Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Pierre LeBrun of TSN,
Deadline, what deadline?
Despite the committee being quoted in October as saying Jan. 15 was a deadline for a decision on NHL participation in South Korea, an International Olympic Committee spokesperson said Friday there is, in fact, no firm deadline.
"There is no agreed final deadline, but we continue to work towards a positive outcome," an IOC spokesperson told ESPN via email Friday.
That matches with the responses to ESPN from the NHL, its players' association and International Ice Hockey Federation this week, which all said they didn't believe there was any firm deadline the IOC had imposed.
NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr has always maintained there was time past January to get a deal done, citing how late in the proceedings the Sochi 2014 agreement got finalized (July 2013, just seven months before the Winter Games).
from Jared Clinto of The Hockey News,
NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr offered some hope ahead of the Centennial Classic this past Sunday for those hoping for the NHL to send players to the Olympics. According to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, Fehr said he felt “more optimistic now” than he had at any point prior when it came to talks regarding Olympic participation.
However, that same day, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman stated that no talks have happened with the IOC or IIHF regarding the Olympics, continuing by saying that “absent some compelling reason I'm not sure there's a whole lot of sentiment on the part of the clubs to go through the disruption of taking almost three weeks off during the season.”
Even still, there was cause for at least a glimmer of hope, with the belief that Fehr’s optimism was more telling of the direction talks were going with regards to sending the players to PyeongChang come February 2018. But according to TSN’s Darren Dreger, at least one owner and one member of the NHL’s Board of Governors have “no idea” where Fehr’s optimism is coming from.
That’s not to say Olympic participation is entirely off the table, though. Dreger, appearing on NBC on Wednesday evening, elaborated on what it might take for the league to send players to South Korea for the tournament.
“Unless there is a game-changer that sways the owners, then that attitude is going to remain consistent; that the NHL will not be going to South Korea,” Dreger said, according to NBC Sports. “And by ‘game-changer’, we’re talking about something perhaps CBA related, which Don Fehr says is too complicated. It would take months to negotiate something like that. Or, a huge financial gain from the IOC or Olympic-related to persuade the NHL owners. And at this stage, that seems like a long shot.”
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman reiterated his owners' current lack of interest in Olympic participation but his counterpart Donald Fehr painted a different picture of where things stand for the South Korea Games.
"I'm more optimistic now that I ever have been, at least as far as we're concerned, that we'll be able to reach an appropriate agreement with the IIHF to allow for the players to go," Fehr, the executive director of the NHL Players' Association, told assembled media before the Centennial Classic.
"So I assume there will be further discussions over the course of the next several weeks and I choose to be optimistic on this one. We'll see.'"
Asked why exactly he felt more optimistic now, Fehr didn't really have specific reasons.
"You get a sense of things as they go along, you get a sense of things and how they're likely to end up; doesn't mean you're always right, but you get a sense of things," said Fehr.
from the CP at Sportsnet,
The NHL is working on a plan to move forward with or without the 2018 Olympics.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said Friday afternoon that the league has begun working with teams on two different scheduling scenarios, one that would see NHL players attend the Games in South Korea almost 14 months from now and one that would see them sit out for the first time since 1994.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman had previously indicated the need for an Olympic decision by January, though no firm deadline was ever given. An alternative schedule accommodating the Olympics would seem to suggest a softening toward that time frame.
"We’re not the ones imposing any kind of deadline," Daly said. "We’ll see what the IOC and the IIHF’s timetable is; obviously I think the players have flexibility. We won’t be setting the deadline."
from Dan Rosen of NHL.com,
Note that these are only predictions, and though the author takes them seriously, he also decrees no one is allowed to hold him accountable if they do not come true.
The Toronto Maple Leafs will make the Stanley Cup Playoffs
The feeling around the Maple Leafs has changed drastically, with rookies Auston Matthews, Mitchell Marner and William Nylander already proving how dominant and explosive they can be. The Maple Leafs have overcome their early season issues, including the struggles of goalie Frederik Andersen. They continue to improve as a team and slowly prove they are for real with balanced scoring, a better-than-expected defense, quality goaltending and excellent coaching. Example: They have won three consecutive road games to move within three points of a playoff berth entering play Thursday. They will battle with the Ottawa Senators, Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers for two or three playoff spots. Matthews, Marner, Nylander and Andersen will continue to play well and Nazem Kadri, James van Riemsdyk and Morgan Rielly will give the Maple Leafs balance to win enough games so they can shock the hockey world by qualifying for the postseason.
