Bettman concerned Olympic fundraising could hurt hockey grassroots

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman joins Prime Time Sports to talk about sending NHL players to the Olympics.

Commissioner Gary Bettman has concerns about the International Ice Hockey Federations’s ways of raising money that would bring NHL players to the 2018 Olympic Games, saying that it could hurt hockey development.

Speaking on Sportsnet 590 The Fan’s Prime Time Sports, Bettman commented on IIHF president Rene Fasel’s efforts to work around the International Olympic Committee’s stronghold on funding.

“Money that would normally go to hockey development, particularly at the grassroots level, is being diverted for this purpose,” Bettman said. “I’m not sure why it is that the IOC all of a sudden — after five Olympics — thinks it’s a good idea not to pay for the things that they’ve paid for, but I can’t speak for them.

“If money is being diverted from things that it should be going to develop hockey, on behalf of the league, I have a concern about that.”

There was significant development on Wednesday regarding the participation of NHL players at the 2018 Games. For months, it has seemed murky that a deal would be reached to bring NHL players to Pyeongchang‎, South Korea.

The issue has primarily been the cost of transportation and insurance. Bettman told PTS that those costs have typically been paid for by the IOC, although the IIHF is trying to come up with the money to make it work.

“Does it cover exactly the way they’ve been handling the last five Olympics? I don’t believe so,” Bettman said about the IIHF. “They’re looking to figure out ways to do it a little bit differently. Not necessarily as good but maybe looking for ways where they can save money doing it.”

The NHL commissioner added that he doesn’t want the NHLPA to pick up any of the expenses that are owing.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman wrote that Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly have done several studies that shows there’s no financial benefit for the NHL to participate in the Olympics.

Friedman also reported that the NHL made an offer to players that would allow them to attend the Games in exchange for extending the collective bargaining agreement.

There’s still much to be decided and work to be done for all parties involved, but there finally seems to be a sense of direction.

“If the IOC doesn’t see a value in having a best-on-best hockey tournament, then why is it that everybody is turning themselves into pretzels to go,” Bettman said.

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