Cam Tucker

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 30:  NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman speaks with the media during a press conference prior to Game One of the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the San Jose Sharks at Consol Energy Center on May 30, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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Bettman: Discussions about NHL participation at 2018 Olympics ‘not on the front-burner’

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For months now, the prospect of possible NHL player participation at the 2018 Olympics hasn’t been promising.

Take the remarks of commissioner Gary Bettman, as per the LA Times, at the beginning of this year’s Stanley Cup Final for example:

“For us to have to pay to go to the Olympics based on everything that’s attendant to that, putting aside the fact that we get no access to our players, we don’t get to promote the fact that we’re there, and we have to disrupt our season, as I indicated in my remarks, I don’t see the board wanting to pay for the privilege. And by the way it does cost us money now, just to deal with the things we have to deal with beyond the costs they pick up.”

Or, on the same subject, IIHF president Rene Fasel ominously saying it “doesn’t look very good.”

Or Fasel saying the International Olympic Committee won’t pay for transportation or insurance costs for NHL players in 2018.

Bettman, as outlined Wednesday by the Chicago Tribune, shed some light on the upcoming process and how the respective positions of other organizations may impact the league’s decision. But whatever discussions the NHL does get involved in with the IIHF and IOC won’t happen for a while.

From the Chicago Tribune:

On NHL players participating in the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea:

“We probably won’t get to it in terms of serious discussions one way or another with players’ association and the IIHF and the IOC until winter. It’s not on the front-burner right now.”

On the hurdles of coming to an agreement to play in the Olympics:

“There have been a lot of reports about positions that either the IOC or the IIHF have or will take and that’s something we’ll have to analyze at the time we have to make the appropriate decision.”

NHL players have been participating in the Winter Olympics since 1998 in Nagano, Japan.

Report: Lightning sign James Wisniewski to PTO

Phil Kessel, James Wisniewski
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After having his 2015-16 season reduced to just 47 seconds of ice time, defenseman James Wisniewski has signed a professional tryout (PTO) with the Tampa Bay Lightning, according to James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail.

Wisniewski, 32, had one more year left on his six-year contract with an annual cap hit of $5.5 million, but the Hurricanes bought out the remainder of his deal the day before free agency opened.

He suffered a torn ACL just 47 seconds into his debut with the Hurricanes at the beginning of last season, and didn’t play another shift in 2015-16.

The Hurricanes initially acquired the veteran blue liner from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for goalie Anton Khudobin in June of 2015.

‘He knows all about pressure’: Retired NHLer Ray Whitney to caddie for Graham DeLaet at Rio Olympics

NEWARK, NJ - JANUARY 09: Ray Whitney #13 of the Dallas Stars skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on January 9, 2014 in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils defeated the Stars 1-0.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Former NHL forward Ray Whitney has made it to the Rio Olympics. As a caddie for Canadian golfer and ardent Calgary Flames fan Graham DeLaet.

The opening round of the men’s golf competition begins Thursday, with DeLaet teeing off at 7:30 a.m. local time in Rio with Adilson da Silva of Brazil and Byeong Hun An of South Korea.

NHL players, past or present, caddying for pro golfers has been done before, including James Wisniewski on the bag for his friend and world No. 1-ranked Jason Day.

DeLaet doesn’t seem hesitant about relying on Whitney to relay some of his experience in high-pressure situations.

“He’s one of the most competitive people I know. He’s a Stanley Cup champion (in 2006 with the Carolina Hurricanes) and he knows all about pressure,” said DeLaet, as per TSN.

“I will lean on him a little bit more for support than advice maybe a lot of times, but he knows my game well enough and he knows when to kind of give me a little shove and say, ‘Let’s get going,’ and when to maybe let me blow off some steam.”

DeLaet has been a Flames fan for years, dating back to the days of Theo Fleury.

“I grew up in Moose Jaw when (Theo) Fleury was playing there for the Warriors,” DeLaet told the Calgary Herald last year. “He got drafted (by the Flames in 1987), won a Cup there in his rookie year, so I was pretty much hooked. I was seven years old in ’89.

“I was pretty much locked in from there on.”

Prior to Rio, the last time golf was part of the Olympics was in 1904.

At the age of 42, Whitney officially retired from pro hockey in January of 2015. He scored 385 goals and 1,064 points in 1,330 career NHL games.

Edmonton, Las Vegas to showcase new arenas during NHL preseason

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After ending their time at Rexall Place in style, the Edmonton Oilers will open up their new state-of-the-art arena, Rogers Place, with four exhibition games before the beginning of the regular season.

On Wednesday, the NHL announced the exhibition season schedule, highlighting the debut of two new arenas — Rogers Place in Edmonton and T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas — in the league.

The Oilers will play four exhibition games in their new arena, beginning on Sept. 26 with a split-squad game against the Calgary Flames. They will then host the Anaheim Ducks (Oct. 4), Winnipeg Jets (Oct. 6) and Vancouver Canucks (Oct. 8), before opening the regular season at home against the Flames on Oct. 12.

It was only a month ago that the ice surface at Rogers Place was put in.

From Global News in July:

Crews were working on a test sheet of ice, about half the height of a normal NHL sheet. They’ve been busy testing the cooling systems in the ice slab for the past couple of weeks.

The L.A. Kings will play a pair of exhibition games at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. They’ll play the Dallas Stars on Oct. 7 and the Colorado Avalanche the following night.

Installation of the ice surface at T-Mobile Arena began at the end of last month.

More from the NHL:

Kraft Hockeyville has become a staple of the preseason schedule, and this year Canada winner Lumby, British Columbia, and United States winner Marquette, Mich., will be in the spotlight. The Oilers and Kings play at Kal Tire Place in Vernon, British Columbia on Oct. 2 (9 p.m. ET; SN), and the Buffalo Sabres and Carolina Hurricanes play at Lakeview Arena in Marquette on Oct. 4 (7 p.m.. ET; NBCSN).

There will be two preseason games played on college campuses. The Minnesota Wild play the Sabres at Pegula Ice Arena at Penn State University in State College, Pa., on Sept. 26, and the New Jersey Devils play the Florida Panthers at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., on Oct. 8.

 

Devils sign RFA Boucher to one-year, two-way deal

Chicago Blackhawks v New Jersey Devils
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The New Jersey Devils and restricted free agent forward Reid Boucher have put pen to paper on a new one-year, two-way contract worth $715,000 at the NHL level, the club announced Wednesday.

Boucher, selected by the Devils in the fourth round of the 2011 NHL Draft, turns 23 years old in September.

He has split each of the last three seasons between New Jersey and its AHL affiliate in Albany.

With good offensive numbers in the minors, Boucher scored eight goals and 19 points in 39 games with New Jersey last season.

However, his 2015-16 season didn’t get off to a great start, as Boucher was diagnosed with a concussion while playing for the Devils in the Buffalo Sabres Prospects Challenge last September.