• Even though the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) says it has the $10 million needed to cover travel costs, insurance and other items for NHL players to play in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, the hope of the league participating seems to be fading.
After Thursday’s Board of Governors meeting, Commissioner Gary Bettman said, “It’s fair to say that there is some strong negative sentiment in the room.”
The league says a decision needs to be made by January. Bettman says the IIHF hasn’t told the NHL officially it can cover the costs, and he’s not sure that would sway the owners anyway. Among the owner concerns: stopping the momentum of the season and injuries to players.
The league tried to broker a deal with the NHLPA to extend the collective bargaining agreement by three years in exchange for the Olympics and a number of other revenue-building events, but that offer was rejected because of disenchantment with the amount of escrow withheld from player paychecks.
• Bettman also said Thursday that next season’s salary cap “could range from where it is now [$73 million] to a couple or so million up, but we’re going to all have to focus on what makes most sense going forward.”
• Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine, leading NHL rookies with 17 goals entering Saturday, has taken the NHL by storm.
“The release of his shot and the quickness that he gets it away is very Ovi-like,” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said, referring to his former Washington star, Alex Ovechkin. “He’s not as big and physical as Ovi yet.”
Of course, wait ’til the 18-year-old Laine fills out.