Bettman Will Not Officially Recommend Players Leave Family Behind For Sochi
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is "going to Sochi for the second week of the Olympics," and said that he "isn’t recommending that players not bring their families," according to Damien Cox of the TORONTO STAR. However, Bettman "won't be accompanied" by his own family members. Bettman called it "an individual choice," saying he and NHLPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr "have had conversations, and the players association is in conversation with the players on this subject." Cox writes if NHLPA members are "this uncomfortable with the idea of the Sochi Games, one wonders if it might motivate the union to rethink its position on the Olympics in time for the 2018 gathering in Pyeongchang, South Korea." If not for "the desire of the players to compete, the NHL wouldn't even be in Sochi" (TORONTO STAR, 1/29). In Buffalo, Bucky Gleason writes the '10 Vancouver Games were "ideal for selling the game," but for the '06 Turin Games, "it was the opposite." Jet-lagged players were "exhausted when they arrived in Italy, the games were terrible and not enough fans paid attention." There is a "good chance for another mess to evolve in Russia." Gleason: "You can't help but wonder if the NHL agreed to participate in Russia partly because it buckled to [Capitals LW Alex Ovechkin], who announced four years ago that he would play in Sochi with or without the NHL's blessing" (BUFFALO NEWS, 1/29).
CIRCLING THE WAGONS: Bettman yesterday said that the league is "considering the Sabres' pitch to relocate the NHL's annual pre-draft scouting combine" from Toronto to Buffalo's HARBORCenter, set to open in October. Bettman: "It's a work in progress. We haven't made any decisions. But we're taking the expression of interest very seriously" (AP, 1/28).