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Commissioner Gary Bettman covers several NHL topics at annual address

All-Star Game, Stadium Series, international events among highlights

by Lisa Dillman @reallisa / Staff Writer

PITTSBURGH -- NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on Monday announced a schedule of special events for the 2017-18 season, including the 2018 NHL All-Star Game, which will be held at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida on Jan. 28, and a 2018 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Washington Capitals at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland on March 3.

Bettman gave his State of the League address before the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators played Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final at PPG Paints Arena. He touched on the ambitious international offering of events, ranging from the 2017 NHL China Games presented by O.R.G. Packaging, preseason games between the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks on Sept. 21 and 23, to the 2017 SAP NHL Global Series in Sweden, two regular-season games between the Colorado Avalanche and Ottawa Senators on Nov. 10 and 11.

Bettman said the outdoor game between the Capitals and Maple Leafs will launch a series of Coors Light NHL Stadium Series games at U.S. military academies over the next few seasons.

He said the All-Star event, which will include the NHL All-Star Skills Competition on Jan. 27, and the game, which will use the 3-on-3 format for a third straight season, will be a way to celebrate the host city of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"We are looking forward to bringing the 2018 NHL All-Star celebration to the Tampa Bay area," Commissioner Bettman said. "In addition to the events on the ice, we're planning outside activities which will embrace the Tampa Bay community, as well as the Florida sunshine. We know [Lightning chairman and governor] Jeff Vinik, the Lightning and Amalie Arena will be outstanding hosts as the NHL family gathers for our midseason showcase."

Video: Bettman on coaches challenge, global hockey, 2018 ASG

The Commissioner addressed a variety of topics, including video review, the rationale for the preseason games in China, the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, and the possibility of Nashville hosting an outdoor game.

On potential changes to the video review process:

"One of the things we're going to look at is exactly how much time a coach is going to get to challenge it. Sometimes the officials take a little too long to go to the bench, the coaches do a variety of things to take more time to look at the video.

"We're going to contemplate the possibility, and we have to work this out, of putting a clock on how much time there is once a goal is scored. But beyond that, we think it's working the way it was intended to."

On the status of the upcoming international calendar:

"We obviously are going to play the preseason games in China and the regular-season games in Sweden. We had as part of discussions toward the end of last year, we had hoped to develop with the [NHL] Players' Association a robust calendar over a nine-year period that would have included two World Cups, possibly the two Olympics, and what we've been calling the two Ryder Cups, in addition to a variety of other ventures.

"But that kind of got derailed because it wasn't something that we could get traction on with the Players' Association."

Bettman later gave additional background behind the lack of traction, saying that the League met with the Players' Association in November to talk about future World Cups.

"We said, 'Conceptually, that's a great idea, except we each have a reopener (of the collective bargaining agreement), exercisable by notice in September of 2019, effective by notice September of 2020.' If we're going to plan a World Cup of 2020, we either need to give up the reopener or pick a different date.

"... We said, 'Pick a different year or let's go back to our constituents and see if there's any interest in giving up the reopener.' It wasn't a demand, it wasn't a proposal. It was a suggestion, talking points. We said, 'If we're both going to give up our reopeners, and we extend by three years, we could encompass two Olympics, two World Cups, two Ryder Cups, build the international business together in a way we hope to, do a whole host of other initiatives."

Video: Bettman, Daly on concussions, Olympics, salary cap

On growing the game in China:

"We're working very hard and [we're] very focused with developing the Chinese market in part because we have been told by the Chinese government at very high levels that there is, leading to 2022, a priority to develop winter sports. I was told by the minister of sport when I was there about a month ago that they would like to see 300 million more participants in winter sports, particularly and including hockey.

"We said we would work very closely with the government to try to help grow the game at all levels. They said they would help us grow the business of the game at all levels. So it looks like the making of a very good partnership.

"The issue of the Olympics of 2022 in all my meetings when I was in Beijing never came up, and I think the focus is more about long-term developing the sport, not necessarily what happens for two weeks in 2022."

On if NHL participation in the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics in South Korea was a settled issue:

"Six weeks ago, we were very clear and definitive that the teams had no interest in going to the Olympics in PyeongChang."

Was it still an open issue?

"It is not and has not been."

On the possibility of signature events being held in Nashville:

"An outdoor game in Nashville at some point might be nice. They have a nice outdoor stadium, actually a couple to choose from."

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