Skepticism surrounds the World Hockey Summit in Toronto

horstlichtner-whs.jpgSome of the big news of the week is going to surround the World Hockey Summit going on in Toronto. About the only thing that can stop people from talking about that this week would be Ilya Kovalchuk signing and we haven’t heard from him in a few weeks.  The World Hockey Summit brings together most of hockey’s biggest executives, coaches, general managers, players and media to discuss the state of the game.

While the event is being stressed as the World Hockey Summit, getting proper representation from all of the countries involved in developing the game in the IIHF aren’t being represented. Eight countries from the IIHF can be found amongst the speakers, panelists, facilitators. You can call it nine if you allow former Swiss national coach Ralph Krueger to be counted for Switzerland (he’s Canadian).

Certainly if one of the big things that’s going to be discussed during this mostly week-long event is about improving the growth of women’s hockey having better representation from some of the other countries taking part in the game might help their cause. After all, if the International Olympic Committee is serious about dropping women’s hockey from its list of events, having full representation there could go a long way to showing how much it means to them. Having the head of the IIHF Rene Fasel certainly shows that the IIHF cares, speaking to and hearing from individuals from those countries involved might come off looking better for the sport.

Looking at things a bit closer to home, having the major representatives from the NHL, NHLPA, IIHF, Hockey Canada, USA Hockey, the KHL and the CHL all there makes you think that this is a thorough meeting of the minds. Except that Paul Kelly of College Hockey, Inc. isn’t there nor are any major representatives of the NCAA. The head of the CCHA, Tom Anastos, will be in attendance as a member of USA Hockey but it’s rather curious that the other major league that sees junior-aged and future NHL players develop is barely represented. It certainly doesn’t do anything to help make fans feel better about the recruiting war between the CHL and the NCAA.

Other writers have stepped up to voice their questions about how much exactly this meeting of the minds is going to actually accomplish. Damien Cox of The Toronto Star says that things look nice on the outside but questions the aim of the event especially at $450 a ticket for fans that might want to join in on the festivities. George Malik of Mlive.com sounds off harshly saying this entire summit is meant to just be a positive PR-fest for everyone involved rather than being a place where issues are settled.

I don’t want to come off sounding like an old man shaking my fist at the neighborhood kids telling them to get off my lawn here, but while this event sounds like exactly the kind of thing hockey needs to help the heads of all these leagues to start putting their differences aside and working together to make the sport of hockey better all over the world, I can’t help but get cynical about the ticket price for regular fans to attend ($450) and how press-savvy everyone at this summit is. If we’re in search of biting comments and a war of words, we’ve come to the wrong place. It’s doubtful that the NHL and the KHL can solve their transfer problems, the CHL and the NCAA certainly won’t be discussing anything since only half of that battle was even invited to the summit and if you think the NHL and the NHLPA are even going to talk about their issues with each other you’re crazy.

Maybe they can all team up together and turn myself and others into liars and make this World Hockey Summit into something worth writing home about.

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    The Buzzer: Special nights for Seguin, Boyle, Rinne

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    Player of the Night: Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars.

    There some nice three-point nights on Friday, including nights involving Seguin’s opponents (Johnny Gaudreau scored one goal and two assists while Sean Monahan had 2G, 1A) and the guy who got picked ahead of Seguin many moons ago (Taylor Hall had a three-point night and a big hit).

    While you might feel the urge to ding Seguin for getting an empty-netter to collect a hat trick, he already covered the cool points portion of this contest earlier in the game with a sweet lacrosse-style goals.

    (I can’t get enough of those types of goals. Am I alone in that account?)

    Seguin crossed the 200-goal mark tonight, by the way.

    Highlight of the Night: Normally, I wouldn’t double-dip on a highlight, but it really cannot be overstated how cool it was that Brian Boyle finished this brilliant assist by Will Butcher on Hockey Fights Cancer night. (Also, the Seguin bit included his lacrosse goal anyway, so due diligence.)

    He definitely was emotional on Friday, as his family participated in the ceremonial puck drop. Here’s hoping he can stay healthy enough to score many more going forward.

    Streak-breaker: Jack Eichel helps the Sabres beat Connor McDavid and the Oilers. Buffalo had been on a seven-game skid.

    This was the best goal from Buffalo’s 3-1 win, though:

    Factoids:

    On a night when the Stars honored great two-way Finnish forward Jere Lehtinen, Pekka Rinne moved all alone for first all-time among Finnish goalies for shutouts, edging his former backup Carter Hutton in the process:

    It almost feels like the Vegas Golden Knights send a new (positive) record every night they play. (More on their win here.)

    Bearded wonder Joe Thornton now has his sights set on Super Mario:

    Injuries might obscure Nino Niederreiter‘s hot run, but it’s time to take notice if you haven’t already.

    Scores

    Bruins 4, Penguins 3
    Jets 4, Ducks 1
    Wild 3, Avalanche 2 (SO)
    Islanders 5, Flyers 4
    Capitals 3, Lightning 1
    Golden Knights 5, Sharks 4 (OT)
    Sabres 3, Oilers 1
    Devils 3, Canucks 2
    Rangers 2, Red Wings 1 (OT)
    Blue Jackets 5, Senators 2
    Maple Leafs 5, Hurricanes 4
    Predators 2, Blues 0
    Coyotes 3, Kings 2 (OT)
    Stars 6, Flames 4

    James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

    Golden Knights pad Pacific lead, even with Burns’ first goal

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    Coming into Friday’s game, what was stranger: Brent Burns having zero goals on the season despite 84 shots on goal in 20 games, or the Vegas Golden Knights leading the Pacific Division?

