One of the hottest debates we’ll have for the next four years will be whether or not NHL players should return to the Olympics in 2018 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
One guy who supports keeping NHL players in the Olympics, however, is none other than Wayne Gretzky.
Gretzky spoke with Rob Pizzo on Hockey Night in Canada radio Friday afternoon and was asked his thoughts about whether or not NHL players should go back to the Olympics. The Great One is all in favor of it.
“When we grew up as kids we dreamed of winning the Stanley Cup. That was a goal that if you made the NHL you couldn’t play in the Olympic Games,” Gretzky said.
“So if I had a vote, I would vote to go because I love the Olympic Games and I think there’s no bigger honor, there’s no bigger thrill than representing your country and being part of Team Canada. It’s something you can’t even describe how special of a feeling it is to know that you get to put that red and white jersey on.”
Gretzky was a member of Team Canada’s 2002 gold medal-winning team in Salt Lake City and was also part of the 1998 team in Nagano. While he’s one major figure putting his support behind keeping NHL players in the Olympics, logistics of sending everyone to Korea could throw a wrench in things.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman refused to address whether or not they’ll participate in the 2018 Games and it’s not likely to be decided right up until the Games themselves. One thing that will the possibility alive, however, would be the players speaking up and saying they want to do it.
Well, the NHL’s two new initiatives for ’15-16 seem to be going swimmingly.
Not long after Ottawa successfully made the second-ever coach’s challenge, fans got their first look at 3-on-3 overtime.
And what a look it was.
In the span of 137 seconds, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Philadelphia Flyers combined for eight shots on goal, a few breakaways, some tremendous saves — including one on a penalty shot — and, finally, Jason Garrison‘s game-winning goal on a breakaway from center, giving the Bolts a 3-2 win.
It was, in a word, fun.
Lots of fun.
A quick sampling of reviews:
Of course, not everybody was a fan:
Now, to temper things a bit — this was the first time we’ve seen 3-on-3 with something on the line, so there was a novelty factor at play. There’s also no guaranteeing future OT sessions will be as exciting as this.
But none of that takes away from the fact 3-on-3 made for appointment viewing, and immense entertainment value. The prospect of future games like this? That’s pretty exciting.
Didn’t take long for Alex Burmistrov to make his presence felt — though not in a good way.
Burmistrov, playing in his first game for the Jets after a two-year stint in Russia, delivered a questionable elbow to the head of Boston’s Patrice Bergeron late in the first period of Thursday’s season-opener:
Burmistrov received a two-minute minor for an illegal check to the head, while Bergeron received a matching minor for roughing (retaliating for the elbow, specifically).
The Bruins went into the intermission leading 1-0, and have yet to update Bergeron’s status.
Update: Bergeron stayed in the game, but B’s head coach Claude Julien was none too pleased with the hit. Following the game, he called for the NHL’s Department of Player Safety to look at it…