BTLHP Thoughts: NHL Pulling Out Of The Olympics?, Bergevin Firing

2022 Winter Olympics Sign Photo Courtesy of NBC San Diego

NHL and the Olympics 

The NHL and NHLPA will have to decide soon if the players are going to the Olympics in Bejing. From the looks of what’s been coming out recently, they will likely be pulling out of the Olympics due to the risk involved with it. If a player were to get a positive COVID test in China, they would have to Quarantine for three weeks. That alone makes it a considerable risk to the players and the league as a whole. Many NHL executives and some NHL players do not want to go to the Olympics due to the involved risk, and executives don’t want to go on break, seeing as ticket sales are just getting back up to what they should be. Players are terrified of having to quarantine for three weeks if they test positive. It won’t surprise me if the NHL pulls out of the Olympics as early as the end of this week, especially after having Senators and Islanders have games postponed due to COVID outbreaks already this season. They likely won’t be the last. 

Sabres Looking For A Goalie?

The Buffalo Sabres have been reported to be in the hunt for a goalie. They currently have a tandem of Aaron Dell and Dustin Tokarski and want to improve from that and attempt to make the playoffs after having a solid start to the 2021-22 season. There are many options for them to look at to fill that starter role; the one I wonder about is Georgiev from the Rangers. He’s been in many rumors this season and would give Buffalo a good starting goalie in front of one of Aaron Dell, Craig Anderson, Dustin Tokarski, or Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen. 

Travis Green’s Future 

The Vancouver Canucks have not had a great start to the 2021-22 season, putting Head Coach Travis Green on the hot seat. The Canucks are reportedly in the process of firing Travis Green, Former Bruins, and Canadiens Head Coach Claude Julien and Scott Walker were both in consideration to take this position. Still, they were both deemed unfit, there is no current timeline for the Canucks, and they aren’t in a rush to make a permanent decision until they feel they have the correct person. Julien was recently named the Head Coach for Team Canada in the Spangler Cup. This will be his first time coaching since being fired by the Montreal Canadiens on February 24th, 2021, and he was replaced by now Canadiens Head Coach Dominic Ducharme. 

Marc Bergevin’s and Trevor Timmins Fired and Scott Mellanby resignation

Marc Bergevin was fired as the General Manager of the Montreal Canadiens on November 28th. This comes after a lack-luser start to the Canadiens season. The Canadiens have fallen from grace after going to the 2021 Stanley Cup Final and losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning. The issues started after losing big names such as Philip Daunult and Shea Weber and having star goalie Carey Price in the NHL Player Assistance Program to start the season. The Canadiens also fired assistant General Manager Trevor Timmins as part of the organizational shakeup. The Montreal Canadiens Assistant General Manager Scott Mellanby resigned on November 27th after being told he was out of the running for General Manager and a Hockey Operations position. He had been in talks with Canadiens owner Geoff Molson about.  This is the start of the Canadiens wanting to go in a new direction with the franchise. 

Jeff Gorton and the Montreal Canadiens 

The Canadiens have talked to former New York Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton, and the conversation was about Gorton getting a substantial Hockey Operations position. Gorton was hired by the Canadiens as the Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations role on November 28th after the Canadiens announced the firings of Bergevin and Timmins. This is the start of the Montreal Canadiens going in a new direction with the club. Gorton helped the New York Rangers through a rebuild and did a pretty good job with very few changes being made after being fired by the organization. 

Marc Bergevin’s Potential Replacements

Possible Bergevin Replacements 

With Marc Bergevin being fired by the Montreal Canadiens leaves a massive question needing to be filled, which is “Who will be the GM that leads this team into the future?”. The names I’ve heard get thrown around are guys like Martin Brodeur, Patrick Roy, Roberto Luongo, and Jocelyn Thibault, who were all goalies during their playing careers. The New Jersey Devils currently employ Brodeur as Executive Vice President, Advisor, Hockey Operations. Jeff Marek reported on 32 thoughts on November 27th that the Canadiens had not reached out to Roy’s Camp at that point. Luongo is getting his first stent as a General Manager with Team Canada during the 2022 Olympics. 

John Klingberg Trade?

The Carolina Hurricanes have called the Dallas Stars wondering the availability of defensemen John Klingberg, and they were told Klingberg isn’t currently available. This hasn’t stopped other teams from inquiring about the 29-year-old, who is in the final year of his current contract and can become a UFA at the end of the season. The Stars currently don’t want to move Klingberg because they want to push for the cup and deem Klingberg a significant part of their defensive core. 

