June 30, 2015
After Alex Semin sat in the Carolina Hurricanes’ press box in mid-January as a healthy scratch, his general manager still had faith. “We think we can do it. We’re not giving up on him at all,” said Ron Francis at the time.
Well, the time has come and the Canes have seen enough. On Tuesday, the club announced they were placing Semin on unconditional waivers with the intent of buying out the remaining three years of his contract.
In 2013, Semin signed a five-year, $35 million deal in the middle of a 13-goal, 44-point lockout-shortened campaign in his first year in Carolina. The extension was signed while the Russian forward was on a one-year, $7 million contract. Both deals were handed to him by former GM Jim Rutherford, who’s now with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
According to War on Ice, Carolina will owe Semin nearly $14 million over the next six years and carry a $2.33 million cap hit through the 2020-21 NHL season should he clear waivers. The NHL’s deadline to buy out players is Tuesday.
Semin had an OK season in 2013-14, scoring 22 times and recording 42 points in 65 games, but at that price tag the Canes wanted more. The 2014-15 season was a disaster, featuring numerous healthy scratches and 6 goals and 19 points in 57 games, along with the franchise running out of patience with him.
“Some nights you didn’t even know if he was gonna come to the rink,” said former Washington Capitals teammate Troy Brouwer in a 2013 radio interview. “It’s tough to play alongside guys like those because you don’t know what you’re gonna get out of ’em.”
I don’t think this is the last we’ve seen of the 31-year old Semin in the NHL. A string of one-year deals with not a ton of money seem like the perfect way for him to continue his career in the league. He’s shown he can score a ton of goals in the right situation. Which GM feels his team can turn the forward’s career around?
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The model of the Detroit Red Wings new arena is starting to take shape. And it looks most impressive, in the above video provided by the Red Wings.
It will be in a 45-block area, called “The District Detroit” and will include residential, retail and commercial elements.
Somewhere Kid Rock is writing a rock ballad about America and Detroit to commemorate this. Oh wait, he’s written like 30 of those already.
The rendering was recently opened in the northwest corridor of Comerica Park – the home of the Detroit Tigers. Gross pizza guru Mike Ilitch owns both the Red Wings and Tigers.
There’s also this element, explained in Sports Business Journal:
The design "offers the feel of a pedestrian walkway adjacent to the seating bowl and lined by retail and restaurant options, all under a clear roof cover." Officials at Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch's real estate group, Ilitch Holdings, "hope that once their initial project begins, it will spur additional development from businesses looking to join the novel design of a 'village of buildings,'" as HOK co-Founder & Senior Principal George Heinlein describes the project.
It will also feature a 'Sunken Bowl' design, which supposedly will make it seem less like a major arena and blend with the neighborhood.
Red Wings CEO and parent company Olympia Entertainment President & CEO Tom Wilson said that the sunken-bowl design "significantly reduces the height of the structure -- it will be about half the height of United Center and Staples Center to bring scale for the overall development and make it feel more like a regular neighborhood."
The Red Wings currently play in Joe Louis Arena – which opened in 1979. The new arena, which is set to open in 2017 will be the first new building in the league since Pittsburgh and the Penguins opened the Consol Energy Center in 2010.
Ilitch has been adamant about building and keeping downtown Detroit vibrant, in spite of the city’s poor economics. In that case, look at all the happy people in the below picture.
This reported $650 million project appears ambitious, no doubt, but appears to be a valiant attempt to revitalize the city. No word yet on the official pizza vendor in the arena.
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To call Don Sweeney “much maligned” in his early days as Boston Bruins general manager would be an understatement. Everything from his ability to maximize value in trades to the direction of the franchise has been questioned based on 72 hours of controversial transactions.
So after trading forward Milan Lucic and defenseman Dougie Hamilton, are the Bruins in a rebuild?
“No, I don’t think it’s a rebuild,” he said on Tuesday. “We have a tremendous core group of guys that will carry and even more tremendous load while we wait for these young players to find their footing.”
OK, so maybe it’s a “build” instead. Sweeney boasts that the Bruins are bringing back five of their six defenseman from last season, although that back-end saw the Bruins’ team GAA go from a 2.08 to a 2.45 year to year. (Injuries were a factor.) In that group is Adam McQuaid, whose contract received an 'F' on a Bruins draft weekend report card.
