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Montreal, Boston selected as sites for hockey’s 4 Nations Face-Off tournament next season

Montreal and Boston will be the host cities for the 4 Nations Face-Off tournament in February, the NHL announced Saturday along with releasing the schedule for the event.

In Montreal, Canada plays Sweden on Feb. 12, the U.S. plays Finland on Feb. 13, then a doubleheader — Finland vs. Sweden and the U.S. vs. Canada — awaits on Feb. 15.

In Boston, play resumes Feb. 17 with another doubleheader with Canada meeting Finland and Sweden meeting the U.S. The championship game is there on Feb. 20.

“Our national rightsholders, all of our national rightsholders in both countries will be carrying the games,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in part of his annual news conference that precedes Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. “We’re delighted in the progress that we’re making and the ability to button down the plans.”

National Hockey League Players Association director Marty Walsh said 90 NHL players will be taking part in the tournament. National federations will start releasing rosters — six names apiece — on June 28, with the rest of the rosters expected by the end of 2024.

Montreal and Boston stood out as host site options, the league said.

“Two iconic cities and we felt it was important to have some exposure, some venue in Canada as well as the United States,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said.

SALARY CAP

The NHL and the NHLPA announced shortly before Bettman’s news conference that the salary cap for next season will be $88 million, up $4.5 million from this season and up slightly — $300,000 — over what the projection was back in December.

“I know the general managers and the teams are excited to have more flexibility,” Bettman said. “And it means that the revenues are as robust as we’ve been telling you all along.”

The lower limit was set at $65 million, with a midpoint of $76.5 million.

Added Bettman: “I predict it will continue to go up.”

MIAMI GAME?

There is no time of year where South Florida would offer a suitable climate for the NHL to play an outdoor game.

That is, unless it was indoors — like at loanDepot Park, the 37,000-seat stadium in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood that the Miami Marlins call home.

“I haven’t been there, but I understand it’s very nice and it also has a roof and is air conditioned,” Bettman said. “I’m not going to break any news today, but we are mindful of the fact that at some point, it would be good for the Panthers to be in an outdoor game. And so, we continue to explore options. ... We can only speculate what the future might hold.”

It’s not an out-of-nowhere idea: The Marlins confirmed they have had discussions about the idea of such a game and have a good relationship with the Panthers.

And it’s not the first time the ballpark has been mentioned as a place for a traditional winter sport to play. When hearing last year that the San Antonio Spurs were going to break the NBA attendance record by playing the Golden State Warriors at the Alamodome, Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra suggested trying to pack 100,000 people in the ballpark for an NBA game.

CUT-RESISTANT MATERIALS

Talks will continue on the notion of mandating certain cut-resistant equipment. That conversation was accelerated around the sport following the November death of American hockey player Adam Johnson from a skate blade to the neck in a game in England.

The NHL and the NHLPA have been studying skate cut injuries and how to reduce and avoid them for years.

“There’s no update other than to say that, obviously, the events of this year kind of opened everybody’s eyes and brought a much bigger focus on it,” Daly said.

MEDIA RIGHTS

Long before joining the NHL, Bettman was general counsel and a senior vice president of the NBA — a league closing in on a new series of media rights deals that will last 11 years and are expected to have a total value of more than $70 billion.

That would be great for the NHL and other sports as well, Bettman said.

“What it tells you is the marketplace for sports content is as robust as it’s ever been, despite predictions over the years of doom and gloom,” Bettman said. “I find the prospects going forward very exciting for us as well, because as one of the four major sports we have extraordinarily valuable content.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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