Jason Brough

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NHL officials in South Korea to inspect Olympic venues

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) National Hockey League representatives are in South Korea to inspect Olympic facilities as the league mulls a decision on whether to let its players appear for a sixth consecutive Olympics in Pyeongchang.

Pyeongchang’s organizing committee said the NHL delegation, led by vice president of international strategy Lynn White and facilities operation manager Dan Craig, will make inspections on Thursday and Friday of facilities in Gangneung, a city near Pyeongchang which will host the ice hockey tournament during the 2018 Winter Games. They will be joined by NHL Players’ Association officials Sandra Monteiro and Mathieu Schneider and the International Ice Hockey Federation’s Hannes Ederer and Christian Hofstetter, the organizing committee said.

Pyeongchang organizers consider securing the participation of NHL players as a critical issue as ice hockey is one of the most popular sports at the Winter Games. The International Olympic Committee’s negotiations with the NHL over having the league’s players competing in Pyeongchang have stalled over the IOC’s decision not to pay for NHL players’ travel and insurance as it has in the past.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly recently told The Associated Press he felt “negative” about the chances the league’s players will compete in Pyeongchang.

Christophe Dubi, the IOC’s executive director of the Olympic Games, told reporters earlier this month that the NHL deciding to inspect the Gangneung facilities was a “very positive step,” but didn’t offer a firm answer on whether the IOC would consider allowing the NHL to skip the Pyeongchang Games before returning for Beijing in 2022.

Related: Jan. 15 is deadline for Olympic decision, says IOC

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    Five NHL team stats you may find interesting

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    14 — The number of power-play goals surrendered by the Chicago Blackhawks. Yes, this topic has been beaten to death already, but for good reason. The next highest number in the NHL is eight, courtesy the Calgary Flames. It’s just very unlike the ‘Hawks, who’ve had great penalty killing in the past. Duncan Keith and Niklas Hjalmarsson, two of the best defenders in the game, have been on the ice for nine PP goals against! Jonathan Toews, one of the best defensive forwards ever, hasn’t fared much better; he’s been on for seven.

    9 — The number of power-play goals scored by the Nashville Predators. A pretty remarkable stat, especially considering the Preds have just two wins in their first five games. That kind of PP production can’t be counted on to continue, so they’d better improve at five-on-five. Also, avoid the soup in Detroit. It’ll getcha every time.

    17 — The total number of goals scored in all five New Jersey Devils games. And in case you thought that was low, two of those goals came in overtime. So far, the highest-scoring game the Devils have experienced was a 3-2 loss in Tampa Bay, with each of the other four finishing with a score of 2-1. Average number of goals per game this season? Just 3.4.

    7.4 — The average number of goals scored in an Ottawa Senators game. In other words, the Sens have a new coach, but not much has changed. Ottawa has played five games and has yet to give up fewer than three goals. Fun to watch, though.

    -7.6 — The average shot differential for the Colorado Avalanche, who’ve still managed to win three of their first five. The Avs have only outshot one opponent so far, by just two shots in their season-opener against Dallas. In their last three games, they’ve been outshot by a combined margin of 105-62. To be fair, all three of those were on the road against tough teams, but lots of work left for Jared Bednar, too.

    Stecher to make NHL debut for Canucks

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    It didn’t take long for the injury bug to bite the Vancouver Canucks again. Head coach Willie Desjardins announced this morning that forwards Alex Burrows and Derek Dorsett were expected to miss 7-10 days, each with undisclosed ailments, and that defenseman Chris Tanev was day-to-day after getting banged up Sunday in Anaheim.

    Of the three injured players, Tanev has by far the biggest role. The 26-year-old typically logs 20 minutes on the top pairing with Alex Edler. Tonight against Ottawa, Tanev will be replaced by rookie Troy Stecher, who will be making his NHL debut.

    Stecher, 22, signed with the Canucks in April after three years at the University of North Dakota. He had an impressive preseason but was sent down to AHL Utica to start the year.

    “Playing with Edler, certainly he’s going to get some hard match-ups,” said Desjardins, who opted to keep his other two defensive pairings together. Vancouver’s second pairing is Ben Hutton with Erik Gudbranson, its third is Luca Sbisa with Philip Larsen.

    Another former college star, Jayson Megna, will make his Canucks debut tonight, stepping in for Burrows on the fourth line.

    As for Nikita Tryamkin, the big Russian d-man is expected to be a healthy scratch for the seventh time in seven games.

    “He’s still on the program,” said Desjardins. “We’re still trying to get him to where we want him to be. He’s not quite there yet.”

    Tryamkin, 22, has refused to accept an assignment to the AHL.

    Investor offers to build Seattle arena without public financing

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    From King 5 News in Seattle:

    Chris Hansen and his investment team on Tuesday offered to forgo public financing to build a new sports arena in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood.

    The group also said it would cover the current funding gap to build an overpass over Lander Street, a project long desired by freight and industrial interests concerned about congestion in around the Port of Seattle.

    The proposal amounts to a stunning and swift turn in the nearly five-year debate over building a new arena and, ultimately, bringing a professional basketball and hockey team to the city.

    Be sure to click on the story for all the details. These stories are rarely simple, and there’s still no guarantee that Hansen and his group will get permission to build their new arena.

    But suffice to say, if a new arena does get built, Seattle will have a much better chance of landing an NHL franchise. Hansen has said he’s only interested in owning an NBA franchise, but back in 2014, billionaire Victor Coleman was reportedly working with Hansen to land an NHL tenant. It’s not clear if Coleman is still working with Hansen.

    NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has said that Seattle is not a consideration for relocation or expansion until there’s a suitable arena.

    Related: 

    — Bettman rejects notion that the NHL is waiting for Seattle

    — Pacific Northwest will ‘get serious consideration’ for expansion or relocation

     

    Kyle Connor expected to be healthy scratch for Jets

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    Jets rookie Kyle Connor played just 10:09 in Sunday’s outdoor loss to the Oilers, and tonight in Dallas it appears he’ll be a healthy scratch for the first time in his NHL career.

    Connor was not among the 12 Winnipeg forwards taking line rushes this morning. The 19-year-old has just one assist in his first five games as a Jet. He’s a minus-5 and has also struggled in terms of possession, as evidenced by his 38 percent Corsi.

    The 17th overall pick in the 2015 draft, Connor spent one year at the University of Michigan before leaving school to turn pro. He’s eligible to be sent to the AHL this season, something the Jets are no doubt considering.

    Winnipeg has a number of potential call-ups on its farm club, including Marko Dano, Quinton Howden, Andrew Copp, Nicolas Petan, and Jack Roslovic.