News and notes from around the NHL this evening:
- International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) President Rene Fasal publicly stated today that the NHL has until the end of April to decide whether NHL players will play in the 2018 Winter Olympics, reports The Associated Press. NHL participation in the upcoming games has been a point of contention this year. Most recently, Steve Keating of Reuters reported that Gary Bettman stated that everyone “should assume the players are not going.” Whether or not Fasal’s deadline is a hard deadline or a soft one, Olympic participation may dominate hockey conversation when the League wants the attention focused on its first round playoffs.
- The Anaheim Ducks have reassigned forward Ondrej Kase to the AHL San Diego Gulls, reports Eric Stephens of the OC Register. The move comes as little surprise since Kase was scratched three times in the last four games, and failed to break the eight-minute mark in his last two appearances. In 51 games for the Ducks Kase scored 5G and 9A. In Kase’s nine games with the Gulls earlier this season he scored 3G and 4A, and a similar production streak could have him back up the NHL before the playoffs.
- The NHL Department of Player Safety released its video explanation regarding its decision to suspend Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen. Ristolainen received a three game suspension for interference after hitting Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jake Guentzel. The League’s decision was based on two points: (1) Guentzel did not touch the puck before being hit, and (2) the onus was on Ristolainen to alter course after the pass to Guentzel was tipped. The league did not accept Ristolainen’s defense that because he was skating backwards into the hit, he could not move in time. The league retorted that it was Ristolainen’s choice to lead into a hit that way, and he has to take responsibility for the consequences.