• The biggest shame of the NHL cutting the cord on sending its players to the 2018 Olympics in South Korea — other than we all will miss out on a best-vs.-best tournament — is you can bet this will lead into another eventual labor dispute. The NHLPA can opt out in two years.
Players, already ticked about the amount of escrow withheld from their paychecks, are ticked. Even mild-mannered Wild forward Nino Niederreiter called it a “selfish” move by the NHL and hypocritical that the decision was made days after announcing there will be exhibition games in China and regular-season games in Sweden next season.
NHL Players’ Association Executive Director Donald Fehr told a Toronto radio station the players have long memories.
Owners don’t want to disrupt next year’s schedule, risk injury and — bottom line — don’t like that the International Olympic Committee won’t permit the league to show highlights on its network and website of its very own players.
The league will clearly need to come up with some sort of repercussions for players and teams if players go AWOL for the Olympics. Washington’s Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov already have said they’re going no matter what, and the league cannot be pleased that Capitals owner Ted Leonsis supports that breach of contract.
“I didn’t change my mind, and I won’t. It’s my country,” Ovechkin said.
• Reports out of Florida is that interim coach Tom Rowe won’t return behind the bench. The GM took over as coach earlier this season when Gerard Gallant was fired.
Others coaches potentially in trouble: Colorado’s Jared Bednar, Vancouver’s Willie Desjardins, Dallas’ Lindy Ruff and Los Angeles’ Darryl Sutter.