NHL: Minor-leaguers also barred from participating in Olympics


NHL: Minor-leaguers also barred from participating in Olympics

Not only will Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews and most of the best hockey players in the world not be going to the Olympics, neither will anyone on an NHL contract.

The league has decided that players with active NHL contracts, even those in the minors, will not be allowed to participate in the Olympics next February in South Korea. Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly confirmed the league's stance to The Associated Press on Monday

The league announced in April it wouldn't be stopping its season to go to the Olympics for the first time since 1994, but questions had remained about players in the American Hockey League and ECHL .

"A decision has been made that all players under NHL contract will be subject to similar treatment," Daly said.

This means players signed to two-way NHL contracts or who are loaned to minor league affiliates by their clubs won't be available to the United States, Canada or other national teams. The AHL said earlier this summer that general managers could decide to allow players on AHL contracts to play in South Korea.

Daly confirmed that players signed to NHL deals but who are playing in Europe, like Dallas Stars first-round pick Miro Heiskanen who is expected to spend the season in Finland, would not be precluded from playing in the Olympics. Those players loaned to European teams wouldn't be playing the season on their NHL contracts, which is the same situation for those on entry-level deals in Canadian major junior leagues.

Jim Johannson, USA Hockey's assistant executive director of hockey operations and the U.S. general manager for the 2018 Olympics, said that organization will honor its partnership with the NHL and not put anyone under contract in its player pool. Hockey Canada is also expected to avoid any potential conflicts.

Johannson said Friday the official Olympic regulations hadn't been finalized until recently.

"For me the bottom line is if they're not on the NHL registry, meaning an NHL registered contract, then they're eligible," Johannson said.

That means top American-born AHL players like 2016-17 leading scorer Kenny Agostino, defenseman T.J. Brennan and goaltender Troy Grosenick won't be part of Team USA because they're signed with NHL clubs for this season. Chris Bourque, son of Hockey Hall of Famer Ray Bourque, and goaltender John Muse are examples of U.S.-born players on AHL contracts who could be selected.

The U.S. team is expected to be made up of a mix of current college players, those on AHL deals and professionals playing in European leagues. Canada, as it showed with rosters for two exhibition tournaments in Russia this week, will lean heavily on European-based players with others mixed in

Morning Skate: Bruins troll Felger for lack of confidence

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Morning Skate: Bruins troll Felger for lack of confidence

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while the Bruins are going into troll mode.

*Here is the aforementioned “troll mode” for the Bruins now that they’ve clinched a playoff berth. They came out with a marketing campaign where they’re dragging FOH (Friend of Haggs) Mike Felger for his early season take that the Bruins season is over. He also ripped the young players at the beginning of the year as well, so they used the sound from “Felger and Mazz” with video clips of David Pastrnak and Charlie McAvoy dominating for the Black and Gold, and shots of the young players mean mugging at the camera. It definitely shows that the Bruins perhaps care a little too much about what the media thinks about them, but it’s also a fair bit of clap-back toward a take that was a little too harsh on the B’s early in the season.

*What a great piece on the Stoneman Douglas hockey team as they embark on a national hockey tournament after winning at the state level in the weeks after the Parkland shooting.

*Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman says the Hawks aren’t shaken even as they’ll be missing the playoffs for the first time in a long time. What a disappointing season.

*Despite a great season, Taylor Hall may end up missing the playoffs with the New Jersey Devils amidst his Hart Trophy-type season.

*Good news for the Toronto Maple Leafs as Auston Matthews is returning from injury ahead of the playoffs

*For something completely different: This new, updated version of the Karate Kid web series looks awesome with Billy Zabka and Ralph Macchio.



Cassidy eyeing possible Bergeron return this weekend

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Cassidy eyeing possible Bergeron return this weekend

Bruins star center Patrice Bergeron has been dealing with a fractured foot injury since late February. He sustained the injury while blocking a shot in the loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Coach Bruce Cassidy is predicting a return for Bergeron this weekend against the Minnesota Wild if he is medically cleared. He will be evaluated tomorrow.

Depending on the results from the evaluation, there might not even be a need to rush Bergeron back with the Bruins clinching a playoff berth in a 2-1 OT loss to the Blues yesterday evening.

MORE BRUINS: Bruins clinch playoff berth in 2-1 OT loss to Blues​

The Bruins currently sit six points behind the Tampa Bay Lighting for first place in the Atlantic Division. Ten games currently remain on the B’s schedule with the Presidents' Trophy also hanging in the balance.

If the B’s decide to make a run for the Presidents' Trophy, Bergeron would definitely provide a boost in play in addition to leadership for the final stretch of the regular season.