Let’s get the obvious out of the way first: the Olympic hockey tournament in 2018 isn’t going to be the same without NHL players being involved. Not that it’s going to be a waste of time, but as a red-blooded American who looked forward to the involvement of Auston Matthews, Jack Eichel, Johnny Gaudreau, Zach Werenski, Justin Faulk, et al. in the red, white and blue, it’s disappointing that the American team is more likely to be filled with the likes of, say, Jonathon Blum and Aaron Palushaj.
But as a Carolina Hurricanes fan, I couldn’t be more thrilled. In the last week, we’ve seen the impact a compacted schedule has had on the Canes, and it hasn’t been good. The Canes very visibly ran out of gas during Saturday’s loss to the Stars, and while it was an incredible and noteworthy accomplishment to remain in the playoff conversation until April 4 when the team was widely seen as dead in the water on March 1, playing so many games in such a short amount of time took a significant toll.
Next year, the Hurricanes should be a playoff team, and will still be one of the youngest teams in the league. Going to the Olympics would increase the number of two-in-three and four-in-six runs by a not-unsubstantial figure, and that has real, tangible impacts on teams. Look at the difference the World Cup of Hockey made on the schedule this season, and that was just a one-week delay. Three weeks for the Olympics triples the impact.
As a fan of the sport of hockey, I’m disappointed. But as a Hurricanes fan, with apologies to the likes of Faulk, Noah Hanifin, Teuvo Teravainen, Sebastian Aho and so on, this is not a bad thing at all. As much as I’d like to see the best possible tournament in PyeongChang, I’d like just as much to see a Hurricanes playoff run. Not going to the Olympics makes that more of a possibility.
2018년 동계 올림픽
(Google Translate says this is “2018 Winter Olympics” in Korean, so I’ll take their word for it)
- So, if you want a scapegoat, who should you aim your target at? There are many possibilities, but Greg Wyshynski suggests the International Olympic Committee. If you haven’t read this, do it now then come back for the rest of the links. [Puck Daddy]
- I’m not kidding. Read it.
- Here’s a look at what legal recourse the NHL has to coerce players from going to South Korea and what can be done if players go on wildcat strikes to attend anyway. [Forbes]
- Along the same lines, Frank Seravalli gets more of a league-office perspective on the what-ifs of players potentially going to the Games. [TSN]
- John Buccigross called Alex Ovechkin’s Olympics stance “selfish.” The Washington Post’s Dan Steinberg is having none of it. [Washington Post]
- Mike Russo of the Star-Tribune got the thoughts of a few Wild players, including 2014 USA captain Zach Parise. Given the good fortune that the Hurricanes were in town, Justin Faulk also gave Russo his opinion on the matter as well. [Star-Tribune]
- When one door closes, another opens, and such may be the opportunity for an AHL player like Michael Leighton to make an Olympics roster [CBC].
- Kevin Allen, the dean of American hockey writers, looks at who could comprise Team USA without the NHL in the picture. [USA Today]
- And who’s in the running for an NHL-less Team Canada? [Global News]
- The Ringer looks at the winners and losers of the NHL’s decision. [The Ringer]
- The South Korean organizing committee, meanwhile, is the innocent victim that has nothing to do with this squabble but is probably the most directly impacted by it. [AP via Bloomberg]
The Edwards Mill Report
- If you missed the ceremony honoring Eric Staal before Tuesday’s game between the Canes and Wild, here you go.
- The Canes’ presence at the ceremony wasn’t the only thing the organization contributed to its former captain’s celebration:
- Thirteen years ago yesterday, the Canes and Panthers played a game that wouldn’t be remembered by anyone if not for the fact that it was the last of a dying breed. [NHL.com]
- Here’s a recap of Bryan Bickell’s return to NHL ice, including a postgame meeting with Josh Harding, another hockey player living with multiple sclerosis. [Associated Press]
- Bickell appeared this afternoon on Hockey Central at Noon as well. [Sportsnet 590]
- This year, the University of Minnesota-Duluth will make its first appearance in the Frozen Four since 2011, when they won their first national championship two hours down I-35 at Xcel Energy Center. Justin Faulk was on that team, and coincidentally returned to the scene of the celebration yesterday. [Minnesota Hockey Magazine]
- This was written before yesterday’s game, but it’s still worth reading Andrew Poturalski’s thoughts on his NHL debut. [Hurricanes]
- Victor Rask now isn’t the only professional hockey player in his family:
Victor Rasks sister becomes a full time hockey player, with full salary. https://t.co/IKoZqbUrKI— Emil Ullbrand (@emilullbrand) April 3, 2017
A Few Looks Around the League
- NHL Central Scouting just finished its pre-draft ranking meeting. Among the names you may recognize who are draft eligible this year: Jake Leschyshyn, Skyler Brind’Amour and Eero Teravainen. [NHL.com]
- Johnny Gaudreau and Marc Methot are recent victims of “tapping,” which should otherwise be known as a slashing penalty but frequently isn’t. Why does the NHL not do more about it when players are having their hands and fingers broken? [TSN]
- Brad Marchand took it upon himself to attempt to reduce the lineage of the Lightning’s Jake Dotchin last night. How long of a suspension will the NHL Wheel of Justice land on? [Stanley Cup of Chowder]
- Kris Letang can’t catch a break. Surgery on a herniated disk in his neck will keep the Penguins defenseman out for 4-6 months. [Pensburgh]
- How do the Blackhawks have such consistent success with bottom-six forwards? [The Athletic ($)]
There’s a familiar name in the compilation of Canes Reading Tweets that was featured on Social Media Night this past Saturday.