The decision in the Ilya Kovalchuk contract grievance is expected to come down at some point today. We’ve analyzed what will happen depending on how the decision comes down, and while we’re expecting that systems arbitrator Richard Bloch will approve Kovalchuk’s 17-year, $102 million contract, we still know that funny things can happen when it comes down to a court case. You know, like sometimes Clarke MacArthur walks away with a $2.4 million award.
If you’re big into your NHL history, however, having the decision come down on August 9 helps make this an even bigger day when folks will look back upon what’s happened. On this day in 1988, Wayne Gretzky, two months removed from winning his fourth Stanley Cup with the Edmonton Oilers, was traded to the Los Angeles Kings in the biggest single transaction the sports world had seen. Gretzky, Marty McSorley and Mike Krushelnyski were all sent to the Kings for Jimmy Carson, Martin Gelinas, $15 million in cash and three first-round picks. The Gretzky deal taught nine year-old me at the time a life lesson I’ve yet to forget: If Wayne Gretzky can be traded, anyone can be traded.
If you’re big into numerology and how it’s spooky that the same number can keep cropping up, Kovalchuk’s number 17 has played a prominent role in things. He wears number 17. His contract is for 17 years. Today is August 9 (8/9; 8+9 = 17). Kovalchuk mentioned at his press conference that his father passed away on the 17th of month. A decision in his case is due by the close of business today at 5:00 p.m. which in military time is 17:00. This entire fiasco feels like it’s taken 17 days to get settled (it hasn’t). There hasn’t been this kind of wacky numerology since the movie “The Number 23” starring Jim Carrey.
One way or the other, I think we’ll all be happy once Richard Bloch’s decision comes down because either we can finally move on to other news or the summer got a lot more interesting.
With the World Cup of Hockey approaching, Ben Bishop seems optimistic he’ll be ready to participate in the Team USA training camp prior to the event.
Bishop, the Tampa Bay Lightning goalie, was injured on a seemingly innocent play and had to be stretchered off the ice in the first period of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final.
There had been talk that he could perhaps return to game action, but in the end, he didn’t play another game in the series, as the Bolts were eliminated by the Pittsburgh Penguins in seven games.
“The leg is feeling better and it’s getting stronger every day,” Bishop told ESPN.
“I’m getting ready to start skating soon … and get back on the ice and doing that side of things. We have about a month until we go, so I’ll start off slow and pick it up in the next month and be ready for training camp for the World Cup.”
Good news for Team USA, which also called on Jonathan Quick and Cory Schneider for their goaltending duties. The tournament begins Sept. 17.
In keeping with the optimistic mood about his status for the World Cup, Bishop last week revealed his new Team USA mask.
Related: Lightning lock up Vasilevskiy — what now for Bishop?
Surgery earlier this month to repair a core muscle has put Jamie Benn‘s status for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey in question, however the Dallas Stars captain still aims to be ready to play for Team Canada.
It was announced on July 15 that the recovery timeline for this surgery was six weeks, which certainly makes it possible that Benn could be ready for the tournament, which begins Sept. 17.
“As of right now, yeah. I think this is a surgery that I’m able to come back a little quicker than double-hip surgery. That’s the main focus I’m training towards being able to make it for World Cup. We’ll just see what happens,” said Benn, as per Mark Stepneski of the Stars’ website on Saturday.
“Well, I think I’ll get on the ice later this week and just keep ramping it up a little more each time. I still think that’s a lot of time, enough time for me to be ready to jump into high-level hockey.”
Benn had 41 goals and 89 points last season with the Stars. He signed an eight-year, $76 million contract extension on the same day his recent surgery was announced.
Benn’s teammate Tyler Seguin “should be ready for the World Cup,” said Stars GM Jim Nill earlier this month.
The Arizona Coyotes moved up the draft order to select defenseman Jakob Chychrun at 16th overall. And now, they have signed Chychrun to a three-year entry-level contract.
The Coyotes made the announcement on Saturday.
“We are very pleased to sign Jakob to an entry-level contract,” said Coyotes GM John Chayka in a statement. “Jakob is a highly-skilled player with an all-around game. He has a great work ethic and is very determined. We look forward to watching him continue to develop this season.”
When the 2015-16 season began, it was suggested Chychrun could potentially be a top-three pick in the draft in June. But he fell down the order, despite being the No. 4-ranked North American skater by NHL Central Scouting.
He was the fifth defenseman taken in the draft.
Listed at six-foot-two-inches tall and 215 pounds, Chychrun brings size and strong skating ability to the blue line. He had 11 goals and 49 points last season with Sarnia in the Ontario Hockey League.
The Coyotes selected Chychrun after acquiring the remainder of Pavel Datsyuk’s contract from the Detroit Red Wings and moving up the order.
Chychrun’s fall — and what precipitated it in the first place — was discussed in great detail when the Coyotes held their development camp earlier this month.
“I think it was about being tense,” said Coyotes director of player development Steve Sullivan. “All the pressure of wanting to be second overall and maybe not having a great season; it snowballed the wrong way for him.
“Now he needs to understand he’s been drafted into the National Hockey League and we’re going to put him in a game plan to get him here as fast as we can. He can loosen up and play the way we think he can play. If that happens, there is no reason why he won’t be here sooner than later.”
Coyotes’ defensive makeover continues with Luke Schenn signing
Report: Stone and Coyotes agree to one-year, $4M deal
Coyotes sign Connor Murphy to six-year extension
Don Henderson, the NHL linesman knocked to the ice by Calgary Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman, has undergone neck surgery to repair damage from the hit and there are fears his career may now be over, according to a report in the Boston Globe.
From Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe:
According to one of his friends in the officiating business, Henderson’s recent surgery was aimed at repairing two ruptured disks in his neck, the result of the hit. Felled in the second period, he dusted himself off and finished the game the night he was injured.
“I know a lot of people are saying stuff like, ‘Hey, Wideman’s not that type of guy . . . that’s not in his nature . . . he’s a good kid,’ ’’ said one of Henderson’s longtime pals in stripes. “And I say, ‘Yeah, so what?!’ That doesn’t make it any less egregious. He attacked him from behind, the puck was nowhere near the two of them, and now Henderson’s career may be finished. I don’t see much difference between what he did and Wayne Maki cracking his stick over Teddy Green’s head.’’
This is the latest development in a saga that has dominated headlines in the NHL since the incident occurred late in January.
Wideman apologized following the incident, saying the collision was ‘completely unintentional.’ The league later confirmed that Wideman had suffered a concussion from a hit just seconds before he checked Henderson to the ice near the bench.
He eventually received a 20-game suspension, but that was reduced to 10 games by a neutral arbitrator, although Wideman had already sat out 19 games when the decision was handed down following an appeal.
Report: NHL dismisses neutral arbitrator who reduced Wideman’s suspension
NHL sues NHLPA to reverse Wideman’s suspension reduction
NHL Officials’ Association ‘strongly disagrees’ with the decision to reduce Wideman’s suspension