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Insider Trading: Olympic participation twist, new in-season tournament in 2025

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Gino Reda is joined by TSN Hockey Insiders Pierre LeBrun, Chris Johnston and Darren Dreger to discuss the status of best-on-best international hockey, the status of the Arizona Coyotes arena situation, what we can expect at the 2024 NHL Draft, and more on Insider Trading.

It seemed like we were getting closer to getting NHL players to participate in the 2026 Olympics, but now there’s a twist?

Pierre LeBrun: Well, we are getting closer, but it just may not be the decision that everyone wants. But this is as negative as I [have] heard the NHL [talk] about potential player participation in 2026 in Italy for a couple of reasons.

Commissioner Gary Bettman came and spoke to the board of governors about an arena that isn’t built yet in Milan, Italy. That’s supposed to be built about six-to-eight weeks before the Olympics, which is a little tight for the commissioner. 

But also, there’s still no agreement on player insurance, or families travelling to the Olympics. Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said that he’s not pessimistic, but the fact is that it seems like the league is putting up an excuse wall just in case this doesn’t happen within the next couple of months.

Chris Johnston: Meanwhile, we’re starting to get some more of the details of what will be an in-season tournament in February 2025. NHL owners heard it’s likely to be a four-team event, a Four Nations style tournament, with Sweden, Finland, United States, and Canada. Those will all be NHL players participating.

Obviously, some will be left on the sidelines because we’ve got stars from lots of other countries in the league. That will be addressed in 2028 when the league is planning a full World Cup.

So, while we’re maybe getting a little doubt on the Olympics, there is some international hockey on the horizon.

Darren Dreger: Speaking of big events, expect changes to the NHL All-Star Game in Toronto, specifically to the Skills Competition. There’s going to be big bucks on the line. 

The stars assembled participating in the Skills Competition will get to select the six events they want to participate in, where there will likely be eight events total. 

There will be a point system where there will be one champion that could earn over $1 million.

There’s been a lot of questions about the Arizona Coyotes and their arena situation. Is there now a sense of urgency in their timeline?

Darren Dreger: No question about that. As we reported earlier, the Coyotes are in the process of trying to finalize a plot of land in the Phoenix area. That would be assumed where they would build a new arena. 

That process is ongoing and hasn’t been finalized yet.

You get the mood around owners and governors around the NHL that [the Coyotes] are at the end of the line here. 

Yes, perhaps you look at relocation. 

The NHL for sure is already looking at the scheduling for next year. So, we should have an answer whether Arizona is able to move ahead with this plot of land early in the new year.

We finally know we’re going to have the NHL Draft in Vegas and it’s going to be a spectacle.

Chris Johnston: It’s going to be the last of the traditional format in June at The Sphere in Las Vegas, so the league is going out with a bang. The league will start shifting things in 2025 when they’ll go to a decentralized model like the other professional sports leagues have.

I think the interesting part of this is just the amount of money it’s going to cost. No one here is saying exactly what that dollar figure is. I think part of it is that there’s an unknown about using the production value of everything that can happen in that building.

One governor did say Bettman used the term “crazy expensive”. 

We asked Gary Bettman about the status of the investigation of the 2018 Canadian men’s World Junior team, and he said they’re in the process, but it’s complicated.

Pierre LeBrun: To start, that answer was a departure from the status quo answer that we’ve been getting over the last year when we’ve asked this question. So that in itself was revealing.

But what he alluded to, we believe in some of our own reporting, is that the league is in discussion with the NHLPA, the players, and agents about trying to get on the same page in what discipline would look like in their role on this incident and I don’t know that they’re going to get on the same page. 

If this doesn’t end up becoming a criminal matter, I think there are probably people involved who don’t want to sign off on their own discipline.

So, this is a complicated process, as Bettman said, and we don’t know when there will be a resolution.