Czech coach resigns after disappointing Olympics, blames media

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According to reports out of the Czech Republic, coach Alois Hadamczik has resigned from that position with the team following the Czechs sixth-place finish in Sochi.

While they made it as far as the quarterfinals before losing to the United States, the team was wrought with controversial choices for the roster as well as Hadamczik’s methods and decisions behind the bench.

During the Games, there were reports of dysfunction in the Czech locker room and while those reports were denied, the team’s play on the ice pointed towards there being other problems.

Of course, if you ask Hadamczik about why he’s stepping down, he has other ideas about why.

Darn that media for rising up against the coach who happened to pick Michal Barinka, his son-in-law, instead of taking St. Louis Blues defenseman Roman Polak.

Daly addresses Voynov potentially returning to Kings

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An interesting development on Monday, prior to Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final — following Gary Bettman’s state of the league address, deputy commissioner Bill Daly was asked about the possibility of former Kings d-man Slava Voynov returning to the NHL.

Voynov hasn’t played in L.A. since the ’14-15 campaign, when he was suspended indefinitely while facing domestic violence charges.

“If that was ever something that was proposed, we’re on record as saying that would require a proceeding before the commissioner,” Daly said, when asked about Voynov’s possible return.

When asked if Voynov had “served his time,” Daly offered the following:

“Ultimately that’s not my decision, that’ll be Gary’s decision.

“I don’t want to speculate either on what that might be. I’ve hear from time to time that he might have an interest in coming back to the National Hockey League, but that hasn’t advanced in any material way to this point.

“So let’s wait and see if it happens.”

The Voynov topic arose when a reporter asked Daly about the league’s stance, on the understanding that “at one point, the Kings were considering trying to bring [Voynov] back.”

That came on the heels of a report from John Hoven of Mayor’s Manor, who said Kings management and scouts had seen Voynov play “multiple times” this season.

In July of 2015, Voynov pleaded no contest to a reduced misdemeanor charge and was sentenced to 90 days in jail. Months later, he returned to his native Russia and signed a three-year pact with SKA Saint Petersburg.

The move freed L.A. from Voynov’s $4.16 million average annual cap hit. Per The OC Register, Voynov’s decision to “self-depart” the U.S. may have kept the door open for a return to North America at some point in the future.

In October, Team Russia tried to include Voynov on its active roster for the World Cup of Hockey, claiming it was in negotiations with the league on the matter. The NHL eventually ruled him ineligible — “our position was the NHL suspension disqualified him,” Daly explained — and he was eventually replaced by Bolts blueliner Nikita Nesterov.

Bettman dismisses Penguins’ complaints about Crosby treatment

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PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford is not happy with some of the treatment his captain and best player, Sidney Crosby, has been receiving this postseason.

The most notable example was probably the cross-check to the head he received from Washington Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen in the second-round, forcing him to miss the remainder of that game as well as the next one. In Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Ottawa Senators, he was on the receiving end of some extra curricular activity, including this water bottle squirt from Mike Hoffman during the game.

In speaking to Ken Campbell of the Hockey News on Sunday, Rutherford sounded off and said that if the league does not take steps to protect its stars the league is headed back to where it was in the 1970s.

From The Hockey News:

“I hear year after year how the league and everyone loves how the Penguins play,” said Penguins GM Jim Rutherford. “ ‘They play pure hockey and they skate.’ Well, now it’s going to have to change and I feel bad about it, but it’s the only way we can do it. We’re going to have to get one or two guys…and some of these games that should be just good hockey games will turn into a sh—show. We’ll go right back to where we were in the ’70s and it’s really a shame.”

And more…

“The league has got to fix it,” Rutherford said. “In other leagues, they protect star players. In basketball, they don’t let their top players get abused. And in our league, well the thing I keep hearing is, ‘That’s hockey. That’s hockey,’ No, it’s not.”

On Monday, during his annual state of the league address before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, Bettman was asked about the treatment of Crosby as well as Rutherford’s comments.

Bettman said even though he has tremendous respect for Rutherford he found the timing of the comments to be “odd.”

“In the last few hours I saw Mr. Rutherford’s comments, and on a both a personal and professional level I think the world of Jim Rutherford,” said Bettman.

“He has done a great job here, as he did in Carolina. The timing of what he said seems a little odd. That is something you do in a GM’s meeting, not the night before or day of the Stanley Cup Final.”

