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The Latest From The IIHF On The Olympics

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."

continued

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Donald Fehr On The Olympics

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.''

more

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  Tags: donald+fehr

The Real Negotiations Are About To Begin Regarding The NHL And 2018 Olympics

from John Shannon of Sportsnet,

The negotiations are about to begin. No more posturing. No more pleasantries. We will soon hear about a deadline date. We will know in short order whether NHL players will play on the Olympic ice in South Korea next February. All sides will decide how important it is to play in the Games. My gut says the next three weeks are key — before April 12 and the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. No one wants the Olympic discussion to become a distraction then.

Perhaps that day becomes the deadline?

Far to one side, the International Olympic Committee. Set in its ways and happy to spend other peoples' money (not just hockey's) for infrastructure and the glory of the Olympic movement. The formula has worked well for the IOC. Through summer and winter Games, scandal and deceit, doping and bribery, the Olympic movement just keeps chugging along. No reason to change, no reason to share the wealth. After all, if you change for the NHL, you’ll have to change for other leagues and organizations that are involved, such as the NBA, PGA, LPGA and both of tennis’ governing bodies. If you pay for hockey, you might just have to pay for other sports, too.

Far to the other side, the National Hockey League. The 31 owners and a senior executive at the league office who can’t comprehend what the value of the Olympics are anymore if there isn’t some form of compensation or acknowledgement of hockey’s best league. It goes beyond tickets and access or the ability to use video footage. It is about answering a simple question: What’s in it for us?

read on

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The Olympic Debate

Commissioner Gary Bettman reiterated on Tuesday that he doesn't think the NHL players will be taking part in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. But what's really going on here? Will the players go or is this just another bargaining tactic by all sides involved? ESPN writers Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun weigh in.

Burnside: Every time I hear Gary Bettman say how much the owners hate the Olympics and how no one should expect the NHL and its players to be in South Korea for the 2018 Olympics, the more convinced I am that it's only a matter of time until we get confirmation the NHL and its players will be back for the sixth straight Olympic hockey tournament. Why? Simple. Bettman can't afford not to go, no matter how much the Olympic tournament disrupts the NHL schedule. He can't afford to have the world's eyes on a bunch of collegiate players and long-in-the-tooth former NHLers in PyeongChang while the NHLers are toiling away back in North America....

LeBrun: Let's remember how we got to this ridiculous Olympic stalemate. It began more than a year ago with IOC president Thomas Bach saying his governing body was no longer covering costs for the NHL players, as it had at past Olympics. Thank you, Mr. Bach, for poking the bear. Now some NHL owners care about an issue they really didn't think that much about previously -- it gave the NHL an opportunity to make this an issue. This is the same Thomas Bach who referred to his first presence in meeting with the NHL early last month as a "courtesy" visit. Gee, don't inconvenience yourself while people figure out whether or not the best players in the world should be playing in your Olympics hockey tournament....

more from Burnside and LeBrun

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The Latest On The Olympics From Gary Bettman

from Sportsnet,

As more players and owners are speaking up with their opinions on the NHL’s involvement in the 2018 Olympics, commissioner Gary Bettman was the latest to comment on the stand-off.

Speaking to Reuters Tuesday at the Sport Business Summit in New York, Bettman said there were no negotiations currently ongoing between the league, IOC and IIHF and that perhaps people should start thinking about the very real possibility the league stays out of the Pyeongchang Games.

“As things stand now people should assume we are not going,” Bettman said.

The NHL has raised a few concerns with going to the 2018 Games, not least of which is that the league has to shut down for two weeks and send its best players to an event they don’t control. Just last week, Senators owner Eugene Melnyk was recalling the 2006 Games when his goalie, Dominik Hasek, went to play for the Czech Republic as Ottawa looked poised to go on a Cup run. Hasek was injured at the Games and never played for the Senators again.

continued

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Afternoon Line- Zdeno Chara

"I think every player wants to be part of the Olympics, it's one of the biggest stages that any athlete can participate in and compete in. It makes it so special when you have your best athletes all over the world competing against each other.