Sweeney acknowledges that the Bruins need to add goal-scoring badly this offseason; and the UFA market being what it is, Sweeney might look at players that have yet to meet their scoring potential.
“I would look at players that have the ability to score some goals, jumping into that next level of scoring or have a full body [of work],” he said.
What Sweeney is really asking for, essentially, is for patience. And some faith.
He doesn’t have either from Bruins fans at the moment, who have seen a bungled Hamilton trade derby – with a return just a shade above what the Bruins would have gotten from an offer sheet – as well as fan favorite Milan Lucic traded to the Los Angeles Kings due to economics and the baffling acquisition of Philadelphia Flyers fourth-liner Zac Rinaldo, a clear throwback to the type of “Bruins hockey” that President Cam Neely threatened to, well, “rebuild.”
Sweeney said the Bruins hoped to dig through the meathead and find the player inside Rinaldo, whose “courage” he lauded.
“We’re certainly hoping he can move forward in his career. The skating piece, the courage piece, maybe there’s a penalty-killing component to his game. There’s more to this player than his crash and bang game,” he said.
Another name that was mentioned frequently on Tuesday’s conference call was that of Martin Jones, the restricted free agent goalie that the Bruins acquired for Lucic. A goalie that could still have an offer sheet put on him by another team.
“We had discussions, we’ve explored some different possibilities with him. We’ll see where the day leads to,” Sweeney said.
Where it won’t lead, according to the Bruins: To Tuukka Rask leaving Boston in a blockbuster trade this summer.
“Tuukka Rask is not on the market,” Sweeney said, emphatically.
On Wednesday, the market is open for teams like the Bruins to improve via free agency. Sweeney won’t rule out offer sheets. He’s actively shopping Marc Savard’s cap hit to acquire assets. He’s talking to the agents of free agents to gauge interest in the Bruins.
“If this doesn’t materialize tomorrow, I’m sure criticism will come again,” he said.
But Sweeney said he’s undaunted by the maligning of his rookie summer as GM.
“I did attack this from looking at cap flexibility, and improving my team from now until Sept. and going forward. Some situations we were presented would have put us further behind the eight ball,” he said.
“Some people are looking at this as taking steps backward,” he said, “[but we have a] plethora of players, so that you and everyone will say, ‘Wow, they got some really good assets.’”
Patrick Kane told us it was coming. During the Chicago Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup parade earlier this month, the forward ended his speech at Soldier Field by saying, “I know you said I've been growing up, but watch out for me the next week.”
There haven’t been any crazy drunken sightings of “Showtime” since then, but Kane and the Cup have made their way around Chicago since. On Saturday night, in what is now tradition, they appeared on stage at a Jimmy Buffet concert, with Kane working the tambourine.
After the concert, still donning his Parrothead hat, Kane stopped at Riley’s Gathering Place to do a little karaoke, Tom Petty-style:
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, once Kane finished “Free Falling,” one of the Cup keepers brought the trophy into the bar for fans to enjoy.
We're looking forward to when Kane eventually retires and he turns into hockey's Bill Walton and follows Buffet around on tour every summer.
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June 30, 2015
Chris Pronger was asked about it several ways, but he wasn’t going to acknowledge it.
How surreal it was to still have an active NHL contract and be elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame. How surreal it was to actually have been involved in an NHL trade less than 48 hours before his selection. How surreal it was to have the gatekeepers to immortality change their bylaws to grant him access, because his circumstances – a stick to the head in 2011 and post-concussion syndrome ended his career, but not his contract – were extraordinary.
"I think nothing I've done has been the easy way. I guess this would follow suit,” was the best he could muster.
All of it must be humbling for Pronger. And awkward. And frustrating. Were it not for a Collective Bargaining Agreement that has more loophole’s than grandma’s knitting, the games being played with his contract would cease. Were it not for the injury, he would still be patrolling a blueline somewhere, elbows out, stick ready to turn opponents into a kabob.
