Like the best of the best hockey players don’t get paid enough by their NHL clubs, Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland also wants a private jet to get them home to North America.
What if, Holland posits, a player is in the gold-medal game on Sunday and has to be back in North America for a game on Tuesday night?
“We need a private plane that takes players back from Europe,” he said.
Normally, you wouldn’t find an untoward word about Holland out of these fingers but c’mon, this has to be an issue with respect to NHL involvement in the Olympics?
If that’s an important issue, why not have the teams pony up?
And another point from Holland?
“We had guys have to wait in line with 3,000 people for their credentials.”
The International Ice Hockey Federation wants NHL players there. The NHL players want to be there … who the hell wouldn’t want to wear his national-team jersey and play for Olympic gold?
The typical issues of contention were bandied about this morning at the Vancouver 2010 Evaluation session at the Molson Canadian World Hockey Summit (WHS) … Two-week break in the Olympic schedule? Bad. Injuries to players? Bad. Tired players leading into playoffs? Bad.
While we all waited with baited breath for NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman to descend upon us in the afternoon, Igor Kuperman, hockey historian and instrumental in the launch of the KHL, says tough shit.
No … he didn’t really say ‘tough shit.’ That’s just me paraphrasing.
He did, however, say the issues aren’t as serious as the NHL is making them out to be.
“A break in the schedule is no big deal,” Kuperman said. “Your fans have already bought tickets. They are going to come back after the Olympics. You get breaks to refresh your players who aren’t going to the Olympics and their injuries can heal.”
He reminded the WHS delegates that three of those ‘dead-tired’ players returning from the Olympics returned to do all right for their respective NHL teams … Jonathan Toews, Stanley Cup winner and Conn Smythe Trophy winner as playoff MVP; Patrick Kane, Stanley Cup winner and scored Cup-winning goal in overtime; and Henrik Sedin, winner of the Hart Trophy as league MVP.
But Holland reminded us of Steve Yzerman missing the remainder of the Red Wings season after playing through a knee injury at the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002. While he returned and won the Stanley Cup, other teams might not have been so fortunate with such a devastating injury to a key player and team captain.
He also, however, remembered Tomas Holmstrom missing this year’s Olympics but was able to rest and did not miss a regular-season game.
Rene Fasel, president of the IIHF, doesn’t see the injuries as an issue either.
“Losing Yzerman to your team, this is life and it’s how it is,” Fasel said. “Injuries happen.”
Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson and New Jersey Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner agreed the players want to be in Sochi for 2014, despite any inferences from the league that they won’t be there.
Fasel, in a post-panel scrum, tossed it up to a breakdown in communication between him and Gary Bettman.
“I was never invited to speak with the Board of Governors so I can understand the issues,” Fasel said. “The logistics are easy to solve. We organize 32 tournaments every year …
“It’s not a control thing. It’s a partnership.”
Sounds like the NHL and the IIHF are in need of a marriage counsellor more than anything.
“It is like a marriage,” Fasel agreed. “We have been married for 16 years. Like in a marriage, we both have to bring something to the table that works.”
Fasel said he and Bettman will get together for dinner at the end of September. The wives will be there. It will be a happy time, we’re sure.