Wed Dec 18 10:47am EST
Sometimes I get asked where I’d like to see the NHL place an expansion franchise, and I have both delusional and practical answers.
From a practical standpoint, the NHL should place teams in Seattle – geographically and demographically advantageous – and a second team in Toronto, which will be an ATM for league revenues. From a delusional standpoint, my answer is always Bora Bora.
Putting an NHL team in Las Vegas, however, has a little practical and a dash of delusional. Bob McKenzie of TSN offered this tantalizing tidbit this week on expansion:
McKenzie: The NHL party line hasn't changed. There are no formal plans for expansion but if they expand and everyone assumes at some point, they're going to, the common knowledge is that Seattle is the primary target in the Pacific Northwest. The strong sense I'm getting now is that Las Vegas is second on that list behind Seattle and the NHL wants to be the first major professional sports league to put a franchise in Las Vegas.
People in Quebec City may be saying, 'Hey, what about us?' Well, keep in mind, there's no rule that says if they expand, that they only expand by two teams. The possibility of expanding by three teams, with Quebec City being one of them, is at least something that will be considered. There's lots of money in expansion; over $300 million per franchise, close to a $1 billion windfall that isn't shared with the players or anyone else, just the owners.
The NHL obviously has some relationships built in Vegas through having the NHL Awards there, and would find no shortage of interested minority owners on the West Coast.
It’s interesting that the NHL is into being the first “big four” league in the market. The League had the same chance in Oklahoma City, but passed on that opportunity in the 1990s. Then the Sonics relocated there, and the Thunder became a huge sensation and cash cow. Whoops.
From Steve Whyno of the Canadian Press, on the Vegas prospects:
There isn't much of a hockey tradition in the Nevada desert, but Las Vegas does have the ECHL's Wranglers and previously an International Hockey League franchise. The Wranglers play at Orleans Arena, which seats under 8,000 for hockey and wouldn't be a possibility. Thomas & Mack Center, which houses UNLV college basketball, could be a very short-term fix.
Plans for a new, 20,000-seat arena in Paradise, Nevada, have been discussed for several years, but nothing has been made official. Given the money in the market, getting a facility up and working in a short period of time is the least of concerns for Las Vegas.
Ownership would be vital, and the Maloof family, which sold the NBA's Sacramento Kings earlier this year, could be in the discussion. Joe and Gavin Maloof have looked into bringing an NHL team to Las Vegas and even met with Bettman to discuss it, according to an April report in the Sacramento Bee.
My main concern, shared by the Vegas locals I’ve spoken to about expansion, has always been about the entertainment dollar. The games are at night, competing with every conceivable entertainment option. It’s a 24-hour job cycle, too: How many fans are working when the games are being played too?
That said, the idea that an NHL team could be part of an overall package for snow bird tourists – two nights, a free buffet and a game against the Oilers! – could be an interesting work around foundational fan support.
What say you to the NHL in Vegas?
Wed Dec 18 09:44am EST
[Author's note: Every sports website on earth dedicated to covering just one league publishes a weekly power ranking, and we here at Puck Daddy have finally decided to do the same. However, the problem with power rankings in general is that they are usually three things: Bad, wrong, and boring. You typically know just as well as the authors which teams won what games against who and what it all means, so our moving the Red Wings up four spots or whatever really doesn't tell you anything you didn't know. Who's hot, who's not, who cares? For this reason, we're doing a power ranking of things that are usually not teams. You'll see what I mean.]
6. Contracts Signed This Summer
We're now deep enough into the season that it's fair to start evaluating some of the big contracts signed this summer and boy oh boy are there some absolute stinkers. And because no team wants to be the one that signed the worst contract, there's bound to be a lot of discussion about exactly who messed up instead.
You might want to start with the logical choice: The reigning Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks. It's not because any deal they signed this summer was more egregious than the others in the conversation (which, again, there are many), it's because there were two of them. Corey Crawford and Bryan Bickell both got big raises because they played well in the playoffs, and both have promptly returned to sucking pretty hard once they got their nice, fat raises.
Crawford's — $6 million against the cap for the next six years — hasn't even kicked in yet and he's got a save percentage six points below his already below-mediocre career average. This isn't an accident. Bickell, meanwhile, put up 17 points in the postseason last year, including two game-winners, and got bumped up to four years and $16 million. So far in 22 games this year, he's got five goals and an assist, and that's with having shot 14.3 percent.
Fortunately for Stan Bowman, Dave Nonis isn't about to take this kind of thing lying down, and that David Clarkson deal is looking worse by the day. Yeah, he'll be making $5.25 million against the cap for the next seven (SEVEN!) years, and he might even be able to keep more than two-thirds of that if he can stop being suspended for five minutes. He's already been banned for 12 of the first 35 games of his Leafs career, and even when he's in the lineup, he's been flat out awful. Two goals and four assists in 24 games. Leafs fans are already turning on him.
