If the NHL won’t send players to the 2018 Olympics, it won’t stop Alex Ovechkin from representing Team Russia. ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that the superstar simply said “I will go there,” and elaborated a bit more on his wording:
“My decision is the same,” Ovechkin said. “So, I don’t know what’s going to happen right now, but we just have to wait what they say and we’ll see. …It’s a situation where you don’t know what’s going to happen. But obviously I said I’m going to play.”
The major hangup over participation is 2018 is insurance costs for players should they play in South Korea. The IOC, according to LeBrun, have expressed hesitancy over covering travel and insurance costs for those playing in the Olympics.
In other hockey news:
- The Detroit Red Wings have offered Dan Cleary a professional tryout tweets Ansar Khan. Cleary spent the season in Grand Rapids, and was not re-signed by the organization. However, this news will certainly rankle many Detroit fans who point to Cleary as one of the many reasons the Red Wings have continued to slide. Cleary had a hand shake deal with general manager Ken Holland to return following the 2013-14 season, a season where his decline began. Since then, he played sparingly and was relegated to the AHL after the emergence of Dylan Larkin and Andreas Athanasiou.
- With the World Cup of Hockey beginning its first slate of tournament games today, analysts have started releasing their predictions. NHL.com had a slew of analysts picking their favorites and there were three analysts (Amalie Benjamin, Michael Langr and Dave Stubbs) to reach the championship round. Langr believes that Team USA will win Group A. As for the champions, it was either Team Canada or Team Sweden from the handful of analysts. Puck Daddy’s crew of Greg Wyshynski, Sean Leahy, Josh Cooper and Jen Neale all have Canada being crowned as champions. The runner ups varied from the US (Wyshynski and Neale) to Sweden (Cooper and Leahy). Neale adds that the matchup the NHL desires is USA-Canada, but Sweden–or possibly Team North America, could certainly prevent that.
- Puck Daddy’s writers also conducted a roundtable where they discussed what must happen for the World Cup to be considered a success. Wyshysnki is conflicted because the success of the World Cup–which he calls a negotiating tool against the IOC–may encourage the lack of NHL participation in the Olympics. This is less about national pride, Wyshynski writes, and more about showing the viability of international hockey outside of the Olympics. WCOH gear is selling well and advertisers are aplenty. Josh Cooper writes that North America, USA, and Canada all need to be successful because it was placed in the North America timezone to cement its support. Neale adds that every game needs to be competitive in order to keep the casual fan interested. Ryan Lambert just hopes for more entertainment than an NHL exhibition game, calling that a moral victory for the NHL.