Here is the news from around the NHL yesterday:
- The agreement to send NHL players to the Olympics that are merely 7 months away has finally been completed. Its a good thing the participation was assumed and the federations progressed on the basis that they would be going and planned that way. Insuring contracts will be too costly for any federation to have players skate at their summer orientation camp, so it will be a lot of off-ice meetings and theory sessions.
- The schedule was finally released with the confirmation that there will be an Olympic break. The season commences on October 1st and concludes April 13th. There will be 6 outdoor games, beginning with the Winter Classic – Toronto at Detroit – and ending with the Heritage Classic featuring the Senators and Canucks.
- The much anticipated new divisional names were also revealed, and it was a very disappointing geographical based naming scheme. The Senators will play in the Atlantic Division which consists of the old Northeast teams plus Florida, Tampa Bay and Detroit. Washington, Carolina and Columbus join the Metropolitan Division with the old Atlantic Division clubs. In the West, the Central Division will consist of Colorado, Chicago, Dallas, St. Louis, Winnipeg, Nashville and Minnesota and the Pacific Division will be made up of Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, LA, Phoenix, San Jose and Anaheim. The NHL missed a great opportunity to honor some of the game’s legends by naming the Divisions after the likes of Gretzky, Orr and Howe. Chalk it up to trying to appease the non-hockey fans who would get confused but such a format.
- The St. Louis Blues and Chris Stewart avoided arbitration by agreeing to a 2-year, $8.3M contract. Stewart can at times be a dominant power forward, but he needs to develop that ability on a more consistent basis to move into the upper echelon of forwards, and the Blues are paying him based on the potential for him to do that effectively.