Calgary Flames\' Raitis Ivanans, left, fights Edmonton Oilers\' Steve MacIntyre during third period NHL hockey action in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday October 7, 2010. Ivanans\'s comeback from concussion is going to start in the American Hockey League.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Author: The Hockey News
Calgary Flames send tough guy Raitis Ivanans to American Hockey League
The NHL and NHLPA still have yet to reach a conclusion when it comes to discussions about Olympic participation, but the good news is the International Olympic Committee has said there’s no firm deadline for the league to make a decision.
After months of concern about an impending mid-January deadline for the NHL to reach a decision on whether the league will send its players to the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang, it appears the International Olympic Committee is willing to give the NHL the time it needs to reach a conclusion on Olympic participation.
In an October interview with the Associated Press, Christophe Dubi, the IOC's executive director of the Olympic Games, pointed out the positives of the NHL coming to check out the proposed site of the tournament and indicated that mid-January could be the deadline for the league to choose its course of action when it came to PyeongChang.
“Until (Jan. 15) it will be work between all parties involved to make sure that we get the participation of the very best, and that's for both Pyeongchang and Beijing,” Dubi told the Associated Press.
However, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, that deadline is no more. A spokesperson for the IOC told LeBrun that “no agreed final deadline” exists for the league to come to a decision on Olympic participation, and the spokesperson continued by saying the IOC would continue to “work towards a positive outcome” with the league.
In response to the IOC’s comments, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told LeBrun that it was “interesting to hear” given the league hasn’t heard from the IOC regarding the NHL sending players to the game. Daly continued by telling LeBrun that “there does not appear currently to be anywhere near the requisite support from our clubs that would be necessary for the league to commit to Olympic participation in 2018.”
That there’s no deadline in place is a major positive for fans wishing to see the league participate, as it gives both the NHL and NHLPA more time to work out a potential agreement that would allow the players to go to PyeongChang. A number of players, from Alex Ovechkin to Marc-Edouard Vlasic, have made clear their desire to play at the tournament, but the NHL and NHLPA have yet to been able to work out an agreement.
Earlier in the discussions about participation, the NHL approached the NHLPA with a potential agreement that would see the players given the right to head to the 2018 Olympics in exchange for a three-year extension of the current collective bargaining agreement. Some players openly scoffed at the offer, and it was rejected shortly after it was made.
Despite the fact NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr was openly optimistic about the chance the league would send the players to the two-week tournament, the situation has appeared bleak recently, especially with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman commenting that he didn’t feel owners throughout the league were all that enthused about shutting down the season in order to send players. That sentiment was echoed by Daly to LeBrun, and as we inch closer to the end of January, it appears the Olympic participation saga is set to continue.
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan voiced his displeasure with the officials late in Thursday’s loss to the Senators, and it was enough to earn him an ejection from the game with less than two minutes remaining.
It’s been a tough couple of days for coaches in the NHL.
Following Wednesday’s blowout loss to the Montreal Canadiens, Winnipeg Jets bench boss Paul Maurice was fired up and slipped a few profanities into his post-game assessment of his team’s play. The very next night, Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan decided to aim his displeasure at the officials during the Penguins’ 4-1 defeat at the hands of the Ottawa Senators, and he earned himself a trip to the dressing room for his efforts.
With two minutes remaining in Thursday’s game between the Penguins and Senators, Sullivan seemingly crossed the line with her verbal jabs at the officiating crew and as Ottawa carried the puck up ice, referee Wes McCauley had seen and heard enough. Right in the middle of play, McCauley blew the play dead, headed to the Penguins bench, pointed to Sullivan and made it clear he was tossed:
What exactly caused the ejection is hard to tell, but it appears to have been something that was said following a goaltender interference penalty Justin Schultz took only a dozen seconds earlier. Sullivan didn’t expect to be tossed from the game, though.
Nashville finally got some good news on the injury front with P.K. Subban taking part in an optional skate, but losing Roman Josi to an upper-body injury puts a damper on Subban’s progress.
Having spent the past 13 games, or nearly one-third of their season thus far, without defenseman P.K. Subban, the last thing the Nashville Predators was another injury on the blueline. Unfortunately, though, the injury bug has bitten the Predators once again.
The Predators announced Friday afternoon that defenseman Roman Josi has been placed on the injured reserve with an upper-body injury, and no clear timeline for return has been announced. Josi’s injury comes as the result of a hard, late hit thrown by Boston rookie Anton Blidh in the first period of the Predators’ 2-1 victory over the Bruins Thursday evening, but the specifics of the injury are unclear. Nashville coach Peter Laviolette called the hit “late and dirty.”
