Saturday Seven: Hockey All Over the World

Curtis LeBlanc
April 08 2017 04:06PM

The next time we publish the Saturday Seven, playoff hockey will be underway. For now, we'll have settle for the slow trickle of NHL news—warm takes at best—as the regular season wraps up this weekend.

NHL Olympic Chances "Officially Closed"

Earlier in the week, the league released the following statement on the NHL's involvement in the 2018 Olympic Games in PyeongChang:

“We have previously made clear that, while the overwhelming majority of our Clubs are adamantly opposed to disrupting the 2017-18 NHL season for purposes of accommodating Olympic participation by some NHL players, we were open to hearing from any of the other parties who might have an interest in the issue (e.g., the IOC, the IIHF, the NHLPA) as to reasons the Board of Governors might be interested in re-evaluating their strongly held views on the subject. A number of months have now passed and no meaningful dialogue has materialized. Instead, the IOC has now expressed the position that the NHL’s participation in Beijing in 2022 is conditioned on our participation in South Korea in 2018.
And the NHLPA has now publicly confirmed that it has no interest or intention of engaging in any discussion that might make Olympic participation more attractive to the Clubs. As a result, and in an effort to create clarity among conflicting reports and erroneous speculation, this will confirm our intention to proceed with finalizing our 2017-18 Regular Season schedule without any break to accommodate the Olympic Winter Games. We now consider the matter officially closed.”

(from Sportsnet)

The decision is massively disappointing for fans and players alike. It also appears to be a clear contradiction to the NHL's repeatedly stated goal of growing the game internationally. Still, Capitals' bottle-rocket Alex Ovechkin has announced that he's going to go to South Korea anyway and more will likely follow suit.

Many remain hopeful that the league and the NHLPA can reach an agreement, but the official statement from the league this week feels damning.

But They WILL Play a Preseason Game in China

Last week, the league announced it would hold its first-ever preseason game at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai, China on September 21st, 2017, followed by a second game at Huaxi LIVE Wukesong's Le Sports Centre in Beijing on the 23rd. The games will be played by the Vancouver Canucks and the Los Angeles Kings.

Count Bettman had this to say about the announcement:

"The 2017 NHL China Games presented by O.R.G. Packaging represent the formal launch of what we hope will be a long and successful collaboration between our League, our teams and our partners in accelerating the development of hockey in China," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said, "We look forward to our first games in China and to a variety of initiatives that will inspire generations of Chinese players and fans to enjoy our sport. We recognize the importance of helping China build a strong national hockey program and are committed to supporting that priority in every way possible."

(from NHL.com)

Right. Because once the Chinese people get a taste of the Vancouver Canucks' minor league roster, they'll be hooked!

Benjamin Hinterstocker Says What We Should All Be Saying

The IIHF Women's World Championships wrapped up on Friday when USA took home the gold and Canada, the silver. Germany lost to Finland 8-0 in the bronze medal game.

Maple Leafs' Historic Rookie Trio

William Nylander and Mitch Marner joined Auston Matthews in the 60 point club this week to become only the second rookie trio on a single team to all break 60 points since Peter Stastny, Anton Stastny and Dale Hunter did it with the 1980 Quebec Nordiques. Read Evan Presement's full article over at Leafs Nation

Blackhawks Rest Star Players for Playoffs

Much to the chagrin of fantasy owners, the Chicago Blackhawks made the decision to rest several of their best players earlier this week, presumably to avoid any late-season injuries heading into the playoffs.

Curiously enough, those players will be back in tonight when the Hawks take on the Kings in LA.

It's almost as if the league wasn't happy that the Blackhawks, who have already clinched the Western Conference, weren't all that interested in putting on a show at the risk of ruining their playoff chances, and then someone important made a phone call to someone else important...

Golden Knights Make A+ #Content

Seedy NHL News of the Week

The defamation lawsuit—filed by R.J. Cipriani, the husband of Jane the Virgin actress Greice Santo—is aimed at G.F. Bunting and Co, a public relations firm hired by Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz, who is not listed as a defendant in the case. The allegations against Katz are included in the lawsuit.

The firm in question is famous for aiding universities like Florida State, Baylor and Occidental save face during sexual assault scandals.

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Curtis LeBlanc is a writer, poet and hockey person living on the west coast. You can follow him on Twitter @curtiswleblanc and check out his website at www.cwleblanc.com.
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