Wayne Gretzky has been named global ambassador for Kunlun Red Star of the KHL, lending his name to the development of hockey in China. The team will open a Gretzky-named hockey school for children aimed to give the next wave of Chinese hockey players added coaching and opportunity. As the NHL continues to grow its brand around the world, the “Great One” will be a big part of that movement.
This comes before the 2022 Winter Olympics are held in Beijing, a tournament that may or may not have NHL involvement. The league held its players out of the most recent Olympics, but could return to the format if a financial agreement can be worked out. Attending the Olympics is likely going to be a topic in the next CBA negotiations, which could come soon as both the NHL and NHLPA have opt-out clauses next year that could bring a work stoppage in 2020.
- Vladimir Tarasenko was back in action yesterday, giving hope to the idea that he’ll be ready for the start of the 2018-19 season. Tarasenko injured his shoulder at the end of last season and needed reconstructive surgery, but has been cleared to skate and can even take some contact. The 26-year old sniper will be re-evaluated in September, at which point the St. Louis Blues will know if they’ll have him for opening night. The Blues have brought in several offensive players this offseason, but will still rely on Tarasenko to drive their attack.
- Chris Ryan of NJ Advance Media spoke to New Jersey Devils owner Josh Harris about upcoming extension negotiations with Taylor Hall, who explained that it was the team’s highest priority. Hall has two years remaining on his current contract meaning an extension can be signed on July 1, 2019 at which point he could become one of the highest-paid forwards in the league. The 26-year old Hall carries just a $6MM cap hit at the moment, is coming off a Hart Trophy-winning season, and has a good shot at leading the Devils back to the playoffs again in 2018-19. The fact that an owner is willing to comment on the situation should give hope to Devils fans that the team will do everything in their power to keep Hall around for many years.