IIHF president would 'fight like hell' if NHL pursued European expansion

While it isn’t spine-shattering news like the NHL rejecting Ilya Kovalchuk’s contract, it does seem like the World Hockey Summit had its first bit of pizazz-infused banter today. International Ice Hockey Federation chief Rene Fasel made no mistake that an often-rumored but seemingly impractical European NHL expansion would be met with serious opposition.

Here is more from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail.

“I will fight like hell and not allow anybody to come from abroad,” said Fasel Tuesday, when asked about the much-rumoured, but never actually articulated idea that European expansion is the NHL’s next frontier.


“I don’t think an NHL division in Europe would fly,” said Fasel. “If they have a lot of money to invest, they could try, but as long as I’m sitting in my chair, I would never allow it to happen.”

Instead, Fasel imagines in the future, “a European league, where we have five, six teams from Sweden and the KHL together with the Finns, the Germans, the Swiss and then try to have a European champion and having this European champion play the Stanley Cup winner. That would be, for the hockey fans, music.”

Whether Fasel is breaking character or not, I think he makes a valid point. Even if European leagues wouldn’t resent the NHL encroaching on their territories, the concept of a European division seems impractical once you consider how costly travel is for hockey teams in North America alone. After all, you’re not going to want to totally isolate those European teams, are you?

(Of course, the NHL might decide to expand in the year 2700, a time when we clearly will already know how to teleport and drive hover cars. Or the human race will be extinct. It’s one or the other; I’m unwilling to conceive of any other possibility.)

Anyway, Fasel also discussed the fact that the NHL would have a larger presence if the league continued to be involved in Olympic hockey. He stated that the $3-$4 million the IIHF might be able to raise to encourage NHL to participate would be “pocket money,” which I think is another good point. (Read the article for more details.)

Again, we’ll keep you informed during those maybe-rare times when something interesting will pop up from the World Hockey Summit.

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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 NHL.com. “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.