Some of the biggest news and notes (and bad takes) from this week in hockey.
Wednesday was full of surprises as most people probably were distracted by hockey games on TV or at their local rink on Tuesday night.
First, if you didn’t see the news late Tuesday night, then you probably woke up delighted to hear that USA Hockey and the US women’s national team came to an agreement that will 1) pay women’s players more, 2) established a Women’s High Performance Advisory Group to help oversee and assist USA Hockey with fundraising and promoting girls and women’s hockey at all levels to help grow the game and 3) sends the original Team USA members to the 2017 IIHF Women’s World Championship being held in Plymouth, Michigan (which starts on Friday, by the way).
To summarize, it’s a four-year contract that’s a step forward, but ultimately, probably still not enough to be perfectly ideal and equal. We’ll all keep working on that, right?
I mean, let’s not forget the foolishness of USA Hockey to have contacted members of the U16 team to play against professionals before this agreement was made. Absurd!
US games will be carried on NHL Network and streamed on NHL.com, so check your local listings for times and more– I’ll be busy watching USA vs Canada on Friday night, thank you very much.
Charlie McAvoy joined the Providence Bruins (AHL) on an ATO for the rest of the season, thereby forgoing his remaining career at Boston University, much to the dismay of Terriers fans (okay, maybe not). Boston Bruins general manager, Don Sweeney, was smart not to burn a year off an entry level contract while trying to get McAvoy up to speed in the professional game.
In fact, this is something most general managers have been doing at this point of the season, with the exception of University of North Dakota product and Colorado Avalanche prospect, Tyson Jost’s signing with the Avalanche. Colorado GM Joe Sakic indicated that Jost will be inserted immediately in the lineup– for the remainder of the regular season– in the midst of a season to forget for the Av’s.
As noted by Mike Kelly (NHL Network, TSN, LeafsTV), the Avalanche are really, really bad. Like, really, really, really bad this year.
Tough year for Avalanche, who with 1 more loss, would not have enough points to make playoffs in 48-game, lockout shortened 2012-13 season. pic.twitter.com/OlmnpWUoNo
— Mike Kelly (@MikeKellyNHL) March 30, 2017
In other news, Los Angeles Kings forward, Jarome Iginla picked up the game winning goal (his 100th of his career) and the Gordie Howe Hat Trick in a 4-1 victory over the Calgary Flames on Wednesday night.
Good for him, though I’m sure Flames fans felt uneasy for their favorite adopted son knowing that their team is probably going to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs instead of the Kings. Just like everyone predicted back in October.
Not so long after everyone was gleaming about the US national women’s team agreement with USA Hockey, University of North Dakota cut their women’s hockey program on Wednesday.
In addition to women’s ice hockey, UND also got rid of their swimming and diving team (both men’s and women’s). SB Nation’s Joe Barbito (per The Ice Garden), reported that the team was already on the ice preparing for next season as news about the program’s demise began circulating. Even a recruit was on campus for an official visit, only to find out about the disappointing news from one of the most competitive programs in the country.
Several former UND hockey players have spoken out and expressed their displeasure with the university.
Also making waves on Wednesday was the miracle that nobody expected from a league otherwise known for secrecy.
The NHL announced that the Expansion Draft lists for protected and available players for the Vegas Golden Knights’s choosing will be made available to the public around June 18th. This is good. This is what fans like. Fans also like salary cap information and stuff like CapFriendly, but we’ll see if the league will ever make more of a shift towards being more open and informative than what’s already surprised many with the Expansion Draft lists announcement.
Wednesday’s surprise announcement wasn’t the only thing from the league, as NHL Commissioner, Gary Bettman was on hand along with members from the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks for the official announcement of the 2017 NHL China Games presented by O.R.G. Packaging that will be played at Mercedes-Benz Arena and the Huaxi LIVE Wukesong’s Le Sports Center in Shanghai on September 21st and September 23rd, respectively.
Expanding the game, good. The whole Kings and Canucks matchup, not as good. I mean, Vancouver is destined for a turnaround, but it just seems like they won’t be competitive enough for Los Angeles, even for preseason games. Then again, the Canucks are quietly gaining ground (on a developmental level).
Last week the league announced the 2017 SAP Global Series matchup between the Colorado Avalanche and the Ottawa Senators to take place in Stockholm, Sweden in November. Those regular season games make sense, as long as the Avalanche don’t trade Gabriel Landeskog before then.
But if anything, think of the huge draw for Erik Karlsson fans in his homeland alone.
Both global preseason and regular season games will be the first of their kind since the last regular season games played in Europe in 2011.
And so far through Thursday, looking past matchups and injuries, we’ve been reminded that on this day 38 years ago, the NHL voted on the merger of four World Hockey Association (WHA) teams to begin play in the league for the 1979-1980 season.
Only the playoff bound-for-the-first-time-since 2006, Edmonton Oilers remain in the same location since the merger, as the Winnipeg Jets jettisoned for Arizona, Québec Nordiques left for Colorado and the Hartford Whalers became the Carolina Hurricanes 20 years ago.