Mike Halford

You've heard the expression "let's get busy?" Well, Mike Halford is a blogger who gets "biz-zay!" Consistently and thoroughly.

McDavid disappointed at NHL decision to skip Olympics

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TORONTO (AP) Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid said he’s disappointed the NHL won’t be sending players to the Winter Olympic in South Korea.

“It would have been a special group, and you’re just hopeful to be a part of it,” McDavid told reporters at a charity event Wednesday. “It’s disappointing, but that’s the way it is. You want to be able to represent your country on the highest stage, and the Olympics is obviously the highest stage possible.”

McDavid’s comments came a day after Hockey Canada announced it was looking for non-NHL talent for Canada’s roster in Pyeongchang.

Sean Burke, the team’s GM, said Tuesday the bulk of Canada’s team will come from players based in Europe.

The NHL’s reasons not to participate in the upcoming Games include disagreements over costs as well as problems accommodating the Games during its regular season.

When asked whether there was the possibility of getting permission from the Oilers to attend the Olympics, McDavid was non-committal.

“I’m not too involved in all that stuff,” he said.

The NHL Players Association has said the league’s decision is “short-sighted.”

The NHL allowed its players to compete in every Olympics since 1998 Nagano Games, and Canada was won three of the last four gold medals.

Markov, Habs officially part ways

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Andrei Markov‘s run of 17 consecutive seasons in Montreal is over.

On Thursday, the Habs announced that Markov — who’s played all 990 of his career NHL contests with the Canadiens — wouldn’t be brought back for the 2017-18 campaign.

The news comes after months of rumblings about Markov’s contractual status. It was initially believed the 38-year-old UFA was looking for $12 million over two years, and there was a brief flirtation with the Flyers (which, it later turned out, was simply Markov’s interest in going to Philly, not the Flyers actively pursuing him).

Montreal GM Marc Bergevin stated on several occasions he wanted to bring Markov back, but only at the right price and term. That’s because Bergevin knew Markov still played an important role — despite appearing in just 62 games last year, the Russian rearguard was offensively productive, with six goals and 36 points, and averaged nearly 22 minutes per night.

That said, Bergevin also knew the financial realities. He dished out big bucks this offseason — a combined $154.8 million for Carey Price, Jonathan Drouin, Alex Galchenyuk and Karl Alzner — and just didn’t have the money left to give Markov a big ticket.

Instead, Bergevin played it conservative in rounding out his defense, which included Tuesday’s one-year, $700,000 deal for Mark Streit. Some saw that deal as the writing on the wall for Markov in Montreal.

Looking ahead, it’ll be interesting to see where Markov ends up. If he lowers his asking price, there’s no doubt an NHL team would be interested. If he doesn’t, he could angle for a KHL deal and the opportunity to represent Russia in the upcoming Winter Olympics.

Devils talked recently with Kerfoot, but know ‘he controls the outcome’

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In less than a month, New Jersey’s draft rights to Alex Kerfoot will expire, meaning the Harvard senior will become an unrestricted free agent, able to sign with an NHL club of his choosing.

GM Ray Shero remains hopeful the Devils will be that club.

“I talked to him a few days ago for a while,” Shero said this week, per NorthJersey.com. “I think after the dust settled for free agency for a lot of teams, including ours, I think it was good to reconnect with him.

“Me, John Hynes and Fitzie [assistant GM Tom Fitzgerald] had a conference call with him, and I explained to him again exactly where we were. I think it was a good reminder that we’d really like to sign him, but like anybody else, he controls the outcome until Aug. 15.”

Kerfoot, 22, was drafted by the Devils in the fifth round of the 2012 draft. His game has evolved over the last four years and, in ’16-17, he led Harvard in scoring en route to a Hobey Baker nomination.

Kerfoot’s a Vancouver native, and there’s widespread speculation the Canucks would be interested in securing his services. What’s more, Kerfoot’s father, Greg, is part of the ownership group of Vancouver’s Major League Soccer franchise, the Whitecaps.

“It’s exciting, I grew up a Canucks fan and I still follow them,” Kerfoot said in March, per News 1130. “But at this time I’m just focused on Harvard and my plan is to meet with the Devils after the season.”

At this point, it’s certainly looks like he’s headed to free agency. But Shero was quick to point out “the Kerfoot thing has not been written yet,” adding he was hopeful the player and agent would get back to the Devils soon.

Nichushkin to stay in KHL, Dallas expects him back for ’18-19

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Valeri Nichushkin will spend another year with CSKA Moscow.

On Wednesday, Dallas announced that Nichushkin — who left the team last season to play in the KHL — will stay in Russia for the 2017-18 campaign, with the expectation he’ll return to the Stars the following season.

The news doesn’t come as a huge surprise. Both the KHL and Russian hockey federation have been vocal with their stated goal of keeping KHL players from leaving for North America and bringing NHL free agents back this summer, to prepare for and participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Nichushkin, a big-bodied center that scored 14 goals and 34 points for Dallas in his rookie year, figures to be part of that plan.

CSKA is a KHL powerhouse, and has made several significant moves this offseason. Most recently, the club signed former Habs d-man Nikita Nesterov and ex-Avs forward Mikhail Grigorenko. The club also re-upped with Ilya Kovalchuk — who was flirting with a return to North America — and said that prized Minnesota prospect Kirill Kaprizov would remain with the team for the next three years.

CSKA also reportedly has an agreement in place with Colorado d-man Nikita Zadorov, should he fail to re-sign with the Avs.

All that said, it’s somewhat intriguing that Dallas’ coaching change from Lindy Ruff to Ken Hitchcock didn’t sway Nichushkin. The 22-year-old, taken 10th overall in 2013, clashed with Ruff on a few occasions. In March of last year, Nichushkin had to address an interview with a Russian news outlet in which he said Ruff didn’t trust him, or play him enough.

Not long after Hitchcock was introduced as Dallas’ new head coach, the club’s director of scouting told NHL.com it was “50-50” that Nichushkin would be back this season.

Related: Stars GM hopes a ‘more mature’ Nichushkin will return to Dallas after KHL stint

Isles keep Cronin, promote him to associate coach

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After a summer of change behind the bench, the Islanders opted for some familiarity on Wednesday.

Greg Cronin, the veteran assistant coach that served under both Jack Capuano and Doug Weight last season, has been brought back and promoted to associate coach.

“Greg’s hockey knowledge and experiences of over 30 years in the coaching profession are an asset to our coaching staff,” Weight said in a release. “He’s run our penalty-kill the past several seasons and each year, it’s been one of the best in the league.

“He has a tireless work ethic on the bench during games, at practice and in meetings. His desire to get the best out of every player, to help achieve our goal of winning is impressive and I’m thrilled to continue to work with him.”

Cronin, 54, is in his second tour of duty with New York, having previously served as an assistant from 1999-2003. During that spell, he worked under former bench bosses Butch Goring, Lorne Henning (interim) and Peter Laviolette. Following the ’02-03 campaign, Cronin took the head coaching gig for the Isles’ AHL affiliate in Bridgeport.

As mentioned above, there have been numerous changes to Weight’s staff this offseason. Kelly Buchberger, Luke Richardson and Scott Gomez were all hired as assistants, while the club parted ways with Bob Corkum.