Or maybe he wouldn’t still play that way. He is, of course, an employee of the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. He understands what is and isn’t allowed. If a player today played like the Pronger of the eight suspensions? "I don't know if you could,” he said with a chuckle, during a Hockey Hall of Fame conference call. “They might be in front of me if they did."
It’s surreal that Chris Pronger is now paid to prevent future Chris Prongers from hatching and menacing the NHL. It’s surreal that Chris Pronger is an NHL employee, while getting paid on an active NHL player contract. It’s surreal that Chris Pronger is an NHL employee, getting paid on an active NHL player contract, and will be a name featured on the Arizona Coyotes roster on his induction day for the Hockey Hall of Fame – a team the NHL, his employer, recently sold to its current owners.
C’mon, Chris, this is a little absurd, right?
“Someone told me they were thinking about changing the bylaws, and letting injured players that were still under contract to be able to go into the Hall of Fame. I knew at that point I had been out for three and a half years. I was excited to hear the news,” said Pronger.
All of the wacky details of his Hall of Fame journey aside, let’s be real: Pronger is a quintessential Hall of Famer.
He was unique: 6 foot 6 with underrated speed, offensive flair and a bludgeoning defensive style that would cross the line more often than a clumsy bowler. Winner of the Hart Trophy. Winner of the Norris Trophy. Winner of the Stanley Cup in 2007 with the Anaheim Ducks.
“When I first got there, Scott Niedermayer was the only one that had won a Cup,” he said. “There was a burning desire to get back there and win one. It wasn’t to have 100 points or win the Norris Trophy. It was to win the Stanley Cup.”
There are two things that’ll stick with me about Pronger, and one of them isn’t that Cup – it’s the Cups he didn’t win.
His run with the Edmonton Oilers in 2006 was Herculean. I can’t recall a defenseman placing his team on his back like that in a run to the Final. Had it not been for Cam Ward getting his Dryden on, Pronger wins the Conn Smythe in a losing effort.
His run with the Philadelphia Flyers, through three rounds, was equally incredible. He wasn’t as effective in the last round against the Chicago Blackhawks on the ice, but his off-ice shenanigans – remember the stolen puck? – were a different kind of leadership. Again, he came close to winning MVP in a losing effort, which is amazing once and unprecedented twice.
But the second thing I’ll remember about Pronger was that, in his words, he played “Flyers hockey”: Win at all costs, intimidate the other guy, inflict as much pain no matter the consequences. Yes, his flurry of elbows literally wouldn’t fly in today’s NHL. No, skate-stomping an opponent is generally frowned upon.
But there was always a disconnect between how we reacted to his villainy and how his teammates reacted to it.
I remember talking to a then-recently retired player when the Flyers acquired Pronger in 2009 during the NHL Draft – a then-enormous price paid in response to the Pittsburgh Penguins winning the Stanley Cup. I asked him how a player like Pronger would be received in the locker room, considering his lack of concern of his fellow man’s safety and wellbeing.
“They’ll love him,” he said, “because he does those things so we don’t have to.”
And say this about Pronger: No one else relished the role as much as he did.
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Did Pierre McGuire out the reason why the Kings terminated the contract of Mike Richards for a “material breach” of his deal?
While the NHL on NBC Sports analyst didn’t get into the hard details on TSN 690’s Melnick in the Afternoon show in Montreal, McGuire indicated the incident that led to the Kingss decision happened at a border crossing. Here is the link and we’ve displayed the transcript below. The segment starts at around the 9:17 mark.
Melnick: “Somebody in the know is telling me something happened with Mike Richards at a border crossing.”
Pierre: “Correct … I’m not going to talk about it until it’s made public. I have a pretty good idea of what’s happened.”
Melnick: “So the information I have, you can confirm that?”
Pierre: “Your information is probably pretty accurate.”
Earlier, ESPN.com said it was because of an ‘off-the-ice incident’ the team was made aware of Friday.
Several sources told ESPN.com the Kings were made aware of the situation Friday, approximately an hour after the first round of the 2015 NHL draft had begun.
The Kings announced they put Richards on unconditional waivers Sunday. He cleared, and a regular buyout was expected. At the time it seemed like LA was acknowledging a mistake from the prior summer by not using a compliance buyout on Richards, who hadn’t notched more than 44 points in a season with the Kings since his trade to LA in 2011.
