As collective bargaining continues to progress between the NHL and NHLPA, one of the major issues still in discussions is the league’s participation in the Olympics. The NHL notably sat out the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, as the owners’ complaints included the extended break in the league season, the injury risk to star players, and the lack of value in the locale. With the first two arguments unchanging and the next two Games being held in Beijing, China and Milan, Italy, it is unlikely that the NHL Board has changed their stance on Olympic participation. However, there is a reason why “bargaining” is a key word in the CBA. If Olympic participation is a sticking point for the players, the NHL could use it as leverage in another area of negotiations. Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reports that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr, and IIHF President Rene Fasel plan to meet in Sweden in two weeks during the NHL Global Series between the Buffalo Sabres and Tampa Bay Lightning in Stockholm. The trio of leaders will discuss the issues and options regarding the league’s Olympic participation, but there is unlikely to be a resolution from just the one meeting. Johnston calls the Olympic issue a “major hurdle” in CBA talks, so it could be that the upcoming summit is just the beginning of working toward an answer.
- One of the more notable NHL players to sign in Europe this off-season is already out of a job. The KHL announced that Lokomotiv Yaroslavl has terminated the contract of forward Ty Rattie. It’s unclear if this was a mutual termination or if Rattie was cut from the team, but either way the 26-year-old winger will be looking for a new place to play. The news comes as a surprise, as Rattie has recorded nine points in 16 games for Lokomotiv and was part of a strong core group of former NHLers alongside Stephane Da Costa, Anton Lander, and Jakub Nakladal. The KHL is no stranger to payroll problems, which may have led to Rattie’s release, but one would think that the team could have traded him instead. Thus, it is more likely that Rattie requested his contract be terminated to go play elsewhere. After a career-high 50 NHL games with the Edmonton Oilers last season, it very well could be that Rattie feels he belongs in North America and has been waiting for an opportunity. Stay tuned to this story to see what comes next for the former second-round pick.
- Going the other way is big, two-way forward Connor Brickley. Brickley had a difficult summer, failing to find an NHL contract despite a full season with the Florida Panthers in 2017-18 and a nice stretch run with the New York Rangers last year. On top of that, he failed to turn PTO’s with both the Rangers and their AHL affiliate, the Hartford Wolf Pack, into a contract. As a result, Brickley has decided to take his talents to Germany. EC Salzburg of the Austrian-based EBEL has announced a one-year contract with Brickley. A high-scoring AHLer and a veteran of 81 NHL games, Brickley immediately becomes the most decorated player on the Red Bulls’ roster and should provide a major boost to the team this year. Brickley likely hopes that a dominant performance in the EBEL will be enough to garner more attention in North America next off-season.