re interested in in terms of the immediacy of what’s before us, and that right now is the playoffs,” Bettman said.
Also in the interview, Bettman said the NHL’s string of outdoor games — known this past season as the Stadium Series, in which six outdoor games were played — will continue, though the number hasn’t been set for next season.
“There’s a practical limit to how many games you can do in a season, and I think the six we did this season … I think we stretched our event department and hockey operations departments to their limits in being able to do this and the fact that they had the Olympic break into between was probably one of the things that made it possible,” Bettman said. “Will we continue doing outdoor games? Yes. Fans, players, clubs, cities, stadiums tell us that they love them. You see the response, whether it was in Yankee Stadium or … Soldier Field was nothing short of magical.
“It was simply incredible. Since our fans are telling us they can’t get enough of them, we’re going to continue to do them.”
“We want to move it around … Teams that have had a Winter Classic have said to us, ‘We don’t wait to wait 10 years to do it again. It’s too much fun.'”