How about that home opener, eh? It’s been an interesting start to the season already. Injuries, upsets and jobs on the line and we’re barely a week in! Let’s take a quick tour around the league to catch the latest and greatest updates.
- The Tampa Bay Lightning will no longer need to sacrifice one of its star players to LTIR in order to circumvent the cap for the playoffs. Gary Bettman announced this week that the salary cap could increase by $4 million in the 2023/2024 season if the escrow debt is paid in full which he believes it will be. If not, then this large increase will happen the following season. The last increase was $1 million so the additional $3 million will be a much needed boost for many teams trying to lock up their star players (Artem Zub) or attract high-end talent.
- The NHL is trying very had to improve its image of being an exclusive and not necessarily the most welcoming sport around. While the progress is slowly happening, it’s going to take a while before the cultural shift is really making the impact it needs. The NHL decided to start releasing an annual Diversity and Inclusion report to highlight the areas of strengths and weaknesses around the league. It is meant to set a benchmark on how the league is improving and what efforts are being made. The findings of the first report are interesting but if you ever had the urge to think the NHL isn’t a mostly white environment; this stat is for you: 84% of the NHL workforce is identified as white; and this is considering a few years worth of work to be a more diverse organization. I hope these reports continue to be released and in a transparent manner, more importantly I hope we see a significant improvement in some of the released stats.
- The Toronto Maple Leafs usually wait until their annual first round playoff exit before having a complete meltdown. This season, they’ve decided to beat the rush and just begin the season with the meltdown. The Leafs currently sit 5th in the division with a 2-2 record. Not the worst performance so far but considering the two losses were against the Habs and Coyotes, it seems fans are getting nervous. Add in the drama of coach Sheldon Keefe calling out his “elite” players and you just get a recipe for a disaster. Now, they have to deal with another key player being injured as Jake Muzzin goes on injured reserve with a neck injury. If I had to place any bets, the Leafs might be the first team this season with a knee jerk firing or trade.
- Some more key injuries: The Detroit Red Wings will be without Tyler Bertuzzi for 4-6 weeks after sustaining an upper body injury from blocking a shot. Aaron Ekblad of the Florida Panthers has been placed on LTIR with a lower body injury but is expected to return in a few weeks. The Stanley Cup Champions will be without their captain for the next 12 weeks as Gabriel Landeskog recovers from an arthroscopic knee surgery.
- The Detroit Red Wings will also be without Jakub Vrana for an indefinite period of time as the NHL and NHLPA have announced that he was placed in the Player’s Assistance Program.
- The revelation of the multiple funds Hockey Canada maintained to cover up sexual misconduct and other scandals was disturbing and concerning. However, it also revealed another issue within the organization as Olympic Gold Medalist, Katie Weatherston, is now coming forward with her story. Weatherston sustained a brain injury while playing for Team Canada and instead of finding support from the organization that is meant to protect her, she was told they could only spare $4,000 for her ongoing medical needs. It is very understandable why Weatherston would now feel angrier considering Hockey Canada prioritized protecting players’ misconduct over providing support for players who needed medical assistance.
- Lastly, the excitement from the home opener was astounding. The fans, the game, the vibes, it was all so magical. CBC’s Alan Neal invited Shaila Anwar (@Fffeisty), Govindh Jayaraman (@govindh) and myself for a little overview of the experience and we ended up just gushing over Alfie for most of it. You can listen to the entire segment here!