IIHF encouraged by 2018 Olympic talks with NHL and NHLPA


IIHF encouraged by 2018 Olympic talks with NHL and NHLPA

International Ice Hockey Federation President Rene Fasel said he had a "good discussion" Wednesday with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHL Players Association Executive Director Don Fehr about the world's top hockey players participating in the 2018 Olympics in South Korea.

"No hitting, and no elbows," Fasel joked in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

Bettman described the meeting as "constructive and candid."

"Still lots of issues," Bettman wrote in an email to the AP.

Fasel said his job is to raise funds for the players' transportation and insurance. The International Olympic Committee does not want to cover those costs as it has the previous five Olympics. Fasel hopes to persuade the IOC to financially support the NHL's participation.

"It is the only league that shuts down to participate in the Winter or Summer Olympics," Fasel said.

Bettman and NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly declined to comment on a Sportsnet report indicating the league has offered to sign off on allowing players to go for gold in South Korea in exchange for the union not opting out of the collective bargaining agreement in September 2019, which would in effect extend the deal for three years.

"There have been some suggestions that could be construed that that discussion would be worth having," Fehr told reporters in New York. "Obviously, we discuss that with players. We have begun that process, but we're a long way from done."

Bettman has said a decision would need to be made by early January at the latest, giving the league time to create its 2017-18 schedule with or without a two-plus week break for the Olympics.

Fasel isn't in a rush.

"We can wait longer because we want to do all we can to keep best-on-best hockey in the Olympics," Fasel said.

NHL and NHLPA officials recently visited the Olympic site in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and have deemed it suitable for international competition.

Whether the world's best hockey players go to South Korea in about 15 months is up to the league and union, though Russian superstar Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals has said he will go even if there isn't an agreement.

The IOC spent about $14 million to cover travel and insurance costs for NHL players for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Fasel has said the bill would be about $10 million for the next Olympics because it won't be necessary to charter planes to South Korea as it was to get players to Sochi.

The NHL hasn't sounded eager about going to South Korea, but does appear very interested in tapping into China's huge market in 2022.

"When the IOC awarded the Beijing Games, it certainly created a bigger opportunity than we thought existed potentially before," Daly said in September. "But it is also possible that you don't go to one Olympics and you do go to the other. I don't think anybody has ruled that out as a possibility."

Fasel has been trying to persuade national Olympic committees and hockey federations to donate funds to keep the game's best players on the biggest stage in sports. He acknowledged the IIHF could possibly use some of the $40 million it gets from the IOC every four years and make cuts from its development programs for boys and girls.

"It's not going to be easy to get this done, but that's my job," Fasel said.

Donato misses Bruins practice for Harvard class commitment

Donato misses Bruins practice for Harvard class commitment

It might have caused a ripple when Ryan Donato wasn’t on the ice on Tuesday afternoon in St. Louis for Bruins practice on the day after his brilliant, three-point NHL debut for the Black and Gold. But the 21-year-old Donato was still back in the Boston area fulfilling some class requirements at Harvard University to help him close out the current semester properly, and not lose the credits that will keep him in line with fulfilling his junior year at Harvard University.

Believe it or not, the schoolwork is important to the newest member of the Boston Bruins and he intends to study and hit the books on his road trips, and also intends to take classes in the summertime to still graduate on time next season.

“I’m planning on finishing the semester academically. I want to finish the semester academically,” said Donato, after Monday’s morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena prior to last night’s debut vs. Columbus. “Obviously it’s going to be something that’s difficult, but for me it was a dream to graduate from Harvard. I’m putting that off a little bit, but I need to be able to finish this semester in order to have that opportunity, and not put it off for another couple of years. I want to finish out the semester.”

Donato is also still living in the Harvard dorms while “moonlighting” as an NHL hockey player for the rest of the season, but that isn’t all so uncommon among some of the college players that leave school early. Charlie McAvoy was similarly living in the Boston University dorms last spring through Boston’s playoff run, and didn’t clear out of his college living situation until after the Black and Gold had been eliminated by the Ottawa Senators last April.

Missing practices on an NHL schedule is certainly a new one with, Donato, however, and takes the student-athlete concept to a whole new level for somebody that's already turned pro. One has to expect this was one of the things being discussed in full when the Donato family, Ryan's agent and the Bruins discussed his contract terms over the weekend before coming to an agreement.

Along with Donato, who is scheduled to fly into St. Louis and play against the Blues on Wednesday night, Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, Charlie McAvoy, David Backes, Jake DeBrusk, Rick Nash and Torey Krug were all missing from the ice at Tuesday’s team practice ahead of a four game road trip against Western Conference opponents.


Morning Skate: Claude's Habs 'not a very good team'

File photo

Morning Skate: Claude's Habs 'not a very good team'

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while not really digging these forecasts of more snow.

*You know, if he weren’t making millions and millions of dollars I might actually feel bad for ol' Claude Julien up in Montreal busting out the “We’re not a very good team” soliloquy with the Habs. That team flat out stinks this season and these past few weeks it can’t be fun at all being the head coach of that dumpster fire.

*Darren Dreger says there is no rush for the Toronto Maple Leafs to bring back Auston Matthews before he’s ready to go, and that’s absolutely the case so close to the playoffs.

*Here are five Hart Trophy-caliber players that won’t get a sniff of the voting, but deserve some attention nonetheless. There are no Bruins players on the list if you’re wondering, but some pretty good ones in Johnny Gaudreau and Aleksander Barkov.

*The NHL general managers are weighing potential changes to the goalie-interference interpretation ahead of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

*While it still looks a Swedish defenseman is going to be the No. 1 overall pick this June, there are some other players rocketing up the list.

*For something completely different: The definitive ranking of Girl Scout cookies from best-to-worst that we’ve all been waiting for.

*Song of the Week: Haven’t done one of these in a long, long time, but I like this Calvin Harris/Katy Perry/Pharrell Williams tune that I hadn’t heard until the past couple of days.