Russia told Slava Voynov cannot compete at World Cup due to NHL suspension

Jared Clinton
Slava Voynov (Photo by Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images)

On the day final World Cup rosters were released, Russia shocked everyone by adding Slava Voynov their roster. The former Los Angeles Kings defenseman is currently suspended by the NHL following a no contest plea to a domestic assault charge, which made Voynov’s addition by the Russian Hockey Federation surprising, but it doesn’t appear his inclusion on the roster will mean he’s playing at the tournament.

During his media availability ahead of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final, commissioner Gary Bettman said that Voynov, 26, will not be allowed to suit up at the World Cup because of his current suspension from play in the NHL. The World Cup is a tournament being put on by the NHL and NHLPA, thus the league and Players’ Association can make that ruling.

“He’s been suspended from the league,” Bettman said when asked about Voynov. “The Russian Federation was told that he was not eligible to play in the World Cup. What happens from that moving forward in terms of what somebody may try to do is a different story. But his status has not changed.” Read more

Suspend him or not: Patrick Marleau knocks Bryan Rust out of Game 1

Patrick Marleau (Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images)

PITTSBURGH – Patrick Marleau of the San Jose Sharks waited 1,576 regular season and playoff games to play in his first Stanley Cup final game and he doesn’t think he should have to wait any time to play his second. He likely won’t.

Expect the NHL to take a long, hard look at his hit on Bryan Rust of the Pittsburgh Penguins early in the third period of Game 1, but don’t hold your breath waiting for the NHL to impose any supplementary discipline. Marleau took a minor for an illegal check to the head when he caught Rust in open ice. Rust went to the Quiet Room and was cleared to come back to the game, but played just one shift before calling it a night.

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Nick ‘Bones’ Bonino’s Game 1 heroics all about the stone-cold assassin mentality

Nick Bonino #13 of the Pittsburgh Penguins moves the puck against the New York Rangers in Game Five of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Consol Energy Center on April 23, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)

PITTSBURGH – Penguins center Nick Bonino attracts clutch goals like a human magnet. He entered Game 1 of his first Stanley Cup final with three career overtime winners, including a series-clincher against the Washington Capitals in this year’s Metropolitan Division final. Bonino had four game-winning goals in 48 career post-season contests. And in game No. 49, he puffed up the number to five.

With just 2:33 remaining in a 2-2 game, one in which the San Jose Sharks fought back from a 2-0 deficit after a blowout first period, Bonino added another memorable goal to his expanding collection. He took a gorgeous seeing-eye pass from defenseman Kris Letang, corralled the puck and roofed it past goalie Martin Jones. The Pens held on for a 3-2 win. A look at the goal:

Back to the magnet analogy. It fits, because Bonino doesn’t hunt for the epic moments. They just find him. And he knows exactly why.

“Just the biggest thing for me is to try and stay even keel and not change my game, whether it’s game 1 of the season or the Stanley Cup final,” Bonino said. “That allows me to stay in the moment there.”

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Sharks in a panic after Game 1 loss? No way, San Jose

Joe Thornton (Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

PITTSBURGH – Those of you out there expecting the San Jose Sharks to curl up into the fetal position and roll over because they lost Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final may be a little disappointed. Because as they’ve proved through the first three rounds of the playoffs, these are not your father’s San Jose Sharks.

There were not a lot of long faces in the Sharks room – unless you measure it by the length of their beards – despite the fact they dropped Game 1 3-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins because of a bad start and an unfortunate finish. Expect the Sharks to come back strongly in Game 2, the same way they did in the Western Conference final after losing Game 1 to the St. Louis Blues.

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NHL zeroing in on expansion decision so stay tuned

Marc-Andre Fleury (Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)

PITTSBURGH – The time is nigh, which means there won’t be too many more sleeps before we find out whether the NHL will expand to Sin City or Quebec City, or both, or neither, in time for the 2017-18 season.

In his pre-Stanley Cup final state of the union address, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said he expects the executive committee will make an expansion recommendation to the board of governors at least a week before it meets June 22. That takes us likely to June 15. Neither Bettman nor deputy commissioner Bill Daly would say when the executive committee will meet to decide expansion, but said it will be held in early June. There is speculation that meeting could take place as early as next week.

Bettman said there will be one of three scenarios by June 22 – no expansion, expansion to one of the two cities or expansion deferred to a later time. “I am not going to handicap what’s going to happen,” Bettman said, “but when the board meets in Las Vegas on June 22, I am fairly certain that we will know more than we do today.”

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Somebody outside the box is going to have to save NHL Olympic participation

Ken Campbell
Crosby raises his arms in triumph after his lone goal of the tournament puts Canada ahead 2-0 (Getty Images)

PITTSBURGH – Whether or not the NHL continues to participate in the Winter Olympics will come down to dollars, “many, many, many millions of dollars,” according to NHL commission Gary Bettman. When the most powerful man in hockey uses the word “many” three times, you know it’s a significant chunk of change.

In his annual state of the union address preceding the Stanley Cup final, Bettman said the International Olympic Committee’s and International Ice Hockey Federation’s decision to not pay the league’s biggest expenses – contract insurance, travel and accommodations for player’s families – is an “easy showstopper”.

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Advanced stats vs. the eye test: models split on who will win Stanley Cup

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

The long road to the Stanley Cup final is finally over and depending on your outlook, the two teams playing are either very surprising or exactly what you expected.

From the East we’ve got the Pittsburgh Penguins, a team with a sketchy D-corps and – at the start of the playoffs – an injured starting goalie. A team that has disappointed a few times in past playoff seasons despite their talent.

From the West we’ve got the San Jose Sharks, a team not many would believe could actually go far in the playoffs without actually seeing it for themselves first. A team that has choked year after year.

I can see why some people would be surprised.

Before the playoffs began, we here at THN previewed three different sets of predictions: one based on stats, one based on the eye test, and a combination of the two.

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After bizarre departure from Senators, Wikstrand signs four-year deal with SHL’s Farjestad

Jared Clinton
Mikael Wikstrand (Farjestad Karlstad/Champions Hockey League via Getty Images)

In September 2015, it looked as though Mikael Wikstrand’s career was at an impasse. The 22-year-old defender had mysteriously left Ottawa’s training camp, returned to his native Sweden and was told by then-Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray that the only was his career was going to continue was if he was playing defense for a beer league team.

Nine months later, Wikstrand has signed a four-year contract with one of the SHL’s top teams. It was announced Monday that Wikstrand has inked a four-year extension with Farjestad BK which will see the young blueliner continue his career in the SHL for the foreseeable future. The Senators have not commented on the contract as of this writing.

Wikstrand’s extension with Farjestad is another strange twist in a story that caught many by surprise at the beginning of the campaign and remains a head-scratcher, if only in the sense that Wikstrand was in Ottawa one day and gone the next. Read more