NHL Notebook: NHL kiboshes World Cup of Hockey, Zach Werenski out for the season with shoulder injury and more

Photo credit:Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
1 year ago
The worst of the worst news came out Friday, as the NHL announced that the World Cup of Hockey has been canceled for 2024.
“Over the last year, the NHL and the NHLPA have been working on plans to conduct the next World Cup of Hockey, the premier international best-on-best hockey tournament, in February 2024,” said the NHL in a statement. “Unfortunately, in the current environment, it is not feasible to hold the World Cup of Hockey at that time.
“We continue to plan for the next World Cup of Hockey, hopefully in February 2025.”
Without a doubt tough news, but as Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli writes, the “hopefully” could be carrying a lot of weight in that sentence. He pens that this could be a lasting stain on the legacies of Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr.
That the NHL and NHL Players’ Association will have gone at least 11 years between true best-on-best international competition will ultimately be the lasting stain on the legacies of Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr.
Yes, you read that correctly. Park the three cash-grab lockouts of Bettman’s tenure. They were ruthless but brilliant. The seven percent swing in revenue since 2013 has been worth an approximate $2.7 billion additional dollars in owners’ pockets over that time. That’s billion with a ‘b.’ If it were your business, you’d shut down for four months if it meant that much extra, too.
Then there was Friday’s news that the NHL and NHLPA made the joint decision to punt on playing a World Cup of Hockey in 2024, as had been in the works for well over a year. The two sides said the “current environment is not feasible to hold” a tournament at that time.
Instead, their joint statement said they will “continue to plan for the next World Cup of Hockey, hopefully in February 2025.”
Allow me to translate for you: With Russia’s ongoing and disgusting invasion of Ukraine, the NHL and NHLPA are crossing their fingers and hoping that situation will blow over and resolve itself by then, so hockey can pretend like nothing ever happened and include Russian-born players again.
The same league that spoke with bravado in February, issuing statements condemning Vladimir Putin’s invasion on Ukraine and saying they were suspending business operations with Russian partners, pausing their Russian language social media, and cutting official communication with Russia’s KHL, suddenly does not have any interest in drawing a real line in the sand to bar Russian players from a 2024 World Cup.
Then, when it became apparent that other European federations such as Czechia, Finland and Sweden were not on-board with whitewashing Russian player participation by having them skate together under a banner that was not the Russian flag, the NHL and NHLPA punted on the tournament entirely.
So if you’re keeping score at home, Putin wins again. In addition to the havoc wreaked in Ukraine, he’s held the sport he holds nearest and dearest – the game he’s used to sportwash his authoritarian policy – hostage for at least 2024.
But the real losers are hockey fans around the globe. Not playing again until 2025, at the earliest, will make for 11 full years between true best-on-best international play. Because the 2016 World Cup of Hockey does not count – Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews were playing for the invented Team North America in that tournament.

Werenski out

My fantasy hockey keeper team is in shambles as Columbus Blue Jackets defenceman Zach Werenski will miss the remainder of the season due to multiple shoulder injuries.
Werenski suffered a torn labrum and a seperated shoudler, but he’s not the only Blue Jacket to be hurt.
Defenceman Nick Blankenburg is out for the foreseeable future after breaking his ankle. Sean Kuraly and Jakub Voracek, meanwhile, were also placed on the IR.
Werenski left Columbus’ game during the first period on Thursday against Philadelphia after going for a hit on Travis Konecny. Werenski hit the boards awkwardly and immediately left for the dressing room after 6:03 of ice time.
Werenski, the team’s top defenseman, had three goals and eight points in 13 games for Columbus prior to the injury. He had a career-high 48 points last season, leading the team without Seth Jones for the first time. – Daily Faceoff

Zegras can’t save the Ducks

Trevor Zegras is a tremendous player, but on a struggling Anaheim Ducks team, he can’t be the only one to save them, pens Daily Faceoff’s Matt Larkin. 
Within less than a year of the Ducks drafting him ninth overall in 2019, the scouting community got the sense that he was a steal even that high. It wasn’t so much the razzle dazzle of his game, honed as a kid by watching YouTube videos of Patrick Kane, that attracted the eyeballs. It was the all-around vision, the sublime passing ability. One scout told me in 2021 they believed he would “absolutely be a superstar in this league.” And even then, his ability might have been underestimated. When Zegras and I spoke for the first time in 2021, he talked a lot about wanting to develop himself as a goal-scorer, too. He believed in that part of his game even though it wasn’t advertised as much as a key feature.
All the pieces have come together at the NHL level for the Ducks No. 1 center. He was the Calder Trophy runner-up in 2021-22, he has seven goals in his first 14 games this season, and neither of those facts tell the whole story. Zegras got hot in the second half last season, remember. From March 1 onward, he had 10 goals and 22 points in 26 games. That gives him a stat line of 17 goals and 34 points in his past 40 games, which extrapolates to a 34-goal, 70-point pace over an 82-game season. The awakening is happening.
And yes, of course, it matters that Zegras doesn’t do it quietly on the ice. His skills couldn’t be louder. He’s become the king of the Michigan lacrosse goal, as we all know, and doesn’t rule out trying something else if it comes to him.
“I have no idea: maybe it’ll just come to me randomly,” he said before the season began, with an earnest laugh as usual. “Usually that’s how it works. Just instinct, like if I see something, quick twitch, I dunno. I don’t have anything planned, so to speak.”

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@oilersnation.com.

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