Losing Josi is about as bad as things could possibly get for the Predators given his importance to the team, and his emergence has been one of the bright spots of the past few seasons in Nashville. Through 42 games this season, Josi is averaging more ice time than any other player in the Predators’ lineup and has contributed five goals and 22 points.
And while it’s difficult to find a positive in the current injury news for the Predators — who also placed Colin Wilson, who has missed the past three games, on injured reserve with a lower-body injury — things are finally starting to look up when it comes to Subban.
For the first time since he fell injured in mid-December, Subban was back on the ice for a skate with his teammates. Subban has been sidelined since Dec. 15 with a mysterious upper-body injury, suspected to be a back ailment, and hasn’t done much in the way of on-ice activity since falling injured. Subban was placed on the injured reserve on Jan. 1 with the expectation that he’d be reevaluated in 2-3 weeks, and, according to Vingan, Predators GM David Poile said in an interview with Nashville’s 102.5 The Game that the defenseman is “making progress” in his quest to return to action.
However, the Predators may need to go at least another week without Subban. Vingan added that Poile believed it would be closer to the full three weeks before Subban could be reevaluated, at which time the Predators will likely make a decision or announcement about how far off Subban is from returning to the lineup.
Subban, 27, was right along Josi as the defensive catalyst for the Predators this season. Before falling injured, Subban had seven goals and 17 points in 29 games while averaging upwards of 25 minutes of ice time per game. He won the fan vote to captain the Central Division at the All-Star Game in Los Angeles, but it’s unknown at this point whether Subban will be cleared to participate at the event.
The Breakaway Challenge is no more, but the often ridiculous event at the skills competition offered up some fantastic moments and great laughs. Take a look back at the five best attempts.
The highlight of the NBA’s all-star weekend, almost without fail, is the Slam Dunk Contest. The event has delivered moments like Michael Jordan’s foul line dunk, Vince Carter’s forearm in the rim jam and last season’s phenomenal showdown between Aaron Gordon and Zach LaVine.
It would only make sense then that the NHL would try its hand at imitating the event, creating the Breakaway Challenge as its version of the dunk competition. The goal was simple: wow the crowd with incredible displays of puckhandling or win them over with props and creativity. Most players went for the latter, and it’s been one of the more ridiculous and comical events at the all-star weekend over the past six skills competitions.
However, after its six-season run as one of the weekend’s events, the NHL has decided to do away with the Breakaway Challenge, according to Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos. The news only a couple of weeks before the league is set to head to Los Angeles for the All-Star Game and is at least a slight indication that some new competitions could be part of the format.
With the Breakaway Challenge no more, though, let’s take a look back at five of the very best and most memorable moments from the contest:
5. Johansen gets some help, but Voracek one-ups him
Ryan Johansen had the Columbus crowd in the palm of his hands by using an Ohio State jersey as a prop, and he really got the crowd on its feet by getting a youngster to help bury a shot. It was a great moment, for sure, but Jakub Voracek really got the crowd laughing by stealing Johansen’s idea with the help of another kid on hand: diminutive Flames star Johnny Gaudreau.
4. Ovechkin is the new Captain Canada
If this is the end of the Breakaway Challenge for good, then Alex Ovechkin will go down as the greatest participant the competition has ever had. He won the first ever event in 2008 and with the chance to defend his crown in 2009, he pulled out all the stops, getting a hand from fellow countryman Evgeni Malkin and endearing himself to the Montreal crowd with an interesting choice of headwear.
3. The transformation of Burns
It almost doesn’t matter which team you support when it comes to Brent Burns. He’s an absolute stud on the blueline for the Sharks, he’s one of the most exciting players in the game, he’s got a unique love of animals and he has a Harry Potter tattoo. That last one will only please a certain generation of fan, but it’s indicative of the personality he brings. Burns also isn’t afraid to make light of his grizzled appearance, and he pulled off the perfect gag at the 2016 All-Star Game.
2. SuperKane takes center stage in Ottawa
Ovechkin was the king of the Breakaway Challenge for three straight All-Star Games, and it took a superhuman performance by Patrick Kane for someone to finally take the crown from the ‘Great 8.’ Kane went prop heavy with his attempts, but the clever use of an “exploding” puck was really the topper.
1. Subban pays tribute to greatness
As he continues his career well into his 40s, Jaromir Jagr’s status as one of the game’s most beloved players grows, and that seemingly goes for both players and fans alike. So, how do you win over an entire crowd and one of the greatest players the game has ever seen in one breakaway attempt? Well, you throw on a mullet, a Jagr jersey, some Cooperalls and cap it off with a salute.