Olympic roster dispute rages on; the Ken Hitchcock watch
It's been two weeks since Russian Olympic coach
"I wouldn't guarantee a place on the Olympic team to anyone," Bykov was quoted as saying. "If my players can't perform up to the standards playing for their respective clubs, then how can I rely on them in Vancouver?"
That statement came as a shock to Team USA and Team Canada, which were operating under the assumption that rosters have been locked in and change can only come through substituting a healthy player for an injured one.
There are two problems with that:
The IIHF, in response to numerous media inquiries, always comes back with the same answer: "It's a provisional roster and it can be changed prior to the final roster on Feb. 15," says IIHF spokesman
In an initial response made to ESPN.com, NHL Deputy Commissioner
Reached by e-mail Thursday afternoon and asked if there has been any resolution to the dispute -- the NHL and NHLPA have filed a joint protest to the IIHF --- Daly wrote: "To the extent there really is an ongoing dispute, there has been no resolution. We have an agreement with the IIHF and the participating federations which allows substitution only in the event of bona fide injuries. This is the same agreement we have made (and all countries abided by) in the past."
There is no reason to doubt Daly. There surely is an agreement, likely in writing, that supports him. But does it override what appear to be IIHF and IOC rules? Does it apply to non-NHL players?
No one has issued a definitive answer and one could easily surmise that the IIHF is tweaking the NHL's nose to twist it out of joint due to a litany of issues the two organizations have been warring on for years. It's also possible that the IIHF finds itself caught between the old rock and the hard place knowing full well what the rules are even though it agreed to an "arrangement" to bring NHL players into the Games, one that has served the IIHL well in terms of growth and money.
You might, at this point, be asking why this is so important.
Well, what Bykov has done is throw open the argument that he's entitled to survey the rosters of competing teams and make revisions to counter them. For instance, former NHL All-Star defenseman
Though the heads of Team USA and Team Canada are on record that they will honor what the NHL says is the spirit of the agreement, both can't help but notice Russia's edge and will want to be able to respond accordingly. If they don't win their argument with the IIHF, might we anticipate a rash of undocumented "injuries" the night before the tournament begins?
It's a grey area right now, but as the Games get closer and the interest and intensity become more all-encompassing, one could expect that Canada and the U.S. are going to be looking not only for every advantage, but to counteract the one that the Russians have, at this point at least, carved out for themselves.
The Blue Jackets play the Oilers in Edmonton on Thursday night, and while the outcome is essentially meaningless to both teams -- also-rans from different divisions -- a Columbus loss could well mean the end of employment for coach
That's neither right nor fair, as one could argue that the Jackets' No.1 problem is goaltending (or lack of same) and not coaching, but this is a game that GM
The Jackets made the playoffs for the first time in their history last season and a huge part of that was the coaching of Hitchcock and the play of goalie
The betting here is that Howson knows all that, but must see his team give an effort for its coach in a market where it matters most to the GM.