- One year after his diagnosis, Philadelphia Flyers forward Oskar Lindblom is cancer-free
- Dr. Fauci tells NHL commissioner Gary Bettman the NHL should use hub cities next season
- The Chicago Blackhawks have promoted general manager Stan Bowman
As we await more word on how and when the NHL plans to proceed for next season, let’s check out some notes from around the league.
In perhaps the best news to come out of the NHL in some time, the family of Philadelphia Flyers forward Oskar Lindblom announced on Instagram that the 24-year-old is cancer-free.
The news comes 369 days after Lindblom was first diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma which caused him to miss much of the regular season, however Swede miraculously made it back for two of the team’s playoff games against the New York Islanders and even averaged 17:06 of ice time in those contests.
“What a year!” Lindblom’s girlfriend, Alma, posted on Instagram. “369 days ago we found out Oskar has cancer, and today we got to know that the scans are clear after his second checkup.”
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Lindblom finished his treatments at Penn Medical Center on July 2. At the time of his Diagnosis last December, Lindblom was leading the Flyers with 11 goals in 30 games before being forced out for the remainder of the regular season. He credited the support of his teammates for giving him the strength to return to the ice in the postseason.
“It’s been everything,” he said according to NHL.com. “They talked to me like I’m still with the team even if I’m not there. Those tough weeks, when I felt so bad and trying to think about life and they’d call me, text me, help me get more energy. It helped me through the whole process.”
The Flyers gave Lindblom a three-year, $9M contract just three weeks after the end of his cancer treatment, and there’s little doubt he will be a big part of what the Flyers will do next season.
Certainly some welcoming news in a time where they seem to be few and far between.
NHL Hub Cities Possible?
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has been connecting with American’s most respected infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, for advice on how the NHL could proceed with a safe return to action next season.
It appears that Dr. Fauci has recommended that the league use hub cities as the best way of mitigating risk in 2021.
“I’m told that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has sought the counsel of Dr. Tony Fauci from the National Institute of Health over the course of this pandemic, and one of the recommendations that Dr. Fauci has made to Gary Bettman over the last numbers of weeks was, ‘If you want to pull this off and start the NHL season safely, the best way to do that would be in hubs,” TSN’s Frank Seravalli reported on Insider Trading.
“That’s not the preference of both clubs and players, but I’m told that hubs very much remain a Plan B and are on the table,” Seravalli added.
Recently, the NHL and the NHLPA were said to have a working agreement in place that included a Jan. 13 target start date, 10-day training camps and a 56-game regular-season schedule with an eye on handing out the Stanley Cup in June, as per usual, which would put the league back on track for a full 82-game season in 2021-22.
That said, Bettman stated putting players in hub cities for the duration of the 2020-21 season is not ideal.
“(Playing in home arenas) will not be as risk-averse as being in a bubble or a hub, but for en entire regular season, even if it’s abbreviated, we didn’t think we could put the players in a bubble for six months,” Bettman said Wednesday, according to NHL.com. “That just wasn’t practical.”
Although an entire season in a hub doesn’t appear to be in the cards, Bettman also acknowledged that hub cities could end up being utilized in some capacity next season.
“If enough teams can’t play, again, without fans, in their own facilities, then we may have to move more and more toward a hub,” he said. “It may be that some teams are playing in other buildings. It may be that a whole group of teams have to play in other buildings.”
Additionally, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman listed some potential hub cities that could be used next season.
Potential hubs could be Columbus, Newark, Vegas and Edmonton/Toronto. But, as Bettman indicated, not permanent bubbles as we saw last summer
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) December 16, 2020
Blackhawks GM Promoted
The Chicago Blackhawks have overhauled their front office, most notably promoting incumbent general manager Stan Bowman as the team’s new president of hockey operations, the team announced Wednesday. Bowman will remain the club’s GM as well.
“This is a special day for the Blackhawks organization and shows the bright future ahead for the team. I would like to thank Rocky and Danny Wirtz for their continued support and the opportunity to serve in this new role. Their leadership in developing the new organizational structure has set the stage for sustained success in the coming years,” Bowman said in the team’s release.
Additionally, the team also named Jaime Faulkner the new president of business operations and Danny Wirtz the club’s chief executive officer.
Faulkner was named one of Sports Business Journal’s women game-changers in sports in 2015. She’s now the fourth female in the Blackhawks’ hockey ops after the club recently hired USA Olympian Kendall Coyne Schofield as a player development coach.
The Blackhawks fired former president and CEO John McDonough in April after 13 season with the team.
Bowman was hired as general manager in 2009 and led the team trough their three Stanley Cup dynasty, winning in 2010, 2013 and 2015.