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IOC bans Russia from 2018 Winter Olympics; hockey participation still unclear


IOC bans Russia from 2018 Winter Olympics; hockey participation still unclear

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) made a stunning announcement on Tuesday, declaring the suspension of the Russian Olympic Committee and the banning of Russia from the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.

The action was taken due to the findings of the Schmid Report, led by the former president of Switzerland, Samuel Schmid.

The report confirmed “the systemic manipulation of the anti-doping rules and system in Russia, through the Disappearing Positive Methodology and during the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014, as well as the various levels of administrative, legal and contractual responsibility, resulting from the failure to respect the respective obligations of the various entities involved.”

The IOC did create a path for clean Russian athletes to participate in PyeongChang, but they will compete under the name of “Olympic Athlete from Russia” with a uniform bearing that name and under the Olympic flag. The Olympic Anthem would be played in place of the Russian anthem in any ceremony.

The decision will have far-reaching consequence for every sport, but particularly in hockey. Given that the NHL already decided not to participate in the 2018 Olympics, the KHL looked to be the premier league from which athletes could be taken.

When it was clear an Olympic ban was a real possibility, however, the KHL began discussing the possibility of not participating either. Most players in the KHL are Russian and — as the second best hockey league in the world — an Olympic tournament without NHL players would have made Russia the clear favorites to win.

With Russia now banned, the KHL has no incentive to allow athletes from other countries to participate.

Russia could still compete in the hockey tournament as a neutral team, but it is unclear whether they will go that route.

For the U.S. and Canada, a KHL ban would further limit the players in which they could choose for their teams.

There are still minor leagues like the AHL, though players in the AHL with NHL contracts are also barred from participating, as well as junior leagues and the NCAA. There are also several other European hockey leagues such as those in Sweden and Switzerland.

Alex Ovechkin was an outspoken critic of the NHL’s decision not to participate in the Olympics and even went so far as to declare he would participate for his native Russia regardless, though he later backed down from that declaration.

The IOC’s ban means now that he won’t be missing out on the opportunity to represent his home country, though it is doubtful he will find any consolation from Tuesday’s stunning news.

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Term, not money, was the main sticking point in Brian MacLellan's negotiations with Barry Trotz


Term, not money, was the main sticking point in Brian MacLellan's negotiations with Barry Trotz

Despite winning a Stanley Cup less than two weeks ago, the Capitals found themselves without a head coach on Monday with the stunning news of Barry Trotz’s resignation.

At Wednesday’s breakdown day, Trotz told the media he wanted to be back in Washington. General manager Brian MacLellan said he wanted Trotz back. But both alluded to possible issues that had to be sorted out in any contract negotiations.

Obviously, those issues were not resolved.

“[Trotz’s] representative wants to take advantage of Barry’s experience and Stanley Cup win and is trying to negotiate a deal that compensates him as one of the better coaches in the league, a top four or five coach,” MacLellan said in a press conference with the media on Monday. “He’s looking for that kind of contract.”

But if you think money was the main sticking point between the two sides, that’s not the case. Money was a factor, but there was a bigger factor that held up negotiations, according to MacLellan.

“I think the five-year term is probably a sticking point,” he said. “We have a coach that's been here four years. You do another five, that's nine years. There's not many coaches that have that lasting ability. It's a long time and it's a lot of money to be committing to that, to a coach.”

Of the head coaches currently employed in the NHL, only Joel Quenneville has been the head coach of his current team, the Chicago Blackhawks, for over nine years.

Trotz’s contract included a clause that would extend his deal a further two years if the team won the Stanley Cup. While the team was comfortable with that clause and did engage in talks on renegotiating the contract after the season, they were not willing to sign him to a deal as expensive or, more critically, for as long as Trotz sought.

“I don’t think all teams pay that type of money and years," MacLellan said. "Certain teams are open to it and the rest of the league isn’t.”


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Before Capitals' Barry Trotz, here are other coaches who didn't return after a championship victory


Before Capitals' Barry Trotz, here are other coaches who didn't return after a championship victory

 Barry Trotz resigned as the coach of the Washington Capitals, the team announced Monday, less than a week after the team's Stanley Cup championship parade. 

In part of a statement via Trotz's agent, the departing coach said:

After careful consideration and consultation with my family, I am officially announcing my resignation as Head Coach of the Washington Capitals. When I came to Washington four years ago we had one goal in mind and that was to bring the Stanley Cup to the nation’s capital.

As shocking as the news may be to fans who are still celebrating the team’s first Stanley Cup championship, Trotz isn’t the first coach to not return to a team following a title.

He joins a handful of hockey coaches who have made similar moves for differing reasons, including:

— Scotty Bowman (1978-79 Montreal Canadiens)

— Bob Johnson (1990-91 Pittsburgh Penguins)

— Mike Keenan (1993-94 New York Rangers)

— Scotty Bowman (2001-02 Detroit Red Wings)

But this isn’t exclusive to hockey.

Multiple coaches in other sports have also called it quits after raising their respective trophies, and here are some of the notable ones.

Most recently, Zinedine Zidane caught everyone by surprise when he resigned as Real Madrid’s manager five days after leading the team to a third straight UEFA Champions League title.

After the Chicago Bulls’ 1998 NBA championship — also Michael Jordan’s final season in the Windy City — Phil Jackson resigned and took a year off before returning to coaching.

In 1990, Bill Parcells won a Super Bowl with the New York Giants and didn’t return, while Dick Vermeil did the same thing with the then-St. Louis Rams in 1999.

Jimmy Johnson led the Dallas Cowboys to back-to-back Super Bowl titles during the 1992-93 and 1993-94 seasons before parting ways with the team.