NHL boss: “What comes next we’ll all have to figure out”

Leave a comment

SOCHI, Russia — Let’s start with a direct quote from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman:

“I don’t want to get into what the pros and cons are for participating. Everybody knows them, and they’ve been debated ad nauseam. We are here because we think it’s great to be here today at this tournament. What comes next we’ll all have to figure out, as we’ve done each of the other times that the NHL players have participated.”

Because that, folks, is the most important takeaway from today’s press conference that featured Bettman, NHLPA chief Donald Fehr, and IIHF president René Fasel. Anyone who figured we’d learn something more definitive about the future of NHL participation in the Olympics was left disappointed, and was probably a bit naive to figure that in the first place.

“It’s nothing that’s been discussed. It’s nothing that will be discussed while we’re here in Sochi.”” said Bettman of the potential to send NHLers to Pyeongchang, South Korea, in 2018.

“From our standpoint, we have a process we go through,” said Fehr. “We have a significant time period which we talk to the players, digest what they have to say, figure out what they want, and then they tell me what they’d like me to do, and we try and make that happen. And that process will play out after the Games.”

The most entertaining part of today’s affair came near the end, when Fasel — a big supporter of maintaining NHL participation — said, “There is nothing like an Olympic gold medal in the life of an athlete. Nothing.”

To which Bettman responded, “Except perhaps winning the Stanley Cup.”

So failing any actual hard answers, at least there were some laughs.

At this point, the ball seems very much in the court of the players. As we wrote last week, if NHLers want to keep coming to the Olympics, they need to make that clear.

“None of this moves forward at all, if it moves forward at all, if the players don’t want to play,” said Bettman. “The reason we’re here in the first instance is this is a game with a history and tradition of international competition and our players, NHL players, love representing their countries. And so, if the players ever said, ‘We’re not interested,’ we’re not going to ever force them to go.”

As for when the decision will be made? Fehr employed a famous legal phrase: “I think it will be done…with all deliberate speed. You do it as fast as you can, but in a democratic organization, you have to do it at the rate the players are prepared to do it. All the players.”

Bettman backed the time frame of six months that was proposed by deputy commissioner Bill Daly.

“As a logistical matter, subject to what Don said, we don’t see why it couldn’t be done in that time frame,” said Bettman. “Frankly, if we’re going to continue to participate, having as long a runway as possible to use the advantages would be a good thing. And if we’re not going to participate, giving the various national federations an opportunity to adjust to that, giving them as much time as possible would be good.”

Watch Simone Biles samba to Destiny’s Child on ‘Dancing with the Stars’

Leave a comment

Simone Biles easily advanced to the final seven on “Dancing with the Stars,” while Nancy Kerrigan was the last contestant to survive elimination Monday night.

Biles, a four-time Rio Olympic gymnastics gold medalist, danced a samba to Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor” with partner Sasha Farber.

They received 35 points out of a possible 40 — with no 10s after Biles received her first 10s the previous week. It was the fourth-best score of eight couples Monday.

Judges felt their timing was off.

Kerrigan, a two-time Olympic figure skating medalist, performed with Artem Chigvintsev to En Vogue’s “Free Your Mind.”

They scored 33 points, lowest of the four women’s contestants remaining, with judges telling Kerrigan she looked unstable and tense at times. Kerrigan has been dealing with back pain and arm weakness.

“We had a lunch break, and we had sushi, and she couldn’t lift the soy sauce,” Chigvintsev said on ABC News.

The elimination came down to Kerrigan and “Glee” actress Heather Morris. Morris was cut, via a combination judges scores and fan votes, despite recording the first perfect score of the season Monday night.

The announcement drew boos from the studio crowd.

Kerrigan and Biles are looking to become the sixth Olympian to win the Mirrorball Trophy in the series’ 24 seasons, joining Kristi YamaguchiApolo OhnoShawn JohnsonMeryl Davis and Laurie Hernandez.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Biles leads Olympians in Time 100

London Marathon runners reflect on viral finish-line moment

Getty Images
1 Comment

A collapsing London Marathon runner who was helped to the finish line and the fellow runner who held him up recounted their inspiring two minutes.

Matthew Rees was rounding the final corner, signifying 200 meters left of the 26.2-mile race, when he saw David Wyeth struggling to stay on his feet on Sunday.

“My mind was like, I need to help this guy,” Rees said on the BBC. “He needs to get to the finish. You’ve come 26 miles, and the finish was just there. For me, it was important to get him to the end and cross together.”

Wyeth said he told Rees to go on without him. Rees declined. Wyeth said, “I’ve got to finish,” and Rees told him, “You will,” according to the Press Association.

“I can’t say how grateful I am to Matthew because you say that, Matthew, that others would have stopped,” Wyeth said on the BBC. “And I’m sure you’re right, that there may have been others, but you persisted.”

Rees held up Wyeth as it took them nearly two minutes to trudge to the finish line. Another person, appearing to be a race volunteer or official, also came over to help.

“It was great if I’ve inspired anyone, but I do think that anyone would’ve done the same thing,” Rees said on the BBC. “If it wasn’t me, it would have been the next runner. It’s just being a human, isn’t it? Seeing someone who’s struggling and helping them out.”

The pair crossed the finish at The Mall together, but with different times as they didn’t start together. Rees’ official time was 2 hours, 52 minutes, 26 seconds. Wyeth clocked 2:51:08.

“The time means absolutely nothing to me,” Wyeth said, according to the Press Association. “I feel a slight fraud for having a [finisher’s] medal around my neck. I should cut a little piece out because it belongs to Matthew.

“I really wouldn’t have got across the line — on my hands and knees, maybe, but the time meant nothing in the end because I know I wouldn’t have got there without Matthew putting his arm around me and carrying me over the line.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Another Russian medal from 2008 Olympics stripped