"Any time there's some sort of interference, it looks bad on the sport and it looks bad on the people making the decisions. We are at a point where people need to really sit down behind one table and find a solution, instead of always kind of being defensive I would say, or finding ways not to find solutions. That's what I'm hoping for and believe that it will eventually happen. Things will find a way and fall into place for the Olympics, for the sport and for the history of all the nations being in the same place; come together and we will see the best hockey players for their countries at the Olympics.''

--Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins.  Pierre LeBrun of ESPN has more on this topic.

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  Tags: zdeno+chara

Ending The Olympic Stalemate

from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,

The NHL is waiting for a compelling reason to bring to its owners in order to convince them to go to the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The NHL Players' Association feels it shouldn't have to give anything up to go. I agree with both sides. So what's the solution?

Here's an idea a few people have suggested to me over the past few days: What if the players were willing to give assurances they wouldn't opt out of the CBA in 2020 and would instead see the existing deal through to 2022? I think the NHL would potentially welcome that. Would it be enough for owners? Would players even want to pass up a chance to reopen the CBA in 2020, given their disdain for escrow payments and their desire to tweak (or limit) escrow in the next CBA?

I don't know the answer to either of those questions, but it seems to me that the idea of playing out the existing CBA and ensuring labor peace until 2022 could be beneficial to both sides, both in terms of Olympic participation next year as well as the next World Cup of Hockey in September 2020. Maybe I'm being too simplistic, but I think it's worth exploring. After all, both sides negotiated the CBA to 2022 to begin with. Is it that important to either side to reopen it in 2020?

more from the ESPN hockey crew on this topic...

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Expansion Protected List - Public Or Private?

from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,

No doubt the league is aware that fans are eager for the information. But if the majority of clubs do indeed want confidentiality for the protective lists, the league may decide that's the route to go.

Perhaps even more intriguing to me is the possibility -- which another GM alerted me to on Monday -- that the protected lists might also not be shared among teams before the draft, meaning they would be shut out just like the rest of us.

The issue here, I think, is that some GMs are hesitant to let everyone else in the league see how they are ranking or otherwise valuing their own players.

I would argue that they already do show their cards when they reveal how they compensate the players in terms of salary. But I suppose that, if lower-paid players end up getting protected over higher-paid players in some cases, teams might not want that kind of naked truth being blatantly blasted out there for posterity.

Perhaps the information could affect future trade negotiations, if a team now knows how a competitor truly feels about a certain player its trying to move?

more

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Rene Fasel On The NHL Participating In The 2018 Olympics

from Nick Butler of Inside The Games,

"There's still time, I'm still 50-50," Fasel told insidethegames here during the IOC Coordination Commission inspection to Pyeongchang 2018.

"The pressure from the side of the players is getting bigger and bigger, so I hope they will find a solution between the NHL and the NHLPA.

"The NHLPA should find a way to ensure they shut down the league.

"I think its a bargaining issue - Gary wants to have something, the only problem is that nobody knows what.

"They should sit together and find a way."

more

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  Tags: rene+fasel

The Evgeni Malkin Hit On Blake Wheeler

from Bob McKenzie of TSN,

For what it’s worth, and it’s not much, I didn't like the Malkin hit on Wheeler. I like to think I like hitting in hockey as much as anyone, but Malkin's hit struck me as unnecessary. The puck was gone. Outside of fulfilling the time-worn “finish your check” mantra or protecting the sky-is-falling chorus of “there's going to be no hitting in the game,” I'm not sure what purpose Malkin's hit served, especially weighed against the contact to Wheeler's head.

But I have also come to realize everyone's threshold for this type of hit is different, and if the GMs on opposite sides of the debate haven't figured it out yet, I don't like our chances for resolving it here today.

I get that Jets fans are angry, and I wouldn't want to be dismissive of them, though let's be honest: How many of them would be outraged if it had been Wheeler who hit Malkin in that fashion?

much more and also discussed the Trouba hit on Stone...

Watch the Malkin hit below...

Continue Reading »

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  Tags: blake+wheeler, evgeni+malkin

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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.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com

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