Bettman unsure if Beijing Olympics represents ‘an opportunity to grow the game in China’

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If the 2022 Winter Olympics had been awarded to Almaty, Kazakhstan, the NHL may already have pulled out of the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

But because they didn’t go to Almaty — they went to Beijing, China — the NHL has so far kept its options open.

“That’s a discussion we have to have to determine whether or not there is an opportunity to grow the game in China by using the Winter Games with NHL players as a catalyst,” commissioner Gary Bettman said today, per NHL.com. “That’s the question. I don’t know the answer.”

Bettman did say that “there was no aftereffect and no wake left behind” by the 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan. Which is consistent with comments he’s made in the past about the NHL’s participation in Games outside North America.

So Beijing would have to be different for the NHL to be convinced.

It’s not believed the NHL would skip 2018 and participate in 2022. It’s both or neither.

The players, by the way, are already on board.

Related: Ovechkin will ‘definitely’ go to South Korea for 2018 Winter Olympics