Not that they're wrong, mind you. Even if he surges in the latter 50 or so games, this is an awful start; does he even get into the double digits?
But not even Nonis was outdone by a guy widely and repeatedly hailed as one of the finest general managers in the league, who gave out a contract so bad Rick DiPietro is spinning in his retirement home. Ken Holland's decision to give Stephen Weiss five years and $24.5 million seemed a curious one even by the usual “well he's one of the better free agent centers on the market” standards. He almost certainly already regrets the decision. In 26 games, the 30-year-old Weiss has just 2-2-4 and is getting less than 15 minutes a night. That deal sucks now. It's going to be a disaster in two years.
At least the cap is going up, though, right?
Wed Dec 18 01:03am EST
Youppi wants in the game, I think.
No. 1 Star: Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins
Chara had a game-high 5 shots on goal, two of which went into the net. It was all the offence the Bruins would need in a 2-0 win over the Calgary Flames, in large part because Chara's such a force at the other end.
No. 2 Star: Valteri Filppula, Tampa Bay Lightning
Filpulla scored a shootout goal in the Lightning's comeback 3-2 win over the New York Islanders, but he was also the only reason they were there. He scored twice late in the third period to send the game to overtime, including his second of the night with four seconds remaining in regulation:
Defense: the Islanders are doing it wrong.
Tue Dec 17 09:58pm EST
Earlier this evening, we looked at Kyle Quincey's hit from behind on Ryan Getzlaf, which seems likely to draw some attention, and maybe a suspension, from the Department of Player Safety.
That is, unless Quincey's hit is overshadowed by this arguably worse hit from behind courtesy Tom Wilson of the Washington Capitals on Brayden Schenn of the Philadelphia Flyers:
Schenn left with a likely concussion, which makes sense, because… good Lord.
Wilson was given a five-minute major for charging, and a game misconduct, as well as another five minutes for fighting. And he'll get more once the Shanahammer comes down.
Here's the thing: Schenn turns as Wilson approaches, and that's bound to be a divisive, and potentially mitigating factor. But I'll bet you that Wilson could have adjusted to this sudden movement and made a clean, shoulder-to-shoulder hit instead of boarding the Hell out of him if he wasn't traveling at warp speed. Seriously, it's a wonder he didn't enter hyperspace.
This is a dangerous, reckless charge, and there's really no excuse for it. Wilson's going to miss time. On the bright side, if he can go this fast, it's possible he can reach 88 miles per hour and travel back in time to this afternoon. Then maybe he can warn himself that the hit he throws on Brayden Schenn in tonight's game is a stupid idea.
Tue Dec 17 09:31pm EST
Ryan Getzlaf came into Tuesday night riding a 16-game point streak, and considering his Ducks have collected points in 14 of of those 16, I think it's safe to say he's been a pretty important part of their success of late.
That in mind, this hit, which saw Kyle Quincey shove him headfirst into the end boards at Joe Louis Arena, had to be pretty scary for an Anaheim fan. Or anyone else for that matter:
Getzlaf left the game bleeding from the mouth, but he did return.
Quincey left the game as well, handed a five-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct for this hit. Will that be all, or will he miss a few more?
There's certainly precedent. Corey Potter was suspended for a similar hit on Nick Bonino just yesterday, on what the league determined a shove "a dangerous distance from the boards". This one looks a lot like that. Unless the league decides Getzlaf caught an edge or was in the process of a reverse hit that simply went awry, one assumes Quincey will miss a game or two for this one.
Tue Dec 17 06:57pm EST
Here is the Puck Daddy Viewing Guide: Spotlighting five things to watch for during tonight's slate of games. Make sure to stop back here for the nightly Three Stars when the games are finished.
Create-a-Caption: "Brad Marchand #63 of the Boston Bruins pretends to carry the Stanley Cup during their NHL game against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena."
• • •
Preview: Calgary Flames at Boston Bruins, 7 p.m. ET
Preview: Winnipeg Jets at Buffalo Sabres, 7 p.m. ET
Preview: Tampa Bay Lightning at New York Islanders, 7 p.m. ET
Preview: Florida Panthers at Toronto Maple Leafs, 7 p.m. ET
Preview: Anaheim Ducks at Detroit Red Wings, 7:30 p.m. ET
Preview: Phoenix Coyotes at Montreal Canadiens, 7:30 p.m. ET
Preview: Washington Capitals at Philadelphia Flyers, 7:30 p.m. ET
Preview: San Jose Sharks at ASt. Louis Blues, 8 p.m. ET
Preview: Chicago Blackhawks at Nashville Predators, 8 p.m. ET
Preview: Vancouver Canucks at Minnesota Wild, 8 p.m. ET
Preview: Colorado Avalanche at Dallas Stars, 8:30 p.m. ET
Preview: Edmonton Oilers at Los Angeles Kings, 10:30 p.m. ET
• • •
Five things to know about tonight's NHL games ...
