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Open Ice Summit planned for summer

by Shawn P. Roarke / NHL.com
VANCOUVER -- This summer, the hockey world will gather in Toronto in August for the second Open Ice Summit.

The National Hockey League will join the National Hockey League Players' Association, the International Ice Hockey Federation and Hockey Canada to discuss the future of the sport, specifically player development and the growth of the game on an international level.

"It's really an opportunity to participate on an advisory level on issues that are important in the hockey world," NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said Sunday afternoon. "Obviously, the National Hockey League has an important perspective in trying to frame those issues and we are gratified that Hockey Canada and the IIHF thought it important to invite us and have us participate."

The IIHF, in conjunction with Hockey Canada, held a press conference Sunday to announce the details of the Summit in late August, which comes a little more than a decade after the first summit. That '99 Summit changed the face of the game in Canada.
 
At the time, Bob Nicholson was just getting involved with Hockey Canada. Today, he is the president of Hockey Canada and one of the driving forces behind the 2010 Summit.

"I thought, 'Holy smokes, the game's getting ripped apart,'" Nicholson said when discussing the '99 Summit. "I look back 10 years later and it is the best platform we have to make a difference in minor hockey in the country."

Now, they want to spread the benefits of a healthy examination of the game to the global community.

Rene Fasel, the head of the IIHF, is passionate about growing the game across the globe, especially in non-traditional hockey markets. He believes that exposure to the game will stimulate the growth, and that is why he is so excited about the Olympic hockey tournaments that are going on in Vancouver.

"First we have to build (rinks) and then the coaches and people that work with hockey will come," Fasel said. "It's a long, long process to build up the game globally.
 
"But the best thing to build up the game globally is a tournament like the Olympics where we can show the world -- three billion TV spectators -- we can show the best on the best, and the kids start to dream and they push the parents; I want to play hockey. Then, they start to build ice rinks. But you have to promote the product, and here is the best place to do so."

While the Olympics might provide the next impetus to the growth of the sport, the hard work will be done this summer.

"I just think for us to grow we all have to work together," said Nicholson. "Hockey Canada, USA hockey, IIHF and the NHL. If we all came together and we wanted to do some things in Europe you wanted to go to Asia, with that group of individuals around the table we could do it, and we could make a heck of an impact.
 
"We all have different agendas when you're on the ice, but to grow the game it should be similar. I don't think any of us should have excuses we can’t grow the game. We should all be there looking at different ways to get skates on more kids get more fans involved in the game of hockey. That’s a common interest to everyone here."
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