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NHL Board deems World Cup of Hockey 2016 a success

League executives happy with tournament, aim to make it fixture on international calendar

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The World Cup of Hockey 2016 met expectations and should be a fixture on the League's international calendar, according to one of the presentations made Friday at the NHL Board of Governors meeting.

"The final take is I think everybody in the room believes, as do we, that we were able to re-establish this event in a very big major way," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said Friday at the conclusion of two days of meetings. "It was very successful. There are a variety of things that we're focused on to do it even better the next time we do it, whenever that might be. I think people were pleased with it, understanding that it's a very small part of our business, but we think it's important when we can to focus on events like that."

Commissioner Bettman said it was too early to discuss potential changes to the format of the tournament, which was played in Toronto in September for the first time in 12 years.

"Personally I thought the World Cup was great," Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis said. "We hosted an exhibition game at Verizon Center. Our fans loved it. Seeing all the world's best players representing their country was a terrific experience. Hope we do it again. I'm very supportive of it."

Chicago Blackhawks president John McDonough said: "There [are] a lot of things that are at issue right now, but for the first one in a while I think everybody was very, very happy, I think it was a success, period. Other issues to address going forward."

Among the issues remaining to be addressed is participation in the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics. No decision on whether the NHL will allow its players to compete in the Olympics for a sixth consecutive time was made during these meetings, although the topic was discussed extensively on the first day.

Commissioner Bettman stressed on Thursday that there was a "strong negative sentiment in the room" regarding the NHL's involvement in the Olympics.

A decision is expected in January.

Commissioner Bettman said the Board members like the timing of the preseason World Cup better than that of the in-season Olympic tournament in February, but he said there were some governors who expressed concern about injuries related to the World Cup. Dallas Stars center Tyler Seguin sustained a leg injury, Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray broke his right thumb and Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad sustained a concussion.

"That's part of the overarching issue on international competition," Commissioner Bettman said.


Concussion spotter program working well

The League and the Board are pleased with how the concussion spotter program is working, especially with the addition of the Central League Spotters this season, Commissioner Bettman said.

The addition of Central League Spotters, unaffiliated medical personnel who work out of the NHL Player Safety room in the League's New York office, bolstered programs already in place in the NHL Concussion Evaluation and Management Protocol. The central spotters are in addition to in-arena spotters for each NHL game, who served in more of an advisory role. The new central spotters have direct contact with each team's medical personnel and are authorized to require a player be removed from a game when that player is suspected of having a concussion.

"Everybody thinks the spotter program is working great, just as it was intended," Commissioner Bettman said. "The reason you have the spotter program is exactly for the instances that people are talking about, because players typically, and you go back through the history of this, don't want to come out of a game.

"We think being cautious, having protocols and enforcing them is the best way to ensure it. Does that mean some players are going to get pulled who didn't have concussions? Sure. But it also means we're going to make sure the players who need to be off the ice are off the ice."


Molson, Chipman join executive committee

In addition to conducting regular League business, the Board of Governors announced its executive committee Friday. Two new members were voted into the group, replacing Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos and the late Ed Snider, the former owner of the Philadelphia Flyers who died on April 11 at age 83.

Montreal Canadiens owner Geoff Molson and Winnipeg Jets executive chairman Mark Chipman were elected as the new members joining Murray Edwards (Calgary Flames), Craig Leipold (Minnesota Wild), Ted Leonsis (Washington Capitals), Henry Samueli (Anaheim Ducks), Larry Tanenbaum (Toronto Maple Leafs), Jeff Vinik (Tampa Bay Lightning), Rocky Wirtz (Chicago Blackhawks) and Jeremy Jacobs (Boston Bruins), who is the chairman of the Board of Governors.

"The one thing I think everybody needs to understand is the senior, respected, involved owners who are on the executive committee are there on behalf of what's in the best interest of the League," Commissioner Bettman said. "They're not there to represent their franchises."

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