Then the team announced the termination of the deal.
According to ESPN, the Kings had to pull the plug on any potential trades with Edmonton or Calgary at the draft Friday night. Both teams were reportedly vying for Richards’ services.
"He came right over to me," Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli confirmed to ESPN.com. "He pulled me aside and said, 'Hey, Pete, this is going to come out. I had no idea. This is important you know so that talks [don't go any] further.'"
It’s still unclear how Richards will proceed moving forward. We still don’t have all the specifics on why the Kings made this decision, which actually saves them a large portion of Richards’ salary cap hit for the remainder of his deal – though there will be a cap recapture penalty.
The NHLPA released a statement saying it will consult with Richards, who probably was not a fan of seeing his 12-year $69 million contract ended with five years remaining.
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The NHL Free Agent Frenzy gets going on July 1, and that means a whole bunch of teams looking to spend a whole bunch of money on players that probably aren't worth it.
Yahoo Sports' Puck Daddy editor Greg Wyshynski offers his take on five (or so) free agents that are going to make millions with contracts they aren't going to live up to based on expectations. These are the land mines of the 2015 Frenzy -- step around them at your peril!
Join Puck Daddy on July 1 for a full day of coverage, including a live chat, instant reaction podcasts and a video wrap-up of the day's signings, both good and bad.
Sergei Fedorov and Peter Karmanos, Jr., are two members of the Hockey Hall of Fame's Class of 2015. Karmanos, the owner of the Carolina Hurricanes, said of Fedorov that it was “pretty obvious that he was going to be a Hall of Famer.”
Which helps explain why he was willing to hand him $38 million back in 1998.
The Carolina Hurricanes were a money-losing team as the franchise moved from Hartford to Raleigh. Estimates were that the team was $25 million in the hole that year.
So what did owner Karmanos do? He put a six-year, $38-million offer sheet on Fedorov, a superstar with the Detroit Red Wings who had been unsigned during a bitter restricted free-agent negotiation with the team.
Oh, and it was a doozy of a contract, according to this 1998 piece by Michael Russo:
Just $12 million of the $38 million is Fedorov's base salary, which will be paid at $2 million per year. He will receive a $14 million signing bonus, which will bump him to $16 million this year, leaving a final $12 million.
But that's the kicker, a scare tactic the Hurricanes hope discourages Detroit owner Mike Ilitch from matching the offer. The $12 million will be paid to Fedorov over the next four years unless the team reaches the conference finals. Then the bonus must be paid in one lump sum.
And since the Red Wings were a hell of a lot closer to making the conference final than Carolina, this was indeed a poison pill Karmanos had Mike Ilitch swallow.
But swallow it he did, and Fedorov made $28 million that season for about 4 months of work. The result was “a league-wide escalation of salaries -- not to mention a breakdown in the restricted free agent system,” according to the Hartford Courant.
Much of this stemmed from a rivalry between Karmanos and Ilitch. Karmanos wanted to move the Whalers to Detroit; the Red Wings blocked it with help from the NHL. Both sponsored amateur teams that were local rivals. According to the NY Times: “When Karmanos ran a major junior team at Joe Louis Arena, the home of the Red Wings, Ilitch evicted him, forcing Karmanos to relocate to the suburbs in 1995.”
So this was a level of revenge. But the ultimate chance to defeat Ilitch came in 2002.
“I remember one of the columnists in Detroit on a radio show wondering what was wrong with me. How could I expect the Hurricanes could even compete for the Stanley Cup?” Karmanos said of the Fedorov offer sheet.
But in 2002, the Hurricanes met the Red Wings in the Stanley Cup Final. The series turned in Game 3, with the teams tied at a win apiece: a triple-overtime win for the Red Wings on an Igor Larionov goal.
But the game was sent to overtime with just 1:14 left in regulation on a Brett Hull goal. And it was Fedorov that helped make it happen.
“As fate would have it, Fedorov made an unbelievable a play to keep the puck in our zone,” recalled Karmanos. “And Mr. Hull scored the goal.”
The other assist went to Nicklas Lidstrom, Class of 2015 Hall of Famer, who called it one of this most memorable moments as the Red Wings would win the Stanley Cup in five games.
