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Thursday Links, News and Notes: Karlsson Disapproval, Andy’s Retirement and NWHL Expansion

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Can we really see hockey back this summer?

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Calgary Flames v San Jose Sharks Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Things are heating up in the world of hockey news, from announcements of a league expansion to discussion of a potential plan to return to the ice. Will we have hockey back soon? And more importantly for the Sens, when is that franchise altering draft going to happen?

  • Last year, women’s hockey in Canada took a hard hit when the CWHL folded after 12 seasons. It was no longer financially viable and even though the players were not paid high salaries, the league could not continue operations. From there, the players took it upon themselves to start fighting for their right by forming the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association, vowing not to play hockey in North America until their demand of a stable league and proper pay were met. However, the American-based NWHL decided that now is a good time to expand to Canada, officially announcing their new team in Toronto in an effort to continue to grow women’s hockey in North America and globally.
  • While it’s exciting to see women’s professional hockey back in Canada, some players are skeptical, and rightfully so. Players like Marie-Philip Poulin weren’t very excited about the expansion news and brushed it off saying that she wasn’t sure the league was professional. In addition, the PWHPA released a statement that strongly suggested they want nothing to do with the expansion, stating that it’s not what they’re looking for in their fight for a better future for the game.
  • It appears that our King, Erik Karlsson, is not being appreciated the same way he was here in Ottawa. Karlsson, who has yet to find the same magic in San Jose that he possessed in Ottawa, seems to have worn down his approval with the fans. The Athletic ran a survey asking San Jose Sharks fans about their opinions on a variety topics, such as the future of Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. Things took an interesting turn when fans were asked to vote for their least favourite player on the team, and while goalie Martin Jones received first place honours, Karlsson surprisingly came away with the second most votes in the poll. Maybe we got the best of Karlsson so it’s difficult to relate, but for him to be receiving so little appreciation is disheartening, even though the results were from a small sample size. Karlsson only belongs in Ottawa, this will always be a fact.
  • Additionally, when asked if Doug Wilson was right to give Karlsson his 8-year contract, the responses were 51.3% “Yes” and 48.7% “No”. Here’s an excerpt from Kevin Kurz:

[Karlsson] has, at times, shown he can still dominate, particularly during a six-week stretch in the middle of the 2018-19 season. He’s also suffered through poor starts and significant injuries both seasons, though, when multiple groin problems kept him out for most of the second half in 2018-19 and a broken thumb on Feb. 14 in Winnipeg ended his 2019-20 campaign. Furthermore, there has been speculation and some evidence that Karlsson’s arrival paired with Joe Pavelski’s departure has upended the team’s previously strong culture. It’s likely that Karlsson will continue to be a polarizing player among the fan base for the foreseeable future until he either reverts to his Norris Trophy-winning form or the team finds more sustained success.

  • For an update on the NHL’s response to COVID-19, there were talks of bringing back games to non-NHL cities who have not been hit hard by the virus. However, the league shut down the idea yesterday and instead suggested picking one city per division where teams could resume the season playing without fans. In addition, the idea has been floating around of potentially holding the NHL draft in June prior to the completion of the Stanley Cup Finals, although the ramifications of dealing with conditional draft picks and potential trades would be really confusing.
  • It’s sad to think about, but Craig Anderson playing another season for Ottawa seems unlikely at this point. Andy turns 39 in May, and while it seems inevitable that he will not be coming back to the Senators given his status as a pending unrestricted free agent, does he have it in him for another NHL season? He isn’t ready to decide on his future just yet, with the option of retirement on the table.