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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    Video: An early taste of the Tkachuk-inspired violence in Kings vs. Flames

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    BREAKING: the Los Angeles Kings really don’t appreciate Calgary Flames rookie-pest-forward Matthew Tkachuk thanks to that elbow on Drew Doughty (and the fallout from all … that).

    Tkachuk responded by critiquing Doughty for “complaining to the media,” so there was testiness from the start.

    There was jawing before the game. Then Jake Muzzin rebuked Tkachuk’s kind offer for a fight. Finally, Keith’s son dropped the gloves with Brayden McNabb:

    It wasn’t the only bout of the opening frame, and there could be more blood to come beyond this Jarome IginlaDeryk Engelland feud:

    Players from both teams better keep their heads up (and on a swivel) tonight. The Flames have to hope that this doesn’t result in injuries, judging from what happened to Johnny Gaudreau.

    Avalanche sign Toews-like first-rounder Tyson Jost

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    Things have been pretty bleak for the Colorado Avalanche this season, but at least they can look to a high pick in the next draft … and maybe dream about how their top pick from 2016 may pan out.

    The Avs signed Tyson Jost, the 10th pick of the 2016 NHL Draft, to an entry-level contract on Wednesday. Colorado notes that he’ll jump right into some NHL action to close out this season.

    It’s a nice sneak preview, as NHL insider Bob McKenzie noted on an NBCSN appearance (see above) that doing so will not burn the first year of Jost’s entry-level contract. Nice.

    Even nicer? McKenzie also compares Jost favorably to … (drum-roll, though the headline spoiled it) Jonathan Toews.

    Most obviously, the two both starred at the University of North Dakota. For the sake of fun, here are their numbers in their final years in the NCAA:

    Jost: 16 goals, 35 points in 33 games, +17 rating (2016-17)
    Toews: 18 goals, 46 points in 34 games (2006-07)

    Naturally, Toews enthusiasts in particular will tell you that points aren’t everything … but maybe there are some shades of the two-way Blackhawks center there?

    The Hockey News’ Ryan Kennedy raved that Jost has “man-strength already” back around the 2016 NHL Draft, as you can see in this profile.

    “Jost oozes confidence and already looks like NHL captain material for the future.”

    Hey, that does sound at least somewhat Toews-like, doesn’t it?

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    In other signing news, the Buffalo News’ Mike Harrington reports that the Buffalo Sabres signed UMass-Lowell’s CJ Smith. More on that below.

    Video: This Kane-to-Panarin goal is all sorts of ridiculous

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    When people were arguing against Artemi Panarin‘s Calder case, they often discounted his work because of Patrick Kane‘s brilliance (at least when they weren’t focusing on age questions).

    It always felt a little unfair to Panarin.

    Do we blame a great wide receiver playing with an adept quarterback? Sure, it’s an interesting discussion to have, but it seems fairly clear that there’s a symbiotic relationship between Panarin and Kane.

    One could see that plainly in a 1-0 goal for the Chicago Blackhawks against the Pittsburgh Penguins that … admittedly was driven by Kane’s almost audacious creativity and skill.

    But still, Panarin has 26 goals this season because he’s really good, too. This season has been a nice showcase for such thoughts, and a reminder that – like most great combinations – they make each other better.

    (Seriously though, Kane was out of his mind there.)

    ‘Old Time Hockey’ video game takes a bit of an early beating from reviewers

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    From the sound of things, “Old Time Hockey” is a video game with a lot of heart, but maybe not the skills to make it to the big time.

    While “NHL 17” is pumped out by publishing giant EA Sports, this title is very much an independent labor of love by a company called V7 Entertainment. Puck Daddy’s Sean Leahy provided a great interview with the developers here. It’s worth noting that the game reminds one of 8-bit titles in another way: lacking an NHL license, these teams are instead fictional. This isn’t necessarily a drawback as much as it provides the title with its own unique “flavor.”

    It’s hard not to get behind a scrappy development, especially in an age where sports video game options are so scarce. Some leagues barely see any licensed games any longer (see: the MLB, which feels woefully misrepresented these days), and the arcade-style that “Blades of Steel” and other old-school games popularized is even tougher to come by.

    Combine these factors with an aesthetic inspired by “Slap Shot” and “Old Time Hockey” seems like it could really scratch an itch … except, it sounds like the puck missed the net.

    So far, reviews are pretty mixed for the title, which is currently on PC and Playstation 4 (with planned releases on Xbox One and Nintendo Switch).

    While there are a few good reviews here and there, the general reception is of disappointment.

    A Sporting News review states that “the promising premise falls apart quickly.” Game Informer slams a “slew-footed story mode.” PC Gamer notes that, with EA not releasing an NHL game on that platform since 2008, there was a need here … but it wasn’t met.

    Does that mean there’s no fun to be had? Not necessarily, but it’s a bummer that the game might be off the mark, especially since V7 Entertainment seems to have its heart in the right place.

    Then again, maybe those who want that “NHL 94” fix merely need to dig a little. As this Vice article points out, there’s still an active community playing the sort of game that scratches the itch that “Old Time Hockey” – perhaps – can’t quite reach.