Mike Halford

You've heard the expression "let's get busy?" Well, Mike Halford is a blogger who gets "biz-zay!" Consistently and thoroughly.
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After getting back into Olympics, German players irate about not going

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Last September, Pittsburgh forward Tom Kuhnhackl scored the decisive goal in Germany’s 3-2 win over Lativa in Olympic qualifying, giving the Germans the final spot in Pyeongchang.

Washington’s Philipp Grubauer stopped 26 of 28 shots to secure the victory.

For the Germans, this was a pretty big deal. The program had fallen on hard times. A disappointing 11th place finish in Vancouver was followed by a significant blow four years later, when they failed to qualify for Sochi.

It was the first time Germany didn’t make the Winter Olympics since NHLers began participating in ’98.

So, as you’d expect, getting back in was a major accomplishment. And that’s why Kuhnackl and Grubauer were upset in the aftermath of the NHL’s decision not to go to South Korea.

“Obviously it’s really frustrating,” Kuhnhackl said, per the Tribune-Review. “Especially for a country like Germany, it’s not an everyday thing where we get to go to the Olympics.

“I think for players, going to the Olympics is a privilege. It’s an awesome thing, especially for Germany. Obviously it would’ve been nice to go there. It’s just really frustrating.”

Kuhnhackl added he “for sure” would consider leaving the Penguins to represent Germany, but clarified it would be “if Pittsburgh lets me go.”

As for Grubauer, here’s what he told The Athletic’s James Mirtle:

The current German squad has a large NHL makeup.

In addition to Kuhnhackl and Grubauer, those that helped the club qualify include Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl, Arizona’s Tobias Rieder, Anaheim’s Korbinian Holzer and New York’s Dennis Seidenberg.

Former NHLers Marcel Goc and Christian Ehrhoff also played, and the club is coached by Marco Sturm.

Related:

Ovechkin thinks the NHL’s bluffing about Olympics

Crosby disappointed about league’s decision not to go

Crosby disappointed in NHL’s Olympic decision

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The scorer of Canada’s golden goal won’t be headed back to the Olympics next year.

Needless to say, he’s not happy about it.

“It’s disappointing,” Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said on Tuesday, per Upgruv. “I think when you hear about the negotiations and things like that, I really thought something was going to be able to get worked out.

“Unfortunately, that’s not the case.”

It’s not surprising to learn of Crosby’s disappointment. He’s carved out a terrific international hockey resume and, given he turns 30 this summer, might not have many opportunities left to represent Canada. It’s a role he clearly cherishes. He’s captured two Olympic gold medals for his country — famously scoring the OT winner against the U.S. in 2010 in Vancouver, then captaining the Canadians to victory at the ’14 Games in Sochi.

Crosby was asked if he’d still consider going to the Olympics next year.

“I haven’t even really thought that far, to be honest,” he explained. “It’s a difficult situation to be in, no doubt, and I know some guys have been vocal about going regardless, but I’m not sure if I’m going to take it quite that far yet.”

Crosby isn’t the only player to voice his displeasure about the NHL’s decision not to participate in South Korea. San Jose’s Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist were two of the more prominent names to express displeasure on Twitter, while a number of other players told reporters they were also disappointed.

Related: NHLPA ‘extraordinarily disappointed’ with Olympic decision

 

 

NBC Sports issues statement on NHL’s Olympic decision

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Shortly after the NHL announced it wouldn’t be participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, an NBC Sports spokesperson released the following statement:

“The Olympics have long been the world’s greatest international hockey tournament irrespective of whether professionals or amateurs are playing.

“Although we’re disappointed that NHL players will not get the chance to experience and compete at the 2018 Winter Olympics next February, we’re confident that hockey fans and Olympic viewers will tune in to watch the unique style of play that occurs at the Olympic Winter Games when athletes are competing for their country.”

This will mark the first time in 24 years — dating back to the ’94 Games in Lillehammer, Norway — that the NHL will not be sending its players to the Winter Olympics.

NBC’s Olympic coverage begins Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. It will mark the first time ever that NBC will broadcast all of its programming live across all time zones.

Related: 

— Bettman points finger at IOC for opening a ‘whole can of worms’

— Ovechkin vows to play in Olympics even if NHL doesn’t participate

Prout suspended two games for ‘exacting retribution’ on Gudas

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New Jersey defenseman Dalton Prout has been suspended two games for a retaliatory hit on Philly’s Radko Gudas, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced on Monday.

The incident occurred midway through the second period of Saturday’s game, shortly after Gudas delivered a hard — but deemed legal — bodycheck on New Jersey forward John Quenneville.

Prout jumped onto the ice and went directly at Gudas. He was given a five-minute major and game misconduct for interference.

“Prout comes off the bench, makes no attempt to join the play in any manner, and instead targets a vulnerable player for the sole purpose of exacting retribution for an earlier play,” the DoPS explained. “And while the hit itself is not incredibly violent, the fact that Gudas is in no way prepared for a hit of any kind makes any type of body contact dangerous.”

As a result, Prout will now miss New Jersey’s next two games — including Tuesday’s rematch versus the Flyers — and will be eligible to return on Saturday, Apr. 8, when the Devils take on the Isles.

 

After 12-game absence, Lehtera ready to return from concussion

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Blues forward Jori Lehtera, who’s missed nearly a month with a concussion, declared himself healthy and able to return to the lineup ahead of tomorrow’s game against the Jets.

But when will he draw back in?

Lehtera has missed 12 games in a row and, during that spell, St. Louis has played extremely well, going 9-1-2 to move into third spot in the Central Division. That includes Sunday’s 4-1 victory over the Preds — the team chasing St. Louis in the Central — and it’s reasonable to suggest head coach Mike Yeo won’t tinker much with a winning lineup.

Lehtera had a difficult year prior to getting hurt, scoring just six goals and 19 points through 61 games. Concussion issues derailed the start of his campaign and, in December, former head coach Ken Hitchcock made the 29-year-old a healthy scratch, saying the Blues needed more from him.

With Lehtera, Paul Stastny and Robby Fabbri out, Yeo has been forced to integrate some of the organization’s younger forwards into the NHL mix, and the kids have responded. Ivan Barbashev has played well, as has Zach Sanford, one of the assets acquired in the Kevin Shattenkirk-to-Washington trade.