NHL Week in Review (December 3-9)

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This week the NHL was not necessarily the biggest story in hockey but they certainly have had a big role in the results of the news.

The International Olympic Committee made a massive decision this week when the announced that the Russians would be banned from competing in Pyeongchang.

That decision came after years of investigation into one of the largest doping programs in the world.

It was revealed through whistleblowers that the Russian Olympic Committee had been sponsoring a doping program throughout the Olympic Games.

The main accusations came out of the Sochi Olympics where the Russians were reportedly sponsoring this program to help them achieve plenty as the hosts.

When the news was revealed the program began to fall apart and it was revealed that almost the entire Russian Olympic team had been doping for years.

It was one of the largest state-run doping programs ever revealed and the IOC had a very interesting decision to make.

The breadth of the scandal didn’t come in time for the Rio Olympics but the IOC did ban the Russian Paralympic team from competing.

Heading into a new year where the Winter Olympics will be one of the biggest events of the year and the IOC needed to make an example out of the Russian Federation.

This week they decided that Russia would not be allowed to compete in the Winter Games in Pyeongchang.

There would be no Russian flag and the Russian anthem will not play at any point in time during the games.

Russian athletes would be able to compete under the Olympic flag as “Olympic Athletes from Russia.”

Those athletes will need to pass strict testing in order to participate and if they win a gold medal the Russian anthem will not play.

That decision rocked the Olympic Games but it could also have a massive effect on the premier event of the games.

The Olympic hockey tournament has been one of the most important part of every Winter Games as an ultimate prize in hockey.

The Olympic Gold Medal is a part of the Triple Gold accomplishment that has put plenty of NHL players in the Hall of Fame.

Hockey players dream of winning a Stanley Cup but followed closely behind is winning a Gold medal for their country.

That has taken a very big hit for the 2018 games as decisions made by big organisations are taking more people out of the tournament and creating much more unpredictability.

First came the NHL’s decision to not take time off during the games and not allowing their players to participate.

It took the best players in the world out of the tournament and created some intrigue for the tournament.

How were the best teams in the world going to compete without the best players in the world?

Just as that debate was heating up and selection rosters were being created the IOC made this decision and brought more uncertainty to the tournament.

That uncertainty came for a number of reasons as now the tournament is without one of its biggest teams, the Russians.

A group of hockey players could band together and compete under the Olympic flag but they will have no support from a sports federation and that is going to be very tough.

Without that team, the tournament is much more wide open than it was only a week ago.

The bigger wrench though is the threat that the Kontinental Hockey League launched weeks before the decision came down.hockey-sidebar

The KHL, the largest professional league outside of the NHL and a league based in Russia, claimed that they would boycott the Olympics if Russia was banned from the Olympics.

No decision has been announced as of yet but the KHL claimed that they were not going to allow their players to play in the Olympics.

That would be a big blow to every other major team as countries like Canada and the USA are looking to the KHL to find the majority of their players.

All of Team Canada is in the NHL and without them, they were going to look to the KHL for a sort of B team to bring to the Olympics.

Without that option, they will need to look throughout the rest of Europe in smaller leagues to find their team.

They won’t be the only one to do that and for other teams that aren’t considered the powerhouse are getting closer to a real chance.

Teams like Canada and USA are not going to have their best players and Russia might not even be in the tournament at all.

One of the biggest hockey tournaments out there is turning into the most interesting and it is all thanks to decisions made by the NHL, IOC and KHL.

For some, it will reduce the love of the tournament because it is no longer best against best but for others, it could make everything more interesting with no predictable outcomes.

 

Overtime

Northwest Expansion

Another big development was announced this week when the City of Seattle announced a new plan to renovate the KeyArena. That arena was the former home of the Seattle SuperSonics of the NBA and the renovation started plenty of rumours both in the NBA and NHL. The rumours in the NHL became more of a reality later in the week when the NHL allowed the city to submit a proposal for a new franchise putting them right on the top of the list for the next NHL franchise.

The Value of a Team

Every year Forbes come out with the ultimate rankings of how valuable every team is in the major professional sports. In hockey that was always the Toronto Maple Leafs who were the first team to be worth over $1 billion in the NHL. Since that time they have been surpassed though as they fell due to poor performance while Montreal and New York moved up. This year’s rankings show that the Leafs are finding their way back but the Rangers are still the most valuable team worth $1.2 billion while Toronto sits right behind at $1.18 billion.

Technology Testing

There is no league that is more advanced in terms of new stats than the MLB who were into advanced stats years before other leagues. The NHL is trying to catch up with a whole new level of advanced stats now governing the movement of players. They are looking to step things up too and this All-Star game their newest attempt will be on display. The game will feature a new tracking system that will record real-time statistics for players on the ice in what the NHL hopes to be something that is used throughout the league in every game.

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