News From Around the League

Besides notifications of what teams are going to the Playoffs, it has been a rather slow NHL news week. With there not being a specific big story that I could write a whole blog post about, I decided to do things a bit differently and just talk about some of the headlines in hockey this week.

NHL Going to China

As I spoke about last week, the NHL is attempting to grow the game by traveling around the world to play their games. Already announced was the two games next season to be played by the Colorado Avalanche and Ottawa Senators in Stockholm, Sweden. The latest announcement from the league is that they are heading to China. The games, which will be preseason games, will be played between the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks in Beijing and Shanghai on September 21 and 23. This latest announcement is made in the hopes of growing the grassroots hockey programs in the country of China. With the 2022 Winter Olympics taking place in Beijing, the urgency and desire for the NHL to create a “long lasting” relationship with the country is strange considering the NHL’s current stance on not allowing their players to compete in the Olympic games. It will be interesting to see how the relationship will change when the league announces their final verdict on the Olympics subject later this season.

Goalie Collapse

In one of the more frightening situations in hockey, Flyers goaltender Michal Neuvirth collapsed in his net in a game against the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night. Untouched and standing in his crease waiting for a faceoff to be taken, Neuvirth just collapsed out of nowhere. With other situations like it, with Dallas’ Rich Peverley collapsing on the bench due to a heart situation after a shift, the urgency and concern was evident quickly. Medical teams and personnel luckily were prepared and helped the goalie off the ice on a stretcher quickly. He was rushed to the hospital for testing, which all have come back normal. Luckily Neurirth has been released and is said to be resting at home, but with more and more of these incidents happening in the league, it begs the question, should training camp testing go further in depth. With Peverley, he had a known preexisting heart condition that was diagnosed on his previous team, if he had been checked further in preseason and maybe even periodically during the season, would they have caught the issue before such extreme measures had to be taken to save his life?

Playoffs

With playoffs around the corner, I am really excited to see how they play out. With so many new faces in the picture, it should be really interesting to watch how different teams play against each other. Of course, i am rooting wholeheartedly for the Pittsburgh Penguins, but I am excited to how young teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers fare against the veteran teams like the Blackhawks and Bruins.

NHL Heading Back to Europe

As announced by the NHL, the league is heading back to Europe. As part of the 2017 SAP NHL Global Series, the league will host two regular season games in Stockholm, Sweden next season. The Colorado Avalanche and Ottawa Senators will take the trip across the pond and face off against each other twice on Swedish soil.

With so many Swedish players making their way over to the NHL in recent years, this seems like the perfect idea to grow the game and thank the country producing so much promising talent. Unlike in past seasons, the games will take place during the regular season, not preseason. This will be a testament to the players and league considering the travel and changes to hockey operations that will be involved.

This isn’t the first time the league has traveled to other countries and continents to play games. In 2011 the NHL played games in Germany, Finland, and Sweden. By playing NHL games overseas, the league is able to reach loyal fans that live too far to see a game in person as well as gain some new fans in the process.

Along with the benefit for international fans, the trip has proven to be positive for the teams. With teams like the Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks participating in the events in past years, they have gone on to have impressive seasons after starting in another country. Traveling to another country brings a team together. In the beginning of a season when there are new faces in a locker room, bonding and chemistry to vital to a teams success. Being away from home and in a country that isn’t yours and may not speak your language forces a team to rely and count on each other. I believe this is why so many teams were successful following their trips.

With the Avalanche falling out of the elite standings and down to the bottom of the leader-board, this trip and experience is just what they need. A time to regroup, reassess, and bond as a team in order to garner some success in the 2017-18 season. It will be interesting of course to see how the two teams cope with the games being during the regular season and not the pre-season. Hopefully it won’t fatigue them too much.