Bettman Bounces the Olympics?
So it appears as if Gary Bettman is beginning to draw the battle lines over the participation of NHL players in the 2014 Olympics, openly wondering if it’s worth it to the NHL to have their players interrupt their season for the Olympic tournament. Two thoughts on this: on the one hand, he could be posturing for bargaining position, knowing full well the value of having the world’s best players play in the premier global hockey tournament (as he alludes to in the article). On the other hand, he could be demonstrating once again just how out of touch he is with reality, building on his overly-expansionist, rule-tinkering, lockout-loving, Phoenix-lovefest of a fiasco of a commissioner’s reign to even further heights of ineptitude (“It’s pretty clear that the Olympic tournament is a priority for the overwhelming majority of players” stands out as a point against Gary). I guess time will tell. Story link.
Avs Honour Joe
Joe Sakic had his jersey retired in Denver as part of season-opening ceremonies for the Avalanche, officially bringing to an end the playing careers of one of the classiest, humblest and most talented players in league history. Sakic and Yzerman were twin towering figures for their respective franchises, and the sport has been a better place with Joe’s presence on the ice. Hopefully he’ll stay involved in the game (I could see him being some kind of awesome in a front office role, if not necessarily coaching); I can certainly see him taking on an Yzerman-type role with the Avs going forward. Here’s to you, Joe! Story link.
Balsillie Gives Up The Ghost of Christmas Future
Jim Balsillie officially dropped his bid for the Coyotes the other day after Judge Baum rejected both his and the league’s bids for the team (albeit leaving the door open for the NHL, not Jim). I feel that, once he’s in the NHL fraternity, Jim Balsillie would be the kind of owner the league needs: deep-pocketed, deeply passionate and with a bit of a controversial streak to him. I think that moving a team to Hamilton might be a bit of a reach, even if the region can sustain it (which it likely can, but I can’t see too many Leaf fans defecting), but on the whole he’d make a solid owner. Unfortunately, his tactics over the past year or so have been…questionable, and if anything’s going to bar him from entry to the League of Extraordinary Gentleman that is the NHL owner’s club, it’s going to be his bare-knuckled, red-faced attempt to barge his way in the back door, not his suitability as an owner once there. I don’t think this is the last of Jim Balsillie. Story Link.
Can’t Stop Here; It’s Oil Country
Good article on THN about Pat Quinn’s attempts at re-shaping the locker room culture in Edmonton after the travesty of last season under Craig MacTavish. If there’s anything Quinn’s good at, it’s whipping a team into shape and having them perform beyond expectations (see: late-1990s, early-2000s Toronto, Vancouver). While some questions remain about the strength of the team top-to-bottom, Quinn’s ability to motivate a squad is just what the team needs. In some ways, he reminds of Ron Wilson: an aggressive coach who can make players perform above expectations (1998 Capitals anybody?), but can’t quite take the stronger teams to the promised land (Sharks in Wilson’s case; mid-2000s Leafs in Quinn’s). Which is exactly what Edmonton needs right now anyway. The year didn’t get off to the best start with a last-minute loss to Calgary on Saturday night, but the rest of the year will tell if Quinn’s still got the motivational mojo. Story link.
The NHL’s Back
And life couldn’t be better! Story Link.