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Founders Day outdoor game remains possible

Commissioner Gary Bettman says NHL exploring playing one Nov. 26, 2017

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

TORONTO -- As part of its Centennial Celebration, the NHL is exploring the possibility of playing an outdoor game on Nov. 26, 2017, the 100th anniversary of the League's founding. But a location has yet to be determined, Commissioner Gary Bettman said Monday.

The League had explored the feasibility of playing a game on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, but Commissioner Bettman said the Canada government indicated that wasn't a realistic possibility and the Ottawa Senators haven't expressed an interest in hosting an outdoor game somewhere else in the city.

"So we're going to see if we want to play a game on Founders Day somewhere else, and by that I mean in a different city," Commissioner Bettman said after speaking at the 2016 PrimeTime Sports & Entertainment Conference. "We haven't made any decisions."

The NHL has three outdoor games planned for this season, including the 2017 Scotiabank NHL Centennial Classic between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto on Jan. 1. The game is a kickoff for the League's yearlong centennial celebration.

Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly specifically was asked about the potential for playing an outdoor game in Montreal at Percival Molson Memorial Stadium, which is the 25,000-seat home of the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League. 

Daly said there are venue capacity issues with planning a game in Montreal.

"We're having one in [Toronto] for the Centennial Classic and there's additional seating in that building that's been just recently created, but that's on the low end of what can accommodate a game like this," Daly said of Exhibition Stadium, which seats 30,991. "If you're not looking at a facility that has between 30,000 and 40,000, I would say you're on the low end."

 

NHL not sure on future World Cup format

Commissioner Bettman said the League is committed to doing the World Cup of Hockey again, but he's not sure on the format for the event or when it would next be played.

"There's are a whole host of issues on timing," Commissioner Bettman said during a 1-on-1 interview with Gord Miller of TSN during the PrimeTime Sports & Entertainment Conference. "We're in discussions with the [NHL] Players' Association to figure out exactly what the best sequence of events would be. Four years is clearly a possibility. So is three. So is five. We have to look at the overall calendar of everything else that's going on that could impact it before we make that decision."

Commissioner Bettman said the League has not yet conducted its debrief on the World Cup of Hockey 2016, which ended with Team Canada winning the championship Sept. 30, because the focus immediately turned to getting the 2016-17 season started.

"In the next few weeks, that's something we'll do," Commissioner Bettman said. "We'll decide how many teams, what the teams will be, whether or not we'll do Team North America and Team Europe again."

 

Seattle not on the radar yet

The news out of Seattle last month that has created optimism for the construction of a multisport arena in the city's industrial district is not yet a factor for the NHL and the potential to look for future expansion to the Pacific Northwest, Commissioner Bettman and Daly said.

"We're not paying a lot of attention to Seattle," Commissioner Bettman said. "If they ever put a shovel in the ground and actually build a building instead of just talking about one, we might pay attention. But it's not something we're monitoring. We're not focusing on future expansion at this point and we're not focusing on Seattle over anywhere else."

Daly said the League's only focus regarding expansion is to get Las Vegas up and running for next season. Las Vegas will unveil its team name and logo at an event at T-Mobile Arena on Nov. 22.

"I certainly wouldn't rule out the possibility of further expansion at some point in the future, but it's certainly not on the radar screen today," Daly said. "Our primary focus on the expansion front is making sure Las Vegas gets in successfully and that everything we've put into place for them to enter the League progresses the way it was intended to progress."

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