Kukla's Korner Hockey
Hockey Insiders Bob McKenzie, Darren Dreger and Pierre LeBrun have the latest on NHL players participating in the Olympics, how the decision could impact NHL television exposure, Ron Hextall being a candidate for Team Canada's GM at the World Championships, how an injury is complicating Jets prospect Tucker Poolman and more.
Watch at TSN...
from Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet,
- One other thing about NFL and NHL “worlds colliding” in Las Vegas: the NHL’s research indicated Sunday games were the way to go. How much does football’s arrival alter that, especially in the first three months of the season?
- The NHL’s top two scorers since Feb. 1 are Tampa’s Nikita Kucherov (36 points) and Buffalo’s Jack Eichel (34). Maybe that’s not a coincidence. “He is probably my favourite player in the league,” Eichel said of Kucherov during a conversation last Friday. “The subtle plays he makes. One thing he does really well is shoot through a screen. He can pick a small corner through both the screener and the goalie and put it there. That’s something I’d like to do, too.”...
- Don’t know how things will shake down in Dallas and prefer not to guess. But I wonder if Ken Hitchcock will end up there in some role. Some connections remain.
The NHL will have to commit resources to support that infrastructure in helping to coach the coaches and administrators who might oversee a fledgling hockey culture in China.
It's the kind of grandiose plan that will need the support of business leaders in North America and China to make a reality. It is the kind of plan with a million moving parts, a million things that could once again leave NHL powerbrokers wondering if it was all worth it.
But if it's done right, it does represent the kind of magic the NHL envisioned when it first sent its players to the Olympics in 1998 and which has, in many ways, eluded the league.
-Scott Burnside of ESPN where you can read more on this topic.
“I’ve been in this business too long to make predictions either on timing or anything else, I think at this point, we have to wait and see how it plays out. I think, however, if we end up not going, the reaction from the players’ side — across the board — is not going to be a good one. And my guess is it’s going to last for a very long time.”
-Donald Fehr, executive director of the NHLPA. Michael Traikos of the National Post has more on this topic.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
The head of the International Ice Hockey Federation remains hopeful for an NHL Olympic resolution but again made it clear that skipping the tournament in South Korea in 2018, then coming back to play in Beijing in 2022, is not the way to go.
"We have previously stated that the NHL can't just pick and choose which Olympics to participate in," Rene Fasel said in a statement to ESPN.com from the IIHF on Monday. "Our discussions are focused on going to Pyeongchang, and any discussion about Beijing can wait until this has been settled.
"Building ice hockey's profile in Asia is one of the top mandates of my current presidential term. There is a rising interest in the sport within Korea, and we would miss a huge opportunity to grow the game if we didn't have a best-on-best showcase in this country."
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
The NHL’s vision rarely extends past the 50 percent of revenue the league is guaranteed under the CBA, so it is no surprise neither the board nor commissioner can recognize the positive global byproduct of continuing to participate in the Olympics in 2018.
If it cannot be immediately quantified, the benefit does not exist for the Sixth Avenue operation, which has done scandalously little through the years to broaden its scope beyond North America. The most international of professional sports has willingly, if not enthusiastically and happily, limited itself to within its borders.
There is no larger vision for the sport beyond the losers’ point that allows general managers of truly lousy teams to claim winning records with the authenticity of a guy on Eighth Avenue outside the Port Authority Bus Terminal selling you a Rolex for five bucks; no vision beyond that of the referees and linesmen who peer into tiny tablets while confoundingly upholding or reversing their own prior calls.
Still, though, Gary Bettman has not issued a final edict regarding the Pyeongchang Olympics, which means the commissioner is negotiating in his own inimitable style, though it is unclear for what and against — I mean, with — whom.
continued and more topics too...
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
- Imagine if the opposite had occurred?
Imagine if it had been Sidney Crosby’s finger dangling, dripping blood, part of it crushed, the result of a slash, intentional or not?
Imagine the noise the hockey world would make?
Instead, the usual voices say the usual things. You can’t penalize the kind of slash that happens so often in every game. You can’t suspend Crosby for maiming Ottawa’s Marc Methot and ending his regular season — and possibly his playoff run — while probably damaging his hand forever.
That’s their view. The NHL shrugs and looks the other way. The game goes on.
That’s their view, not mine....
- What you need to remember about Eugene Melnyk: When last we saw his Ottawa Senators in the Stanley Cup final, there was Melnyk in the dressing room after losing the Cup, calling out players, questioning their character and basically embarrassing himself.
- Really, Gary Bettman cares nothing about you. He took away a hockey season. If he thinks it’s good business to not have NHL players in the Olympic Games, he won’t lose a minute of sleep over it. That said, Bettman hasn’t officially ruled out NHL participation in the Olympics, which makes it still possible.
more on Crosby and other hockey notes too...
Do you want the NHL to participate in the Olympics? Why or why not?
Ben Bishop, Los Angeles Kings: "Yes, I think they should go to the Olympics. Fans and players get so excited for it. If we didn't go, it would be a big letdown to both."
Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks: "I think so. Firsthand experience, it was a great experience for myself. I was in Torino and then in Vancouver. I think it's good for hockey, I think it's good for hockey worldwide. It definitely promotes players going and representing their countries and I know players really enjoy it."
Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning: "I can only speak for myself, but my answer might be a little different just because I didn't get a chance to play [in Sochi] because of injury last time, so I really want to go.
continue for more from Stamkos and many more players...
from Nathan VanDerklippe and Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
Chinese companies and entrepreneurs have poured billions of dollars into buying soccer clubs across Europe. Now, those companies are turning to the sport that is sometimes referred to in China as “soccer on ice,” at a moment the NHL is readying a major new push into the world’s most populous country.
Groups of Chinese buyers have begun talks with advisers in Beijing and elsewhere, discussing NHL clubs that might accept an initial investment. Though such investments can take time to assemble, at least one buying group has got close enough to discuss financial terms for a potential purchase.
“They’re very much in the market, and trying to complete a transaction,” said Alexander Jarvis, chief executive of Blackbridge Cross Borders, a company known for its deal-making expertise, and which has connected Chinese money with European soccer clubs. In recent months, he has also spoken with several groups about investing in the NHL.
There is interest on both sides of the Pacific to create closer ties as the NHL tries to expand its footprint beyond North America and Chinese authorities look to the NHL for its expertise in helping them develop a hockey culture and trying to popularize the sport in China ahead of the 2022 Beijing Winter Games.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
The NHL should not be waiting for the players to give up something in return for Olympic participation, NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr told ESPN on Thursday.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said earlier this week that if things stayed status quo, "assume we are not going" to next year's Winter Olympics. Many read that as an inference that the league wants the players to give something back so they can participate.
"I don't know what it can be from the players' perspective,'' Fehr told ESPN in a phone interview Thursday. "Obviously the players are not about to engage in collective bargaining in return for getting an opportunity to go to the Olympics for which they aren't being paid, where very valuable things would go elsewhere in return for that....
The bottom line, Fehr said, is the next two Olympics are a great opportunity for hockey.
"We do want to grow the game internationally, and I think the NHL shares that view," Fehr said. "I think they believe as we do that we have some advantages and we have an opportunity; and when you're doing that, you have to take advantage of opportunities when they come your way.
"Having two Olympic Games in Asia within a span of five years is not your ordinary kettle of fish. I don't know if it's unique, but I can't think of anything else which is close to it in terms of the potential exposure it would give.''
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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