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Volume 25 No. 107
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Bettman Mum On Olympics Decision As NHL China Games Begin

Saturday's game at Universiade Sports Centre had an announced crowd of 10,218
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The Bruins and Flames commenced the '18 ORG NHL China Games on Saturday in Shenzhen, but Commissioner Gary Bettman "isn't making any promises" about allowing players to return to the country for the '22 Beijing Games, according to Wes Gilbertson of the CALGARY SUN. Bettman said, "What we're committed to doing here in China is about growing the game, and you can have a long debate over whether or not our participation over two weeks in 2022 is going to make a difference in that regard." He added the league has been "extremely comfortable" with its decision to not participate in the Pyeongchang Games. Bettman: "The fact is, 2022 is still a long ways off and we haven't made any decisions." Gilbertson noted Saturday's game at Universiade Sports Centre had an "announced crowd of 10,218 fans -- the seating capacity for hockey is about 14,500" -- and fans "seemed to be enjoying themselves." They "cheered whenever there was a body-check, a scoring opportunity, a wild scramble around the crease or, occasionally, when a goalie stopped a long-range dump-in from the neutral zone." Meanwhile, Gilbertson noted the NHL "enlisted plenty of expertise to lead coaching clinics" in Shenzhen and Beijing and held a "fan-fest event at an outdoor mall." There are currently a "total of 205 indoor rinks in China, with just over 12,000 registered players." Bettman said of growing the game in the country, "It's really about infrastructure. It's about clinics. It's about building the game at the grassroots" (CALGARY SUN, 9/17).