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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    Varlamov injured, again, as questions arise about future in Colorado

    Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov, of Russia, takes a drink during a time out against the Arizona Coyotes in the second period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, March 7, 2016, in downtown Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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    So, an interesting series of events for the Avs on Wednesday.

    First, the club announced that No. 1 netminder Semyon Varlamov‘s troublesome groin — one that’s hampered him throughout the last two seasons — will sideline him for the next two weeks.

    “We’re going to shut [Varlamov] down until after the All-Star break [Jan. 27-30],” coach Jared Bednar told the Avalanche website. “This is no longer a day-to-day thing.”

    Varlamov, who turns 29 in April, has struggled with health and consistency since his banner ’13-14 campaign — the one in which he led the NHL with 41 wins, finished second in Vezina voting and fourth for the Hart Trophy.

    He appeared in 57 games in each of the last two seasons, but his save percentage steadily dropped (from .921 to .914). This year, he’s only played 24 times, and he’s at an ugly .898.

    Given he’s nearly 30 and trending in the wrong direction, it wasn’t entirely surprising to read this today, from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman:

    We’ve been focusing on defencemen as what the Avalanche will be acquiring for one of their cornerstone forwards.

    But don’t be surprised if a goalie becomes a focal point of the conversation, too. I’m not sure Colorado is too secure in what they have.

    Varlamov’s smack in the middle of a five-year, $29.5 million extension, one that carries a $5.9 million cap hit. That’s a big financial obligation. Outside of Varly, Colorado has a young ‘tender in Calvin Pickard — the 24-year-old in his first full year as Varlamov’s backup — but right now, it’s unclear if the Avs see him as a potential No. 1.

    It’s also unclear what the organization thinks of Spencer Martin, the 63rd overall pick in ’13. Martin’s played reasonably well for AHL San Antonio this year, and is still just 21 years old.

    Add it all up, and the goaltending situation is just another wrinkle in what’s become a very complex situation for Colorado.

    Toffoli unlikely to join Kings on road trip

    LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 05:  Tyler Toffoli #73 of the Los Angeles Kings gets a shot on Marc-Andre Fleury #29 of the Pittsburgh Penguins during the second period at Staples Center on December 5, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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    The Los Angeles Kings will have to keep on keeping on without Tyler Toffoli.

    Toffoli has not played since Dec. 20 due to a lower-body injury, and head coach Darryl Sutter doesn’t expect the sniper will join the Kings for their upcoming road trip.

    “It was four weeks yesterday,” Sutter said, per LA Kings Insider. “We thought he’d be further ahead. Once we came back and had the doctor’s evaluation we were told a three-to-six week time frame, so yesterday was four weeks, so we thought he’d be a little further ahead, but at the same time, there’s a fine line between the healing and the training. I think Tyler’s pushing hard and we want him back. We were hoping to have him for sure on this next trip, so that doesn’t appear to be the case right now because he hasn’t had any skating or practicing.”

    Toffoli did actually hit the ice for a skate this morning, but there remains no timetable for his return.

    Without Toffoli, the Kings have been leaning heavily on Jeff Carter to score. Carter has a team-high 23 goals; Tanner Pearson is next with 13, followed by Toffoli with eight.

    Read more: Kings still don’t have timetable for Toffoli’s return 

    Los Angeles hosts San Jose tonight, then hits the road for five games starting Saturday in Brooklyn. A poor trip and the Kings — currently holding down the second wild-card spot, but only barely — could find themselves on the outside looking in.

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    Goalie nods: Pavelec to make season debut for Jets

    DENVER, CO - APRIL 09:  Goalie Ondrej Pavelec #31 of the Winnipeg Jets looks on during a break in the action as he defends the goal against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on April 9, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Avalanche defeated the Jets 1-0 in an overtime shootout.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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    Well, it’s come to this for the Winnipeg Jets.

    Undone all year by shaky netminding from Connor Hellebuyck and Michael Hutchinson, the Jets finally saw enough this week and recalled veteran Ondrej Pavelec from the AHL.

    Tonight, Pavelec makes his season debut when the Jets host the Coyotes at the MTS Centre.

    Waived just prior to the start of the regular season, Pavelec — in the final year of a much-maligned five-year, $19.5 million contract — passed through unclaimed and was dispatched to Manitoba, where he’s performed reasonably well.

    The 29-year-old posted a .917 save percentage in 18 games and, while that’s hardly the stuff of legend, his play was steadily improving prior to his recall. On Sunday, he stopped 42 of 43 shots in a win over Chicago.

    The big question, of course, is if Pavelec can show some consistency, which he’s always lacked at the NHL level. He went 13-13-4 with a .904 save percentage last season, and his career save rate is just .907.

    For the Coyotes, Mike Smith is in goal.

    Elsewhere…

    Matt Murray, fresh off allowing seven goals in a win over Washington, goes for the Pens in Montreal. He’ll be up against Carey Price, who’s struggled lately and has just an .886 save percentage in January.

    Jared Coreau has two shutouts in his last four start for Detroit, so the Wings will go back to him tonight when they host the B’s. Tuukka Rask, hooked in Monday’s ugly loss to the Isles, goes for Boston.

    Roberto Luongo gets the night off after Florida lost in Calgary last night, meaning James Reimer goes in Edmonton. The Oilers will go with Cam Talbot, who’s embracing his heavy workload this season.

    — Speaking of heavy workloads, Martin Jones will be back in for the Sharks tonight, as they travel to Los Angeles. He’ll be up against Peter Budaj.

    Don’t expect a full-scale rebuild in Detroit

    Colorado Avalanche v Detroit Red Wings
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    Don’t expect the Detroit Red Wings to tear it down and start over. Even if they miss the playoffs for the first time since 1990 — which appears likely at this point — GM Ken Holland has no intention of changing course.

    “We’re going to continue to try and be competitive, we’re going to continue to try and make the playoffs and our ultimate goal is to eventually be a Cup contender,” Holland said today, per MLive.

    The long-time GM added that having veterans like Henrik Zetterberg and Jonathan Ericsson around to guide the younger players was key to maintaining the culture of the Red Wings.

    The Wings aren’t the only team that’s opted for a rebuild-on-the-fly model. The Boston Bruins, New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks are also attempting similar transitions.

    “To me, rebuild means eight to 10 years, and there are teams that have made the playoffs one year in 10 while rebuilding,” said Holland.

    And that’s simply not something the Wings are willing to risk. So they’ll keep at it their own way, just trying to win every game they can.

    Related: Sedin says a ‘winning culture’ is important to maintain