1. Luongo hopes to… wait for it.. Xcel. The Canucks' netminder has had his struggles in Minnesota in recent years. If John Tortorella and Luongo have their way, however, that ends tonight. From the Star Tribune:
He is 3-9-2 with a 3.56 goals-against average and .873 save percentage at the X, and that includes a 0-0 tie in his first-ever start at the X with Florida in 2000. Luongo has been pulled in his past three starts here and has just had such struggles here that former Van. coach Alain Vigneault didn't play him in Minnesota since Oct. 19, 2010. Luongo joked yesterday to ask AV if he was playing.
“He’s going to exorcise that demon, I guess, if that’s what everybody thinks this is,” Canucks coach John Tortorella said. “He’s a pro. He needs to play.”
This will also be Luongo's third game in four nights. If fatigue sets in, it's going to do wonders for this narrative.
2. Sharks bite. San Jose has lost four straight, and 5 of their last 6. But maybe the Blues will be the cure for what ails them? Most teams have trouble versus St. Louis, but the Sharks have made Ken Hitchcock's boys look downright silly this year, with 6-2 and 6-3 wins. Can they end their losing streak by sweeping the season series?
3. Silent G returns. Cody Hodgson, Buffalo's leading scorer, is back versus the Jets after missing the last two games with a lower-body injury.
4. Panthers are swaggy. The Panthers go into Toronto feeling pretty good about the way they're playing. They've won 5 of 6 and their last 3. "We're finally starting to feel confident and, so to speak, play with a little swagger," said Scottie Upshall.
5. Joe Blow. The Red Wings have been pretty mediocre at Joe Louis Arena of late, and now they're on the verge of losing five straight at home for the first time in nearly three decades, as well as six straight overall. Their main problem: they're not scoring.
Bold Prediction: Panthers win again, and their swagger increases.
Tue Dec 17 05:32pm EST
Hindsight is 20/20, right? Lets all point and laugh at the mistakes made by others in 2013.
10. Setting the execution date of the Hockey Night in Canada brand
In the 1994 movie North, the title character played by Elijah Wood is tasked with finding new parents because he doesn't like the one he has. There is a scene where North is with the Inuits and they're performing a rite of passage - putting their elderly on slabs of ice and shoving them off to die in the Artic. (Movie rated PG!) This is what Rogers has done with the Hockey Night in Canada brand.
As part of the $5.2-billion agreement effective next year, the CBC will give up almost everything related to the Hockey Night in Canada brand except for airing it on their channels. The partnership between the CBC and Rogers is for four years; meaning the 65th season of HNIC is likely to be its last.
The iconic institution has been put on a small glacier and we're all watching it melt. No word yet if Don Cherry gets a separate sheet of ice.
Much ado was made about Tomas Hertl's four goals in one game and his celebration. Many thought it was funny; others found it disrespectful. Joe Thornton found it ... arousing?
The mistake isn't that Thornton made a comment some found to have crossed the line of decency. The mistake is it being reported on to the general public by Jason Botchford of The Province.
Joe's off-the-cuff remark to a conversation he wasn't directly involved in at the time happened in the Sharks locker room. The locker room has always been a safe-zone for players. As an implied, unwritten rule passed on by writers for generations, unless a player is talking directly to a reporter (or scrum of reporters) what's said in the locker room is kept behind closed doors. Botchford didn't follow the rule and unleashed a chicken coop amount of undue criticism on an already stupid discussion.
With players feeling as if they need to keep their guard up all the time, it's going to be even more difficult to get non-generic answers from guys who can be kind of boring to begin with.
8. Assuming Roberto Luongo would be anywhere BUT Vancouver to start the 2013-2014 season
Prior to the 2013 entry draft, anyone who knew anything about the NHL would have told you there was no possible way Roberto Luongo would be in Vancouver. Even Luongo himself thought he wouldn't be in Vancouver. He was put through the ringer in the 2013 season. It would be just plain mean to keep him there, right?
Apparently to Mike Gillis, not so much.
Luongo, likely held back by his massive contract with 600 years left on it, was the goaltender that was kept by the Canucks as Cory Schneider was shipped off to New Jersey.
I'd like to congratulate Eddie Lack in advance on his eventual trade to New Jersey to back up Cory Schneider.
7. Using your first round draft pick in your fantasy league on a top-tier goaltender only to get screwed by some random goalies you've never heard of.