It was for Karmanos as well … if only because of what might have been.
“If Sergei had been playing on our team that year, as good as the Red Wings were, we would have … “ Karmanos’s words trailed off.
“First of all, if we had won that game, it really would have put the pressure on the Red Wings,” he said. "Had they not matched [the offer sheet], we would have won another Cup."
Karmanos’s team eventually did win the Cup in 2006, defeating another 2015 Hockey Hall of Famer, Chris Pronger, and the Edmonton Oilers.
Overall, Karmanos, who is being inducted in the “builder” category,” said the growth of the Hurricanes fan base has been steady since the move from Hartford – even if it meant converting a lot of fans that had previous loyalties.
“They would show up at the games, in the beginning, wearing Blackhawks or Buffalo jerseys. And the next time I’d see them at the game they’d have Hurricanes jerseys on,” he said,
But nearly 20 years after the relocation, Karmanos said building that fan base remains a challenge. “We still have to work very hard to bring the fans into the building, but they are great hockey fans in the Sunbelt. We just need more of them. That’s all,” said the owner, who has had his share of the Hurricanes on the block since last year.
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New Buffalo Sabres center Ryan O’Reilly is done with the questions that plagued his tenure with the Colorado Avalanche – the queries about his contract negotiations, his relationships with teammates are finally over.
He’s now a Sabre, and while he acknowledged he enjoyed his time in Colorado, he understood the stigma that he was a guy who had trouble closing a deal to play with the team.
“I think our negotiations have always been kind of difficult and I really think there’s nothing I would have done differently,” he said. “My agent has done phenomenal things for me in my career and this is the next step for me here.”
This is important for the Sabres, since July 1, the team can sign the newly-acquired center to a contract. O’Reilly, 24, is entering the final season of a two-year $12 million contract that was settled right before an arbitration hearing in 2014. Next summer he will be an unrestricted free agent. He had 55 points in 82 games last season and 64 points in 80 contests the year before.
His previous contract was signed as an offer sheet by the Calgary Flames, which Colorado matched.
Judging by O’Reilly’s chipper and enthusiastic tone on the conference call, it didn’t seem like a deal would be difficult, though with him you never know.
“Talking about July 1 is something I look forward to,” O’Reilly said. “I’ve been to Buffalo before. I know a couple of guys on the team, a couple of guys have reached out. I’m excited to get that move forward and get that behind me.”
As most introductory news conference calls go, the topics of conversation were rosy.
O’Reilly on Evander Kane:
“He’s a guy who when you give him a chance, he’s going to bury you so much with his speed and his strength. He’s going to make any team more effective and more dangerous.”
O’Reilly on playing with 2015 No. 2 overall draft pick Jack Eichel:
“For me, just to be around that kind of skill level. He’s a phenomenal player and you have seen in the past that can come in and make a difference right away. That’s huge for anything. Obviously I’m going to try to help and teach whatever I can do to help make him the better player. It’s definitely exciting and going to be an honor to play with him.”
Wow, the veteran guy bowing down to the rookie? Interesting indeed.
In spite of O’Reilly’s rep as a guy who’s constantly chasing bucks, GM/brilliant mad scientist Tim Murray seems to envision a 1-2 punch of O’Reilly and Eichel down the middle for years. And yes, he will have to make O’Reilly the highest-paid Sabre to do this.
O’Reilly said he wants to be a leader on the Sabres and that he wasn’t exactly given that opportunity in Colorado. Burrrrrrrrrrnnnnn? Not really actually. They just had their core and O’Reilly wasn’t really ‘the guy’ in Colorado – a team that has Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon.
“With Colorado I wasn’t really looked at as much of a leader as I think I have now here with the Sabres,” he said. “I think I’m going to have to be a more vocal guy and be more that off ice leader and on ice as well, but it’s really a challenge.”
There he is folks, the happy-go-lucky strangely unsignable Ryan O’Reilly.
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The Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee announced its Class of 2015 on Monday: Detroit Red Wings legends Nicklas Lidstrom and Sergei Fedorov; former Buffalo Sabres great Phil Housley; current Arizona Coyote Chris Pronger; former Hockey Hall of Fame chairman Bill Hay and Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos, Jr. in the Builder category; and U.S. Olympic great Angela Ruggiero in the women’s player category.
