NHL players set for World Cup of Hockey; Olympics unclear

Staff Writer

TORONTO (AP) — The World Cup of Hockey is coming back.

Rene Fasel hopes next year's international competition doesn't lead to the NHL and its players skipping the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. The 2022 Winter Games will be in China.

"Where we can really help our sport grow is in Asia," said Fasel, the president of the International Ice Hockey Federation, in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "If we can make our sport strong there, we really will have a great future."

Fasel said he is working on a date to begin Olympic-related discussions with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHL Players' Association Executive Director Don Fehr.

Bettman, Fehr and several players are to attend a news conference Wednesday to promote the World Cup of Hockey, which hasn't been held since 2004. The eight-team, two-week tournament event will be held in Toronto, where the host Canadians will likely be a strong favorite against a field that includes the United States, Russia, Sweden, Finland, the Czech Republic along with 23-and-under players from North America and European countries such as Switzerland, Slovenia and Germany.

NHL players have competed in the Olympics since 1998, creating an elite tournament that has become one of the Olympics' most popular events.

While participating players enjoy the experience, team owners don't seem to like shutting down their league for two-plus weeks in the middle of the season and hoping their stars don't get injured.

"If you want to grow the game globally, you have to take risks every four years that some of your top players will be injured," Fasel said.



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