SOCHI, Russia: Hockey’s annual world championship remains strong without the best players in the world, but world hockey’s president is willing to consider postponing the event in Olympic years.
“If I can improve and promote the game of hockey, this is my job. I’m always listening,” said International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel. “Only stupid people never change their mind.”
Fasel said the 2010 world championship in Germany successfully drew 550,000 spectators and more than 600 million TV viewers worldwide. The IIHF website criticized stars of Vancouver 2010 Olympics, like Sidney Crosby, for skipping the event.
The comments didn’t do anything to advance the cause of attracting National Hockey Leaguers to the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.
Fasel said he will meet with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman in a bid to bridge the gap.
“We are sport, they are business,” Fasel said. “Just we have to find a way where we can put that together with the same objective at the end. The sport for me, for us, is the first priority.”
Fasel chaired the International Olympic Committee panel that oversaw planning for Vancouver 2010. He said VANOC overcame the four main challenges of a Games organizer: budget, transportation, accommodation and security. He didn’t indicate whether VANOC would use the full $22 million IOC bailout offered last summer to help avoid losing money because of the recession.