Hall of Fame forwards and defensemen will have played a minimum of 800 NHL regular season games or recorded a minimum of 300 goals, 400 assists or 700 points.
It’s an incredible class of NHL stars.
The word “legend” gets tossed around a little too much in sports, but it’s hardly ever more applicable than in discussing defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom.
He won seven Norris Trophies in his 20-season career. He won four Stanley Cups. He won the Conn Smythe. He won Olympic gold in 2006. He has 1,142 points in 1,564 games, including 878 assists, fifth highest for a defenseman in NHL history. His postseason performances were epic, including a plus-61 all-time in the playoffs, an NHL record.
Stylistically, he was a player many young defensemen tried to emulate: Smart as well with the puck and perhaps even smarter with his body positioning. He showed you could be a dominant defenseman without throwing your body around, which isn’t always an easy thing to prove when you’re a European in the NHL.
He was nicknamed “The Perfect Human,” and that might have been an understatement.
Fedorov was, like Pavel Bure, an absolutely show-stopper of an offensive player at center and wing. Blazing fast, a brilliant shot and the kind of moves that had kids emulating him in the street. But he was the total package: Before Pavel Datsyuk became the go-to name for dominant defensive forwards for the Red Wings, it was Fedorov that collected Selke Trophies in 1994 and 1996.
Fedorov won the Hart Trophy in 1994 for a 120-point season that saw him score 56 goals. He captured three Stanley Cups with the Red Wings, and scored 176 points in 183 playoff games. He played 1,248 games and had a points-per-game average of 0.945, which is better than Mike Modano (.917) and Mike Gartner (.932).
Pronger is considered one of the most physically dominating defensemen in NHL history, or at least one of the most physically intimidating given his nearly dozen career suspensions.
He played with an edge, and crossed the line more than a few times, but he also had 698 points in 1,167 games, the Hart Trophy and Norris Trophy in 2000 and a Stanley Cup championship in 2007. He could have even earned a pair of Conn Smythe Trophies in losing efforts in 2006 with the Edmonton Oilers and 2010 with the Philadelphia Flyers.
Of course, Pronger’s case is a unique one: He’s still being paid on an NHL contract despite having no hope of playing again after suffering a concussion in Oct. 2011 when a stick struck him in the head. Pronger’s cap space was traded to the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday.
These three were considered locks. Housley was not. But the defenseman had a lot of momentum heading into the committee vote.
He is third in all-time career points by an American born player with 1,232 behind Brett Hull and Mike Modano, having played 1,495 games in the NHL. He’s considered one of the best offensive defensemen to have ever played the game, spending 21 seasons in the League, most of them with the Buffalo Sabres.
But a lack of awards and a Stanley Cup ring are significant drawbacks, as were knocks about his all-around game. But it’s hard to argue that after Lidstrom and Pronger, he wasn’t the next most-deserving defenseman.
Sitting on the outside looking in, again: Eric Lindros, Mark Recchi, Dave Andreychuk and Jeremy Roenick.
As for Ruggiero, she won a gold and two silvers for the U.S. women’s hockey team at the Olympics, as well as four world championships. She’s one of the most inspiring figures in the history of women’s hockey in the U.S., whose 13-year playing career served as motivation for subsequent generations of players.
On Jan, 28, 2005, she also became the first woman skater to actively play in a pro hockey league during the regular season, suiting up for the Tulsa Oilers in the Central Hockey League.
In the Builder Category, Bill Hay and Peter Karmanos Jr. were elected.
The first NCAA graduate to play in the National Hockey League, Bill Hay’s contributions to hockey span from grassroots to the professional level. His distinguished hockey resume includes contributions made while serving as President and Chief Operating Officer of Hockey Canada, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Calgary Flames, and most recently as Chairman of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Peter Karmanos Jr. has helped enable the success of dozens of American hockey teams and thousands of players. The Detroit native captured a Stanley Cup as Chief Executive Officer, Owner and Governor of the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006.
He's also the reason the Whalers left Hartford. Hopefully the play "Brass Bonanza" during his induction.
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