LOS ANGELES — It’s looking increasingly unlikely that the NHL will participate in the 2018 Olympic in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Commissioner Gary Bettman said that the topic was discussed for “about 10 seconds” at Saturday’s Board of Governors meeting, and deputy commissioner Bill Daly told reporters that “As of right now, there’s not a will.” The NHL has sent its players to every Olympics since the 1998 games in Nagano, Japan.
Even though the International Ice Hockey Federation has figured out a way to pay the NHL’s costs (which the league cited as its initial concern), the owners still are reluctant to put their season on hold for two weeks again, especially given the 14-hour time difference between the East Coast and South Korea. But the players still want to play.
“As a proud American, you want to play for your country any chance you get,” Patrick Kane said. “I think a lot of us players would be ecstatic if they said we were going to the Olympics. But at the same time, you understand the owners’ side of things, too, you know? You’re taking time away for two weeks of the season [and] you’re paying a lot of money to guys who could end up going and getting hurt. You understand both sides of it.”
Skills on display
The highlight of the skills competition Saturday night was Arizona goaltender Mike Smith scoring from the goal line into a “Shoot The Puck”-style opening in the far net. But the Blackhawks acquitted themselves well in limited action. Kane took eight shots to knock out the four targets in the accuracy event (Sidney Crosby edged out Auston Matthews to win). And in the skills relay, Duncan Keith scored on his one-timer on the first attempt, Jonathan Toews nailed four saucer passes on six attempts, and Kane had a clean stick-handling run.
Edmonton’s Connor McDavid won the fastest skater event, and Montreal’s Shea Weber successfully defended his title in the hardest-shot competition, with a blast of 102.8 mph
He’s a Belieber
Kane was the only active player to participate in the celebrity game before the skills competition. Also playing? Pop star Justin Bieber, who even got smeared along the glass in the crease by Chris Pronger and scored an empty-net goal in the final minute.
Kane admitted before the game that, yes, he’s a Bieber fan.
“He’s got a lot of good songs,” Kane said. “I don’t know if I could say that around the locker room, but I’m a big fan.”
With Columbus’ John Tortorella attending to a family matter, Wayne Gretzky will take his place as the Metropolitan Division coach during Sunday’s All-Star 3-on-3 tournament.