The meeting hockey people were waiting for finally took place Friday in midtown Manhattan.
Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, and Rene Fasel, president of the International Ice Hockey Federation, met with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHL Players Association head Donald Fehr in the hopes of getting the league to participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.
No decisions came out of the 90-minute meeting, but all signs point to a willingness to make a deal. The NHL has been a participant in the past five Olympiads.
It’s no secret the NHL wants to get a foothold in China. It wants to play preseason games in September with the Los Angeles Kings and the Vancouver Canucks. It also wants to participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
For that to happen, the league will need to cut two deals. One is with the players association to allow the preseason games in China to move forward. Second, it probably will have to accept participation in South Korea a year from now to be part of the Beijing Games.
The fact Fasel has come up with the funding and that Bach agreed to meet with Bettman helps. But the NHL wants to grow the sport in the world’s most populous country where marketing and revenue opportunities could be huge.
One other thing. NBC, which is televising the Olympics, paid the NHL a lot of money to be its TV network in the U.S. You know NBC wants the best hockey players in the Olympic hockey tournament. So does the IOC.
“Of course we would like to see the best players in the world at the Olympic Games,” Bach said. “This is why I made this visit, to make this very clear to everybody that we want to have an exciting Olympic tournament with the great NHL players. We’re very happy that the players themselves see it the same way.”
COYOTES’ DEAL FALLS THROUGH
Arizona State announced Friday that it was pulling out of a joint venture with the Arizona Coyotes on a new arena in Tempe that would have secured the team’s future in the state.
The proposed development was set to include a new 16,000-seat arena for the Coyotes and a 4,000-seat venue for Arizona State’s hockey team, which moved to NCAA Division I last season.
“In November 2016, Catellus Development Corporation, the Master Developer for the Arizona State University Athletics Facilities District, entered into an exclusive negotiating agreement with the Arizona Coyotes holding company, IceArizona Holdings, to produce a development plan for approximately 58 acres in the district that would include a new arena and commercial development project,” the school said in a statement Friday. “ASU has no intention of proceeding to sign a development agreement or an option to lease or any other agreement with the Coyotes.”
The school gave no reason for its decision, but the Arizona Republic reported that there was mounting opposition in the state legislature for public funding for the project.
Coyotes co-owner and CEO Anthony LeBlanc said in a statement: “While a new Coyotes arena built with ASU would have been a big winner for our fans, taxpayers, the university and our team, the Coyotes had and continue to have a number of options for a new arena.”
The NHL’s new rules on goaltenders’ equipment went into effect Saturday with a slimmer pants edict. The streamlined pants are rounded at the leg and have a thigh pad reduced in size from 10 inches to 9.
“It’s not a big deal,” Washington’s Braden Holtby said at last week’s All-Star Game. “I’ve been breaking mine in in practice.”
Arizona’s Mike Smith said the league should have waited until next season.
“It’s crazy to have an equipment change in midseason,” he said last week. “It’s nuts that it can’t wait until the beginning of next season.”
Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Miller of the Los Angeles Kings didn’t look good when he was the master of ceremonies at an NHL-sponsored event at the All-Star Game. He was taken to the hospital the next day, and the 78-year-old who had open heart surgery a year ago had suffered a minor stroke.
The Los Angeles Daily News said Miller wasn’t sure if he would return to the broadcast booth. He is expected to meet with team officials in the next couple of weeks to decide his future.
“A lot has happened in the last 12 months, and you just are concerned about getting on a plane and having something happen at 35,000 feet,” Miller said. “We will take it day by day and see what’s going on.”
Steve Carp’s weekly NHL notebook appears Sundays. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2913. Follow @stevecarprj on Twitter.
WEEK’S THREE STARS
1. Peter Budaj, Los Angeles. Kings goalie has three shutouts in past four games, including 1-0 win Saturday over Flyers.
2. Phil Kessel, Pittsburgh. Had winning goal Friday vs. Blue Jackets and reached 50-point plateau for ninth straight season.
3. Mark Scheifele, Winnipeg. Has scored in three straight games and leads the Jets with 53 points.