    Both points ended up being relevant to the discussion, as Burns finally scored his first goal of 2017-18 to help the San Jose Sharks rally for a “loser point,” but the Golden Knights ultimately won 5-4 in OT.

    With that, the Golden Knights won their fourth game in a row and now have 29 standings points, making for at least a slight cushion for the Pacific Division lead (the Kings are in action, but at 26 points, they’ll trail Vegas even if they manage a comeback win).

    Vegas probably wasn’t happy to see a three-goal lead dissolve, yet the Golden Knights just keep plugging away. They enjoyed a strong output from three forwards with plenty to prove in James Neal (one goal, one assist), William Karlsson (two goals), and Jonathan Marchessault (one goal and two assists). Both Neal and Karlsson are at 12 goals on the season now.

    The Golden Knights do have a bit to be concerned with, though, and that’s not limited to giving up the lead. Maxime Lagace “wasn’t feeling good” so he left the game for Malcolm Subban, while David Perron suffered an upper-body injury and did not return thanks to this questionable check:

    Even in defeat, Burns has to feel relief with this goal:

    Heck, even the Sharks seemed to wipe a little sweat off of their brows as the beastly blueliner finally scored.

    (Eh, Burns might need a few more goals to get people to stop complaining about his fantasy value. Sorry, Sharks.)

    Joe Thornton‘s two assists helped the Sharks secure a standings point, and now he sits alone at 12th all-time in assists, passing Joe Sakic.

    The Golden Knights continue to be one of the most heartening stories in the NHL, but even in grabbing the extra point, they’re only five ahead of the Sharks. Fighting off regression won’t be easy for the Golden Knights, yet they have incentive to push for some sort of home-ice advantage, as they improved to an impressive 9-1-0 in Vegas so far in their inaugural season.

    You never know how far a good run might take you, so don’t blame the Golden Knights for letting it ride.

    James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

    Video: Devils’ Butcher with some razzle dazzle to set up Boyle

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    If you’re the type to get annoyed when college free agents soak up a lot of attention during the dog days of the hockey summer (Brandon Dubinsky is nodding), you were probably fed up with defenseman Will Butcher by the time he chose the New Jersey Devils as his destination.

    Well, at least the 22-year-old blueliner is backing up the hype, especially when it comes to setting up goals.

    Butcher’s 15th assist (and 17th point of the season) ranks as one of his best yet, as he totally baffled the Vancouver Canucks before setting up a Brian Boyle goal. You can watch that sweet helper in the video above this post’s headline.

    Speaking of Devils rookies, it seems like Nico Hischier is OK after this Alex Edler hit, but the Devils might be wise to keep an eye on the top pick of the 2017 NHL Draft, as this looked a little worrisome:

    Again, it seems like Hischier avoided injury, yet we shall see.

    There was also this big hit by Taylor Hall on rising Canucks forward Brock Boeser:

    The Devils ended up beating the Canucks 3-2 on Friday.

    James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

    Well, at least Flyers are getting ‘loser points’

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    Love it or hate it, the loser point is a reality in the NHL, and the Philadelphia Flyers are one of the teams that really make things weird with what is now an 8-9-6 record in 2017-18.

    8-9-6. Look at that. It almost makes your eyes hurt, right? Something just seems wrong about that.

    No doubt about it, there are a lot of reasons to be frustrated if you’re a Flyers fan right now. Most obviously: they’ve now lost seven straight games after falling 5-4 in OT to the New York Islanders. Philly came into the third period with a 4-2 lead that they squandered, aside from getting a “loser point.” There’s at least some frustration with head coach Dave Hakstol:

    Still, in this weird standings format, not all losing streaks are equal.

    Bad: They dropped two straight games to the Islanders. Good-ish: At least both games went to overtime.

    Bad: Yeah, teams that want to take the next step can’t afford many slumps like seven games without a win. Good-ish: They grabbed four points during this skid. They’re at least scrapping for points when they can, in general; while they only have two wins in their last 10 games, yet they’ve managed at least a standings point in all but three (2-3-5, ugh).

    Bad: The Flyers are tied for last in the Metropolitan Division, and they’re really last since they’ve generated 22 points in 23 games while the Hurricanes have that many in 20 games played. Good-ish: While they have disadvantages that would force them to make a real run to do damage, you can’t rule out the Flyers in the wild card races.

    Ultimately, this team remains … perplexing.

    They have one foot in the current, with good stuff like the dominant Claude GirouxSean CouturierJakub Voracek line in mind, even if some of that makes moves like the Brayden Schenn trade sting a little extra. On the other hand, they’re trying to bring along a group of wet-behind-the-ears defensemen, and there’s a fear that that group will take long enough to hit its stride than some of those forwards will start to hit the wall of regression.

    Ultimately, it might be crucial for GM Ron Hextall to figure out what to emphasize in the near future, particularly the trade deadline.

    At the moment, the Flyers are essentially aiming for the best of both worlds: developing that young talent while hoping to be competitive. That’s a great have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too scenario, but sometimes teams really lower their ceilings by being too trigger-shy to commit one way or the other.

    You’d think with a seven-game losing streak, that Philly would be downright-bad. Instead, they seem more stuck in the middle, and such a situation presents its own set of problems, or at least some head-scratching questions.

    James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.