Evander Kane Return and Potential Trade

Kane has been reported skating alone and has been doing so for a few weeks now, with no comments from the Sharks organization about his status as of late. With his suspension ending, the Sharks now have to decide what course of action they take with him. Do they send him to the American Hockey League for a few games? Do they keep him up in the NHL and have him play games with the team? Do they keep him out until they feel he’s ready for play? Those will all be questions answered in due time. The Sharks have made it known that they are willing to retain salary if a team was ready to trade for him, but Kane also has a three-team trade list, so that complicates things a bit more. On November 28th, the San Jose Sharks placed Evander Kane on waivers, which he cleared. It has been reported that the Sharks are working on a trade involving Kane, one of the teams reportedly interested in the Vancouver Canucks. It was also reported that a team in the Eastern Conference is willing to take Kane as well. The Sharks are willing to retain 50% of Kane’s salary to help facilitate a trade. 

Fleury’s Future with the Blackhawks 

Marc-Andre Fleury hasn’t had the best start to the 2021-22 season after getting traded to the Blackhawks in the offseason. He has looked a little better since the Blackhawks fired former Head Coach Jeremy Coalition. I don’t think Fleury will be moved from Chicago anytime soon, especially with a new General Manager in town. He likely won’t make any big moves until he figures out what the roster needs and what he can get in return for said player. If Fleury were on the trading block, the Blackhawks likely wouldn’t have a hard time finding interest in the 2021 Vezina Trophy winner. The more significant issue arises with finding a team who can afford him to carry a cap hit of seven million throughout the 2021-22 season and become a UFA at the end of the season. 

Oilers Defense and Goaltending

The Edmonton Oilers have had an excellent start to the 2021-22 season, with a record of 15-5-0 through their first 20 games. They are currently down two of their top defensemen, with Darnell Nurse having a broken finger and Duncan Kieth being out an Upper-Body Injury. This has forced the Oilers to inject some younger talent into their roster, with Philip Broberg and William Lagesson both getting time. The Oilers have been connected to Canadiens defensemen Ben Chiarot. The Oilers are also without their planned starter in Mike Smith, who suffered a Lower-Body Injury in a game versus the Anaheim Ducks, this has forced Mikko Koskinen into the starter role and Stuart Skinner into the backup role, with the uncertainty of Smith returning the Oilers, may need to add a goalie soon, with possible options including Marc-Andre Fleury, Tuukka Rask, Anton Khudobin and Alexander Georgiev being top options for the OIlers to select from. 

Alexander Ovechkin ties for 6th in All-Time NHL Hattricks 

After scoring a hattrick in the Capitals, 4-3 win versus the Florida Panthers on November 26th, Ovechkin ties Marcel Dionne and Bobby Hull for 6th on the NHL all-time hattricks list. Ovechkin needs four hattricks to tie Phil Esposito for 5th all-time. This hattrick puts Ovechkin 18 goals away from tying Jaromir Jagr for 3rd in all-time NHL goals.

Islanders Games Postponed 

The New York Islanders have postponed two games due to a COVID outbreak within the club and will need three straight days of all negative tests to reopen their facilities. The games postponed are November 28th against the New York Rangers and November 30th against the Philadelphia Flyers. The games were postponed after Casey Cizkas and three islander staff members entered COVID protocols and another group of Islanders players. 

Brendon Lemieux biting Incident

Los Angeles Kings Forward Brendan Lemieux has been offered an in-person meeting via zoom with the NHL Department Of Player Safety for biting Ottawa Senators Forward Brady Tkachuk on November 27th. This meeting gives the NHL Department Of Player Safety the option to suspend Lemieux six or more games. Brady Tkachuk was interviewed after the game and stated, “It’s outrageous. Kids don’t even do that anymore. Babies do that. I don’t even know what he was thinking, and he’s just a complete brick head. He’s got nothing up there. Bad Guy, bad player, but what a joke he is,” 

Fenway Sports Group And The Pittsburgh Penguins

The Fenway Sports Group has agreed to acquire the controlling stake of the Pittsburgh Penguins. This deal is subject to approval from the NHL Broad Of Governors; it is expected to close before the end of the year. Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle will remain a part of the organization as owners with a minority stake; Lemieux will continue his role in Hockey Operations with the club. If FSG were to move the Penguins, they would have to wait five years because the NHL has a rule stating that new ownership cannot move the club for five years after purchase. The Penguins also still have a 22-year lease with the City Of Pittsburgh.

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