Jason Brough

NASHVILLE, TN - JANUARY 30:  Aaron Ekblad #5 of the Florida Panthers poses for a 2016 NHL All-Star portrait at Bridgestone Arena on January 30, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Sanford Myers/Getty Images)
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Report: Ekblad cleared by Panthers doctors

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Aaron Ekblad has been medically cleared by Florida Panthers doctors, according to TSN’s Darren Dreger.

That’s a big relief for everyone involved after Ekblad was injured while representing Team North America in the World Cup. The injury was originally reported as a “mild” concussion, though it was later called a neck injury.

The 20-year-old has since been back on the ice working out.

“Ekblad is going to be fine,” Panthers coach Gerard Galant said. “You see him out there skating already. I think it was a little scary, but he feels real good. He’s going to skate and see how he feels, but everything looks good.”

The first overall pick in the 2014 draft, Ekblad had already dealt with at least one concussion during his playing career. He suffered one in an international exhibition game during the summer of 2014, just prior to his outstanding rookie season with the Panthers.

The World Cup seems destined to end with a quiet thud

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 27: Steven Stamkos #91 of Team Canada blocks Nino Niederreiter #22 shot on net during Game One of the World Cup of Hockey final series at the Air Canada Centre on September 27, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Dennis Pajot/Getty Images)
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If Team Europe was ever going to make the World Cup final interesting, it was probably going to happen last night. The heavily favored Canadians were bound to come out a bit flat against a non-traditional opponent, and that’s exactly what happened in a less-than-electric Air Canada Centre.

But despite carrying the play for much of the first period, the underdogs trailed 2-0 after 20 minutes. They would go on to lose, 3-1.

It could’ve gone a different way, but it didn’t.

“In the first, I thought that they were better than us for large stretches of the game at times,” said Team Canada’s head coach, Mike Babcock. “I thought they executed and played fast. I didn’t think we moved the puck out of our zone at all tonight, went back and forth. We had guys out there that didn’t talk to one another so actually didn’t play fast and then turned the pack over on entry, so they looked quicker than they were and we probably looked slower than we were.”

Team Europe’s coach, Ralph Krueger, was left to bemoan what could’ve been, while trying to build on the positives.

“I thought we could have tested (Carey) Price a lot more with the chances we had, and some of them just died on our own sticks,” he said. “But lots of good things there, lots of effort, and something to build on for Game 2 for sure.”

The problem for the Europeans is that they’re unlikely to catch their opponents on another off night. Expect a much more motivated, much less sloppy Canadian side in Game 2.

“For whatever reason, we weren’t as good as we felt we were capable of being, so we’ll fix that and be better,” said Babcock. “You’d like things to be perfect every night, but it’s just not real.”

Game 2 goes Thursday in Toronto. A Canadian victory and that’s it for the tournament — one that started with a decent amount of positive buzz, thanks to a couple of spirited Canada-U.S. exhibition games and the high-flying exploits of Team North America, but seems destined to end with a quiet thud.

Unless, of course, the Europeans can find a way to push it to Game 3, but that was always an unlikely scenario. They had a chance to make things interesting on Tuesday. They probably won’t get another.

Related: Kesler was ‘really disappointed’ with World Cup atmosphere

Report: Coyotes’ Rieder is considering KHL, among other options

New York Islanders v Arizona Coyotes
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Arizona Coyotes forward Tobias Rieder has a big decision to make. The 23-year-old restricted free agent has been embroiled in contentious contract negotiations for much of the offseason, and now he’s reportedly considering his options.

According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, those options include taking the Coyotes offer, requesting a trade, signing in the KHL, or sitting out.

Rieder had 14 goals and 23 assists in 82 games last season for Arizona. Born in Germany, he’s currently representing Team Europe in the World Cup final against Canada.

Rieder’s agent, Darren Ferris, has said his client won’t attend Coyotes training camp after the World Cup is over — unless, of course, a deal is struck.

“We’ve made them a fair offer at two years at $2.5 million a year, and they’re unwilling to do it,” Ferris recently told the Arizona Republic.

The Coyotes have reportedly offered between $2 million and $2.3 million per season on a two-year deal, so it’s not exactly a huge gulf between the two sides.

Of course, it wasn’t a huge gulf between Vladimir Sobotka and the St. Louis Blues, and look what happened there.

Report: Players still undecided on how to split World Cup profits

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 13:  Don Fehr, executive director of the National Hockey League Players Association meets with the media at the Marriott Marquis Times Square on September 13, 2012 in New York City. Joining him from left to right is Ruslan Fedotenko, Henrik Lundqvist, Zdeno Chara and Sidney Crosby.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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You’d think the NHLPA would’ve already decided how to split its share of World Cup profits among its membership.

But according to a report by TSN’s Rick Westhead, you’d be wrong:

While the accounting on the World Cup probably won’t be finished for several months – meaning the NHLPA doesn’t yet know exactly how much money there will be to split between its members – NHLPA staff and players discussed the concept of 50 per cent of the union’s share of profits being split between players in the World Cup, with the other 50 per cent being split by NHL players not in the event.

During a meeting with NHLPA divisional player representative Joe Reekie, some players on Team Russia said all World Cup profits should remain with players who are playing in the event, a source told TSN. Some players on Team Czech Republic suggested in a separate meeting that an 80/20 split (favoring players in the World Cup) should be considered, the source said.

Profits for the tournament have been pegged at around $65 million, split 50-50 between the league and the players’ association. So assuming those projections are correct, that’s around $32.5 million for the NHLPA to divvy up. Not a huge amount on a per-player basis, especially considering what the average player makes all by himself. But chances are, this is not going to be the only World Cup, so it could set a precedent for future events.

Gretzky returns to NHL fold as official ambassador of centennial celebration

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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The National Hockey League was founded on November 26, 1917. Almost ninety-nine years later, the commissioner of the league, Gary Bettman, was in Toronto to announce that Wayne Gretzky, arguably its greatest player ever, would be the official ambassador of its centennial celebration.

For Gretzky, whose relationship with the NHL was tested during the Phoenix Coyotes’ bankruptcy proceedings in 2009, it marks a return to representing the league in an official capacity. (In 2013, he was reportedly paid around $8 million in a settlement.)

“It’s a tremendous honor,” Gretzky said in a statement. “I’ve said this a million times that everything I have in my life is because of hockey and because of the National Hockey League. I happen to think it’s the greatest game in the world. It was kind to me my whole life. The game just gets better every year, so for me to be involved in just trying to help promote and sell our sport even more it’s a great thrill for me and an honor to be part of it.”

Watch the following video to see what the NHL has in store for 2017, starting on Jan. 1 with the Centennial Classic at BMO Field between the Maple Leafs and Red Wings: