• The barbs are flying in the ugly fight for NHL participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics, which is less than a year away in South Korea.
Commissioner Gary Bettman said on CBC Radio to “assume we’re not going.” Rene Fasel, the president of the International Ice Hockey Federation, was then quoted by Russia’s Sport-Express as saying, “If the NHL doesn’t come to Korea, they can’t just go to China [four years later]. Negotiations will be much different.”
The majority of owners don’t want to shut down next season to send the players they invest in across the world. Some feel the league wants to pressure the players to, in exchange for the Olympics, not opt out of the collective bargaining agreement in 2020.
But NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr told ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun, “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.”
While there’s no hard deadline to make a decision, the International Olympic Committee needs to know, as does the NHL because a 2017-18 schedule needs to be finalized.
• Sidney Crosby, vying for the Maurice Richard Trophy as the league’s leading goal scorer, reminded everybody how multifaceted he is with his stick. The Penguins superstar scored an incredible one-handed goal against the grain after flying through the Buffalo defense, then got away with a subtle slash to Ryan O’Reilly’s nether regions in the same game.
One game later, he slashed Ottawa’s Marc Methot’s hand. The defenseman removed his glove and a fingertip was gruesomely dangling.
“His finger is destroyed. It’s shattered, and he’s out for weeks,” Senators coach Guy Boucher said.
The NHL rarely suspends for slashes, but it’s interesting to think what would have happened to Methot if the roles were reversed and he slashed the fingertip off arguably the best player in the NHL.