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 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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    Red Wings’ Abdelkader out with lower body injury

    PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 15: Justin Abdelkader #8 of the Detroit Red Wings skates against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center on March 15, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Flyers defeated the Red Wings 4-3.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    The Detroit Red Wings will be without veteran forward Justin Abdelkader on Saturday night when they host the San Jose Sharks.

    The official word from the team is that he is sidelined with a lower body injury.

    He will be replaced in the lineup by Andreas Athanasiou. Athanasiou has appeared in three games this season and yet to record a point.

    He was not only in the lineup on Friday in the Red Wings in their 5-3 win over the Nashville Predators, but also scored his first goal of the season and played a season-high 17:55.

    After scoring 19 goals and recording 23 assists in 82 games in 2015-16 the Red Wings signed a seven-year $29.7 million contract extension.

    According to general manager Ken Holland (via Helene St. James) he is expected to be back in the lineup on Tuesday.

    Ales Hemsky returns to Stars lineup tonight

    NEWARK, NJ - OCTOBER 24:  Ales Hemsky #83 of the Dallas Stars skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on October 24, 2014 in Newark, New Jersey. The Stars defeated the Devils 3-2 in the shootout.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    When the Dallas Stars take on the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday evening one of their top forwards will be making his 2016-17 debut.

    The team announced on Saturday afternoon that forward Ales Hemsky will be activated from injured reserve after missing the first four games of the season due to a groin injury at the World Cup of hockey.

    He is expected to skate on the Stars’ top line on Saturday night alongside Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn.

    Now 33 years old, Hemsky isn’t quite as dynamic as he was during his prime years in Edmonton, but he is still an extremely skilled playmaker that is a solid fit in Dallas’ system. He is entering his third year with the Stars and has 71 points (24 goals, 47 assists) in 151 games with the team.

    With Hemsky now activated and back in the lineup, the Stars also announced on Saturday that veteran forward Jiri Hudler has been placed on IR retroactive to Oct. 15 due to illness.

    Goalie nods: Elliott won’t play against former team, Flames will start Johnson vs. Blues instead

    CALGARY, AB - OCTOBER 18: Brian Elliott #1 of the Calgary Flames during warm-ups prior to an NHL game against the Buffalo Sabres during an at Scotiabank Saddledome on October 18, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
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    Playing against your former team is always special, but Flames goalie Brian Elliott won’t have that pleasure tonight.

    Instead of giving Elliott the start against St. Louis, Calgary will turn to Chad Johnson.

    “You want to play good against your old teams,” said the veteran goalie, per beat reporter Wes Gilbertson. “Turns out, I didn’t get the opportunity today. Can’t really get hung up on it.”

    Elliott spent the previous five seasons with the Blues.

    It’s important to point out that these two teams will go head-to-head in St. Louis on Tuesday and Elliott will probably start that game.

    “We thought about it, obviously, with (Elliott) having such a great career in St. Louis,” Calgary coach Glen Gulutzan said, per the St. Louis Dispatch. “But at the end of the day, we thought we wanted to keep (Johnson) going a little bit so we put him in.

    Still, it has to be disappointing not to face your old teammates.

    The 31-year-old has struggled with his new team. He’s dropped each of his first three starts of the season and he’s allowed four goals or more in each of those games.

    Jake Allen will be between the pipes for St. Louis.


    Carey Price will make his second straight start since coming back from the flu. With Tuukka Rask on the shelf, the Bruins will likely turn to Anton Khudobin.

    –We should get an excellent goaltending duel in the Rangers-Capitals game, as Henrik Lundqvist will go up against Braden Holtby.

    Cory Schneider will get the call for the Devils, while the Wild have yet to name a starting goaltender. Don’t be surprised if it’s Devan Dubnyk.

    Martin Jones will be between the pipes for the Sharks. Jimmy Howard gets a second straight start for the Red Wings. He was excellent in Wednesday’s 2-1 win over the Rangers.

    Semyon Varlamov will make his third straight start for Colorado. He’s coming off a 27-save shutout against Tampa Bay. Veteran Roberto Luongo will start for Florida.

    Frederik Andersen will be in goal for the Leafs after getting the night off on Thursday. The Blackhawks will likely go with Scott Darling because Corey Crawford played last night.

    Eddie Lack will make his second consecutive start for the ‘Canes. The Flyers will go with Steve Mason.

    Andrei Vasilevskiy starts against Ottawa on Saturday night, while Craig Anderson will face the Bolts.

    –The Columbus Blue Jackets have yet to name their starter. Kari Lehtonen will be between the pipes for the Dallas Stars. Lehtonen has a 2.03 goals-against-average and a .934 save percentage against the Jackets in his career.

    Marc-Andre Fleury makes his sixth straight start for the Penguins. The Predators, who have been hit by food poisoning, have yet to name a starter.

    Jacob Markstrom is making another start for the Canucks. Peter Budaj is expected to get the nod for the Kings, after Jeff Zatkoff was injured during the morning skate.

    Gretzky surprised by support from Jets fans heading into Heritage Classic alumni game

    EDMONTON, AB - APRIL 6:  Former Edmonton Oilers forward Wayne Gretzky greets fans during the closing ceremonies at Rexall Place following the game between the Edmonton Oilers and the Vancouver Canucks on April 6, 2016 at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The game was the final game the Oilers played at Rexall Place before moving to Rogers Place next season. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)
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    It’s Heritage Classic weekend in the NHL, which means that there will be an alumni game between the Jets and Oilers on Saturday afternoon.

    The rivalry between these two teams has come down a few notches over the years (mainly because the Jets moved to Phoenix), but that doesn’t diminish how intense it used to be.

    It was so intense that Wayne Gretzky, who will be dressing for the Oilers alum, was surprised when he was cheered during Friday’s practice at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg.

    “I was kind of Public Enemy No. 1 back in the day,” Gretzky said, per “But, that is the way it should be. I was with the other team. When I was in Winnipeg, the people were great to me and they always treated me with respect. You have to cheer for your own team and I understand that.”

    It’s not hard to figure out why Gretzky and the Oilers were so hated in Winnipeg during the 1980’s and early 90’s.

    Edmonton won five Stanley Cups between 1984 and 1990 and they beat the Jets all six times they met in the playoffs, sweeping four of those.

    Gretzky, who’s looking forward to playing against the Jets alumni on Saturday, hasn’t played much hockey since retiring in 1999.

    “I don’t play a lot. I skate once a year. I just never really find the energy, the enthusiasm to grab my equipment and say I’m going to go play pickup hockey.

    “I played in one outdoor game in Edmonton and it was fun and it was great for hockey. When Winnipeg talked to me about this game a couple years ago, playing in Winnipeg was always fun and when we get together as a team, it is always a unique situation.”

    Here are the rosters for this afternoon’s game:

    The alumni game gets going at 4:00 p.m. ET.