NHL Week in Review (March 19-25)

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The North American sports world has grown from a nice distraction to a massive business that counts among the richest in the world.

They have grown to be big businesses but they are all at the same point right now, with little other room to grow in North America.

The sports environment is a packed one as there are four major professional leagues with numerous other professional leagues that are on somewhat of a second level.

There is little room for all of the sports but all of the major leagues are still doing pretty well.

Every league is entertaining the thought of taking their league to new markets in the USA with expansion talks surrounding all of the leagues.

That expansion could take these leagues to the point where there is no more room in North America and the major leagues all know this.

As they all compete for attention in the crowded market throughout the USA and Canada they are looking outward to find new fans.

The next frontier for all of these sports is Europe and Asia with every league trying to find a foothold in big cities that have a bit of a limit on the sports they watch.

Most other countries have rich sports environments but usually, concentrate on one or two major sports.

That gives the NBA, MLB, NFL and NHL a chance to come in and become a mainstay among the fans in those countries.

Every league knows this and every league is making their play for these parts of the world with some having a bit more of a commitment than others.

The NBA has been ahead of the game in this as they have already become a major sport in Asia with China being one of their biggest markets.

They still haven’t fully committed to that part of the world even with the attention that they get from that country.

The NFL is making their move in Great Britain as they now regularly visit London a few times a year and rumours continue to swirl around a team eventually moving there.

The MLB has even tried their hand at it opening seasons in other countries like Australia and Japan while also committing to the World Baseball Classic which just finished.

The NHL is one league that has yet to really commit to the international game as they have had times where they have gone overseas but it has been spotty.

This week the league announced that they will be bringing the International Series back and they will be trying out a new market that they have been trying to foster for the last few years.

They will hold two regular season games in Sweden as they look to the more traditional hockey markets for a boost from Europe.

It is something they have done before and that part of Europe already loves hockey so bringing NHL teams to them is going to be a success.

The more interesting of the games though will be a preseason game in China that is likely to feature the Vancouver Canucks and the Los Angeles Kings.hockey-sidebar

The Chinese market is one that every league is trying to be a part of as it is the biggest market out there.

No league has done an amazing job although the NBA has a head start among the big four in North America.

Every league has done their own things in trying to break into the market and the NHL is a part of that push to China.

They have already stated that they are very open to investment from China with a number of companies that have shown interest in buying a team.

That could make the ties between the two countries much closer and this game in China next year could be a way to showcase the sport.

Not only that, but the league is looking to help to grow the sport throughout China as it seems like they might be willing to attend the Olympics in 2022.

They won’t likely be a part of the 2018 Olympics in Korea but the motivation might return for the league to attend 2022 in Beijing.

If they can grow the sport to help in the Olympics they will have a chance at a massive showcase for the league.

It will give them that boost in the one country that every league is trying to be a part of for years.

The NHL is taking their steps towards being a factor in China and next year the preseason will be their biggest step towards that.

As they look towards the playoffs and the important Olympic decision the league is planning for the future and looking to take a step that not many other leagues have taken yet with the announcement of the International series.

(More on this week in hockey)

Crosby’s Slash
Sidney Crosby was the centre of controversy this week as week when he slashed the hand of Marc Methot, which forced Methot out with an injury to his finger and while Methot was out Crosby continued to play leaving many to wonder if he deserved a suspension  

Number Controversy Over
There has been a bit of a silly controversy over the last few weeks with Jonathan Ho-Sang deciding to wear #66 which to many was him comparing himself to the most famous #66, Mario Lemieux, but for Ho-Sang it was to honour him and this week Lemieux was happy to say that he liked the idea

Olympics Unlikely
Gary Bettman continues to put a damper on any hope of the NHL players attending the 2018 Olympics and this week he once again said that the league is very unlikely to allow their players to go leaving a very interesting decision for players to make


Key Scores:
Winnipeg Jets 5-4 Minnesota Wild
– A rivalry that has never really been worth a lot since the Jets came back is getting more important and the Jets got a very important win to stay in the hunt while the Wild took a loss avoiding a clinch

Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2 Boston Bruins
– Toronto was not supposed to be a playoff team this year but they are ahead of schedule and this game against the Bruins was an important one as they were able to beat the bruins and take over a top three spot in the division

New York Islanders 3-2 New York Rangers
– As both teams look to make their way to the playoffs this year they are fighting each other with both teams in the wild card right now every win is important and the Islanders were the ones that came out on top this time around

Boston Bruins 2-1 New York Islanders
– The Bruins fell out of the playoffs this week and they are trying to climb back which is what they did with this very important win against the Islanders that pushed them into the wild card while the Isles fell out

Next Week:
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (Monday, March 27th; 7:00 pm ET)
– The Blackhawks and the Lightning are fairly familiar with each other as two of the best teams over the last few years but this year the Blackhawks are headed to the playoffs while the Lightning need this win to stay in the fight for the playoffs

Washington Capitals vs. Minnesota Wild (Tuesday, March 28th; 8:00 pm ET)
– Both teams are near the top of their conferences and they will face off in a playoff type of matchup with the Caps already in the playoffs and looking to stay sharp while the Wild try to clinch their spot

Los Angeles Kings vs. Calgary Flames (Wednesday, March 29th; 9:00 pm ET)
– The Flames have cooled off since their big run but they are still in the playoffs as of right now and the Kings are still fighting for their chance to make it into the playoffs with this game being important for both teams as the season winds down.

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Detroit Red Wings (Saturday, April 1st; 7:00 pm ET)
– Toronto continues their pursuit of a playoff berth against the Red Wings who are already far away from another berth in the playoffs but hoping to spoil an old rivals high as the season comes to a close

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