The NHL and NHLPA will agree to participate in the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics
This will come down to the wire because deadlines drive decisions, but at some point in January, perhaps around All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles, the NHL and NHLPA will announce NHL players will be going to the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, even though the current signs from the NHL point in the other direction.
Olympic participation never has driven the League's bottom line, but a huge, important and realistic component to this difficult decision is if the League can get the NHLPA to agree to a broader international schedule, the Olympics will be included. It makes sense for the NHLPA because of the impact the global game can have on marketing and promotion of the players, not to mention the national pride that comes with it.
It would benefit the NHL and NHLPA if the decision to attend the Olympics and create a broader international schedule includes extra years tacked on to the current Collective Bargaining Agreement. As NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has said, it is important to have guaranteed labor peace at a time when both parties want to expand the game globally.
15 more predictions...
from Scott Stinson of the National Post,
Whatever the trouble involved with NHL participation in the Olympics, it is baffling that the league is officially skeptical about the benefits that follow from having its players involved. Having the best hockey players in the world showcased at the world’s biggest sporting event, in a tournament that offers the best version of the game, an embarrassment of speed and skill, is a clear advertisement for the merits of the world’s best hockey league, even if the NHL shield is not formally a part of the proceedings.
That’s such an obvious statement that it feels silly to even write it, but we’re doing so here because the NHL does not seem to agree.
The NHL’s popularity is highly regional and its national exposure rises and falls in accordance with the size of the markets that make deep playoff runs. Chicago-Boston had strong ratings for a Stanley Cup Finals in 2013; last year’s Pittsburgh-San Jose match-up did not. The same is even true in hockey-mad Canada, where playoff ratings fell off a cliff last spring when zero Canadian teams made the tournament.
International play, though, is the one time when hockey transcends that regional bias and becomes a national-level event. Bettman can roll his eyes at the prospect of Olympic hockey being broadcast at odd times in North America because of the time difference with Pyeongchang, but the interest in Olympic hockey swelled in Sochi 2014, which was hardly time-zone friendly.
"I think it's fantastic for our sport. think it's great for our league that we go, and we're there. I think for all the players it's an honor to be part of the Olympics. I'm hopeful they can work it out. It's great for our league and great for the game."
-Steve Yzerman, GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning on the NHL players participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics. Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times has more on this topic.
from the CP at Sportsnet,
The NHL Players’ Association has formally rejected the league’s proposal to allow players to participate in the 2018 Olympics in exchange for an extension to the current collective bargaining agreement.
NHLPA executive director Don Fehr says that the players, primarily the executive board, showed no interest in the idea.
He says he hopes “we’ll still be able to conclude an agreement to go to the Olympics.”
Fehr tells The Canadian Press in an exclusive interview that “we still think it’s (playing in 2018) important and we’ll go from there.”
from Ken Campbell of The Hockey News,
So it turns out that regardless of what the final numbers are, the World Cup was not quite the cash cow that was originally predicted. A total profit of less than $40 million is significantly lower than was projected when the event was first conceived, perhaps as much as 50 percent lower. In fact, it doesn't look as though the 2016 World Cup will make much more money that it did when it was last played in 2004. Former NHL chief operating office John Collins said at the launch of the World Cup announcement at the 2015 All-Star Game in Columbus that the World Cup in 2004 made slightly less than $34 million. Does that mean there is room to grow for the World Cup or did both sides overestimate the revenues an event such as this one would produce? That’s probably the question that everyone on both sides are trying to figure out. From the league’s side, that total represents only a little more than $600,000 per team and that's only if the league distributes the money to the teams.
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
Maybe this will be the trigger that engages, educates and mobilizes the NHLPA membership.
Maybe Sixth Avenue’s latest reach into the players’ pockets with its attempt to coerce the union into extending the CBA by three years in exchange for authorization to compete in the 2018 Olympic Games will unify a Players Association that has been demoralized since enemies within undermined Bob Goodenow’s righteous fight against imposition of a hard cap through Owners’ Lockout II that claimed the 2004-05 season.
Out of nowhere — or perhaps, more accurately, out of Gary Bettman and the Board of Governors’ playbook — came the demand last week of linkage between the CBA and the Olympics. It was a classic hardball maneuver from the league that previously cast its reluctance (if not downright opposition) to commit to South Korea, over the IOC’s refusal to cover the cost of the players’ insurance and travel to the Games as it had done previously.
But when International Ice Hockey Federation chairman Rene Fassel on Wednesday informed Bettman that his organization would find the necessary $10 million to cover the cost, the league pulled its bait-and-switch. Suddenly, that wasn’t good enough.
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.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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