Not surprisingly, Bettman brought up the World Cup of Hockey again while brushing off questions about the NHL's future Olympic participation. It's been 10 years since the last World Cup of Hockey, with the first taking place eight years before that, but Bettman seems to think there's a chance of it returning in the near future.
"I believe in the not too distant future the NHL and NHLPA will be in a position to talk about other international initiatives that we're discussing, including bringing back the World Cup," Bettman said. "We see international competition on the horizon. It's really just a question of what the format will be."
Hockey fans are rightfully skeptical about any declarations that Bettman makes, but this would be the right call for everyone involved. It would give casual fans means of discovering the sport at various levels of play and it would give die-hard fans more hockey, which none of them would pass up. More importantly, it would give the NHL a chance to stabilize itself, fall into a regular routine and put forth a consistent product that won't rile the regulars or require detailed explanation for newcomers.
In a league largely defined by the wrong decisions Bettman has made, taking a step back from the Olympics is the right one. The NHL needs realistic solutions if it wants to stay relevant to U.S. hockey fans and become more relevant to U.S. sports as a whole.
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Hockey fans may have to put up with medals being awarded to no-names and less-than-familiar faces, but it beats draping them over athletes at the peak of their sport while they're relatively anonymous to the country they're representing.
-- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore.
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