Prout Suspended, Devils to Play Preseason Game in PEI

According to the NHL Department of Player Safety, Dalton Prout was suspended two games and fined $38,414.04 for his hit on Radko Gudas on Saturday against the Philadelphia Flyers. That was the play he received a five minute major for interference and a game misconduct.

The NHL’s official site has the play occurring at the 7:59 mark of the second period. The site also said that “Prout is considered a repeat offender under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement” and the fine was based on his annual salary. The money will go into the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

In more upbeat news, the Devils will play this fall in a special preseason game in O’Leary, Prince Edward Island against the Ottawa Senators. O’Leary was chosen as the winner in Kraft Hockeyville Canada (there is also a US version of the contest). The town was chosen from “nearly 3,000 nominations from communities across Canada.” This is the eleventh year the contest has been held, the fourth time the Senators will participate and the first time the Devils will skate in one.

The winning town as announced last Saturday by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on Hockey Night in Canada and the press release on mentioned that this is the first time the province of Prince Edward Island will host the event. The teams will visit the community, as will NHL alumni and NHL officials, there will be hockey clinics given, fans will be able to watch the morning skate and the Stanley Cup will also be there. The events will culminate with the NHL preseason game between the Devils and the Senators.

Laurie Kepron, NHL Group Vice President, Integrated Marketing said that “given the East Coast ties of both clubs, this promises to be a special event for fans in O’Leary and across PEI, as well as for our teams and League.”

In addition to all of this, O’Leary will also be given money towards local rink repairs and upgrades all as a way “to support grassroots hockey in Canada.”

The game will be played on September 25, 2017 and while it might not be a Winter Classic or any of the outdoor games the NHL doles out, it is still a very nice way for the Devils to give back to the community in a unique way.

Finally, the NHL announced today that they will not be sending players to the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in 2018.

One of the reasons cited in an article on by Dan Rosen was that the league shuts down at a very inopportune time when it sends players to the Winter Olympics. The NFL season has ended and Major League Baseball is still a month or so from starting again, so the NHL shuts down at a time when they could theoretically be getting the most eyeballs on their product.

According to Rosen, the “NHL conducted polls in both Canada and the United States to determine if fans were in favor of the League taking a break in February to allow players to compete in the Olympics.” The results were 73 percent against in the US and 53 percent against in Canada.

Rosen’s article said that since 1998, when the first NHL players went to the Nagano Olympics in Japan, about 700 players have participated (an average, he said, of 141 per season). The International Olympic Committee payed the NHL’s way in their participation (travel, insurance and accommodations for players and their guests according to Rosen) but declined to pay for the 2018 Games.

As Rosen said, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman felt that the money used to send the players to the Olympics could “otherwise be used to help grow the game” of hockey “at the grassroots level.”

There was also the possibility of injury in a condensed schedule with the Olympic break. Rosen said that injuries have impacted the results of the playoffs in years when NHL players go to the Olympics. Also, fatigue as teams with more players participating in the Olympics generally do not fare as well in the Stanley Cup tournament.

The NHLPA disagreed with the NHL’s move, feeling that with the next two Winter Olympics being played in Asia, the league is missing a good opportunity to grow the game internationally. Rosen said that the NHLPA called the lack of participation in the Games by the NHL “shortsighted.”

My feeling is that while most of the players do like representing their countries in the Olympics, I can certainly see things from Bettman and the NHL’s point of view. The league ends up missing out when they take two weeks off right in the middle of the season.

People are still watching hockey when they watch their country play in the Olympics, but they are not watching NHL hockey, which makes a difference to the teams and their bottom lines. Shutting down for two weeks in February is not a good business decision. Also, Rosen’s points about teams sending fewer players to the Games and faring better in the playoffs is definitely a very valid argument against going.

Likewise, the NHLPA’s point about growing the sport with participation in the Olympics makes sense too. We can see it both ways, but the point is moot. The NHL is not going to the Olympics next year.

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