National Hockey League officials discussing staging a 2020 World Cup of Hockey with the players union but haven't made moves regarding the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, the league's deputy commissioner Bill Daly said on Monday.
Daly was speaking in Toronto where enshrinement ceremonies were conducted for the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Daly said the NHL needs assurances with the NHL Players Association before it can begin serious planning for a World Cup event after having a 2004 event that ended just before a shutdown which wiped out an entire NHL season.
"We really need labor certainty to play it. It didn't work so well in 2004 when we tried that," Daly said.
The current deal between the NHL and union expires in 2022 but both sides can re-open it in September 2019 and then have the contract expire after the 2019-20 campaign.
Daly said the NHL would need a deal by the start of next year with the union as to waive their right to reopen the deal or delay the deadline to stage a World Cup in 2020.
"If you go past the end of January, I think it would be very difficult to plan and execute a World Cup of Hockey in 2020," Daly said.
Regarding the Olympics, Daly said the NHL has not changed position since it skipped the Winter Olympics last February in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Insurance, transportation and housing cost issues led NHL club owners to deny players a chance to compete for Olympic gold after shutting down so players could compete in the prior five Winter Olympics.
There's no deal set for NHL talent to compete at Beijing in four years, although the league staged pre-season games between Boston and Calgary at Shenzhen and Beijing in September and covets greater exposure in the Chinese market.
"There's nothing new on the subject," Daly said. "You've heard what our owners' position is on the subject. We know the players very much are in support of participating in the Olympics. We're going to have discussions between now and then and we'll see where it goes."
The union might offer a deal for a World Cup in exchange for agreement to allow players to compete in Beijing in 2022.
If a World Cup is staged, it might differ greatly from the one played in 2016, when six national teams were joined by Team North America, top 23-and-under players from Canada and the United States, and Team Europe, top players from nations without a team in the event. Canada beat Europe in the final.
"I'd say our preliminary discussions would be leaning toward eight national teams as opposed to those two teams, but we had a lot of success with those two teams, so I wouldn't rule it out, I just would say it's probably not the favorite right now," Daly said.
- Seattle expansion vote expected -
Daly also said NHL owners expect to vote upon an NHL expansion bid from Seattle in meetings on December 3-4 at Sea Island, Georgia. A group that would pay $650 million for the 32nd NHL team hopes to start in the 2020-21 NHL season provided renovations to KeyArena are done by November 2020, which might be too late for a 2020-21 start.
"We'll see how that plays out," Daly said. "They have an interest in starting in '20-21 and we'd like the accommodate them any way we can."