NHL Rumours: Wayne Gretzky, Montreal Canadiens, Olympics

NHL Rumours
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It’s Monday and that means a new edition of NHL Rumours after celebrating Mother’s Day. We’re days away from the Stanley Cup playoffs, but the NHL rumours are still flowing. Today we talk about which broadcaster may snag Wayne Gretzky. Plus, we talk Montreal Canadiens and the 2022 Olympics.

All NHL Rumours come from the original source and are subject to change.

NHL Rumours

Wayne Gretzky

Rumour: The New York Post reports that “The Great One” is being courted by Turner Sports for a “Charles Barkley” like role.

Analysis: Turner looks to land Gretzky for its studio show when they pick up part of the NHL contract starting next season. ESPN was trying to lure him to be a studio analyst, but Turner upped the bidding. It’s said that Barkley, who is Gretzky’s neighbour in Arizona, was used to recruit the hockey icon.

The Post said that Gretzky could command up to $5 million in salary while ESPN was willing to go to $2 million before dropping out of the bidding. However, ESPN/ABC denied they are out of the running. Sean Shapiro of The Athletic first reported the tussle for the Hall of Famer.

It would be a big get for someone to get Gretzky, but there’s only one Barkley. Gretzky’s words will carry enough weight without having to be controversial like his friend. Barkley is great, but one hopes Turner isn’t trying to just make a hockey version when Barkley may just show up anyway since he’s a big NHL fan.

Montreal Canadiens

Rumour: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said that general manager Marc Bergevin and owner Geoff Molson are “discussing the future.”

Analysis: Ownership usually likes to know what’s the plan going into the last year of a deal. Friedman said during Saturday’s Hockey Night in Canada Headlines segment that they’re possibly discussing what plans are next.

That doesn’t necessarily mean an extension is on the cards or that Bergevin will be let go. If an extension is on the table, there will still be plenty of talk on what a new deal may look like. Everything is still in the preliminary stages and nothing is set in stone.

Playoff performance will also be a factor in if Bergevin will be given a contract extension. The Habs GM post would be a coveted job if it did come open. However, it’s a high-pressure job with relentless scrutiny from fans and media alike. Having a solid future with Cole Caufield, Nick Suzuki and a veteran netminder in Carey Price makes it a great landing spot.

2022 Olympics

Rumour: TSN’s Insider Trading said that the clock is ticking on the NHL being part of the Beijing Olympics.

Analysis: It was thought Olympic participation would be part of the new collective bargaining agreement. However, the IOC and IIHF have yet to come to the league or the NHLPA about playing next season. TSN and The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun did say that Deputy Commissioner was concerned about the deal falling through.

One can understand that the IOC is worried about the Summer Tokyo games going off without a hitch. However, both the NHL and the NHLPA agree that time is of the essence and the league and the players want to play in Asia. They do need to know sooner rather than later despite the players wanting to represent their respective countries. The IOC/IIHF and NHL/NHLPA need to come to a deal to make things happen. NHL officials have to put a schedule together and need to know if they have to build an Olympic break into it.

It would be a large missed opportunity if the NHL can’t play in the Olympics. Opening up Asia would be a huge chance to get some more revenue. The NBA has done a great job of maximizing this market and the NHL needs to break in somehow.

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