Specifically, Bettman seemed to write it all off as gamesmanship leading into the Stanley Cup Final.

“Maybe he is trying to tweak the officials a little bit, but in the final analysis, we don’t want our players getting hurt. I think it is fair to say all of the teams that have been in the playoffs have been very physical. There are a couple of people have complained from other teams about some of the things Pittsburgh players have done. Some of that goes in the category of gamesmanship. Some of that goes to the fact we need to be vigilant as a league to make sure players are not unnecessarily and inappropriately hurt. As I said that is something we continue to monitor and will. Having said that I take all of the concerns from all of our players, all of our clubs and all of our owners very seriously on this issue.”

Along with the concussion that Crosby received as a result of the Niskanen hit, he also had another hard fall into the boards later in that series and was then on the receiving end of some extra curricular activity from the Ottawa Senators late in the Eastern Conference Final.

Niskanen was ejected for his cross-check, but did not receive any supplemental discipline from the league.

The truly eye-opening thing about Rutherford’s commentary was the part where he said they might need to get “one or two guys,” seemingly referring to a desire to bring in some added muscle. Along with that sort of thing not really working as a deterrent, that would also run counter to the way Rutherford has built this Penguins roster over the past two years where they have been more focussed on speed and skill than size and toughness. Given that they are back in the Stanley Cup Final for the second year in a row the approach seems to be working.

Tampa awarded the 2018 All-Star Game, further dampening Olympic hopes

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PITTSBURGH — The Tampa Bay Lightning will host the 2018 NHL All-Star Game.

The league made the announcement today before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, confirming a report that came out a couple of weeks ago.

The announcement was noteworthy beyond the Bolts getting the event. It was also the latest nail in the 2018 Winter Olympics coffin, so far as NHL participation is concerned.

That’s because the last three Olympic years (2006, 2010, 2014), there has been no All-Star Game.

The 2018 Winter Olympics run Feb. 9-25 in South Korea, starting just two weeks after the 2018 ASG is now scheduled to be played (Jan. 28).

The final, final nail in the coffin could come next month when the NHL announces the 2017-18 schedule during the draft in Chicago (June 23-24).

The league announced in April its “intention” to finalize the 2017-18 schedule “without any break to accommodate the Olympic Winter Games.” However, some felt at the time that the league was bluffing.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said today that nothing had changed with regards to the April announcement.

Could Larry Robinson be joining the Florida Panthers?

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Last week, it was revealed that with his contract about to expire, Larry Robinson would not return to the San Jose Sharks.

Robinson, a six-time Stanley Cup champion with the Montreal Canadiens as a player, was the Sharks’ director of player development. He joined the club in 2012.

Like with any departure, Robinson’s set forth the usual questions about where he’ll surface next. Given the comments his agent, Donnie Cape, made to the Montreal Gazette a few days ago, Robinson still wants to work for an NHL club — just not behind the bench as a coach.

That same report said Robinson, who lives in Florida, could have the Panthers “high on [his] wish list.”

More, from the Gazette:

Cape said the perfect role for Robinson at this point in his life would be to work with players at training camp, keep tabs on the development of young defencemen during the season and then spend time with players when necessary if they are having specific problems. Cape expects his phone to start ringing with calls from NHL general managers interested in Robinson’s services, and why wouldn’t they be?

“If it’s the right thing, we can wrap it up right away,” Cape said. “If it takes time, it doesn’t matter. It’s more important the fit than anything else. The comfort zone, respectability, all that has to come into play.”

On Monday, a report from 91.9 FM radio’s Jean-Charles Lajoie said Robinson will join the Panthers, becoming a development coach for the team’s defensemen. Lajoie added Robinson will work strictly in Sunrise, and not travel with the club.

If the report pans out, the move makes sense.

One of the greatest defensemen of all time and an experienced coach, Robinson could be the ideal tutor for Florida’s collection of good young blueline talent. Aaron Ekblad, the 2015 Calder Trophy winner as the league’s top rookie of the year, only turned 21 in February. Ian McCoshen, 21, made his NHL debut last season, appearing in three games. Michael Matheson, 22, is another promising blueliner that’s twice represented Canada at the World Hockey Championship.

It should be noted the Panthers have not made any confirmations or official announcements with regards to Robinson.

Related: Panthers reportedly will speak with Housley after Stanley Cup Final