Jonathan Quick - injured
Jimmy Howard - injured
Craig Anderson - not good
Pekka Rinne - has E. COLI!!!
Henrik Lundqvist - meh
Corey Crawford - injured
Sergei Bobrovsky - injured
Don't tell me you knew Martin Jones was going to be great or that Ben Scrivens is the better goalie in the Scrivens-for-Bernier swap. How about Frederik Andersen? He's 8-1 and can only crack the Ducks roster because of an injury to Viktor Fasth. And really, Curtis McElhinney is better than Marek Mazanec?? WHO THE HELL IS MAREK MAZANEC?!
[Author's note: I'm not saying I did this in both my leagues...]
6. The Metropolitan division
5. The Montreal Canadiens giving PK Subban a two-year, $5.75-million total deal.
PK missed training camp and four games of the shortened-2013 regular season because of a contract dispute. Subban didn't have much leverage at the time to get a blockbuster deal so he did what every young, unproven defenseman does - goes out and wins a Norris Trophy.
So what if he is a bit moody, puts ice-time grievances to song and might be left off of Team Canada's roster for the Olympics?! Teams will fork out the cash for a young, Norris trophy-winning defenseman no matter what kind of baggage he might carry with him.
How do you say 'kiss my ass and show me the money' in French?
4. Using George Parros' first fight (and subsequent concussion) of the 2013-2014 season as the key example for the anti-fighting stance.
Just don't. It was gravity doing its thing.
3. Everything Tyler Seguin did before he got to Dallas
You're a good looking kid in your early 20's making millions of dollars in one of the most fun cities on earth, what else are you going to do? Can you really blame the guy for wanting to have a lot of a little fun?
It's not like he's gone full Kaner, anyway! Punching a cabbie? Nope! Photographed in bed asleep and your airplane ticket to prove your identity by a floozie you just hooked up with? No way! Did your boss (allegedly) make your mom chaperone you on your overseas lockout playing adventure? Well no, not that specific. It wasn't his mom but it was a guard. And it wasn't an adventure, it was the playoffs.
Seguin has settled in nicely with the Stars becoming a scary-good tandem with Jamie Benn. No Mike Ribero-esque Dallas incidents reported thus far, so I guess that's a positive sign?
2. GM/Owner giving coach his full support (a.k.a. 'The Kiss of Death")
During a tough stretch in the season or a slow start, the worst thing a coach could hear from his owner or GM is a ringing endorsement. There were 10 coaches fired in 2013, seven of whom received the seals of approval from their GM and/or owner prior to getting canned.
Congrats to Kevin Dineen, formerly of the Florida Panthers, for being lied to for the shortest amount of time - three days!
Lindy Ruff (Buffalo Sabres): Vote of Confidence on February 7th, Fired on February 20th
Guy Boucher (Tampa Bay Lightning): Vote of Confidence on March 3rd, Fired on March 24th
Ralph Krueger (Edmonton Oilers): Vote of Neutrality (new GM) on April 14th, Fired August 6th
Glen Gulutzan (Dallas Stars): Vote of Neutrality (new GM) on April 29th, Fired on May 14th
Peter Laviolette (Philadelphia Flyers): Vote of Confidence on September 13th, Fired on October 7th
Kevin Dineen (Florida Panthers): Vote of Confidence on November 5th, Fired on November 8th
Ron Rolston (Buffalo Sabres): Vote of Confidence on September 26th, Fired on November 13th
I couldn't find Glen Sather directly endorsing John Tortorella (fired May 29th) - shocking. The last time Mike Gillis publicly supported Alain Vigneault was in 2012 (fired May 22nd); same thing for Greg Sherman and Joe Sacco (fired April 28th).
1. Allowing the lockout to go until 2013
What were you doing this time last year? Spending too much time with your friends and family? Being productive at your job? Behaving like a civilized member of society? Disgusting.
The NHL lockout lasted until January 6, 2013. We all wanted to punish the NHL, the owners and the NHLPA for the misery they inflicted on us for so long but we just couldn't stay away; the action we get is just too good.
Tue Dec 17 04:56pm EST
If you missed the first episode of “HBO 24/7 Red Wings-Maple Leafs: Road To The NHL Winter Classic," you missed Randy Carlyle's struggle with a toaster over; Dion Phaneuf's wardrobe; Jimmy Howard's pre-game mental exercises; and tons of screen time for Stephen Weiss.
Our review of Episode 1 was that it was "meh," and we're such fanboys of the series that the Episode 2, premiering Saturday night at 10 p.m. ET on HBO and 7:30 p.m. ET Sunday for our Canadian friends with Sportsnet, has us hoping this was just setting up for big things to come.
Thanks to HBO, here's a censored Episode 1 in its entirety. Sorry Canada, they've made this video U.S.-only.
Be sure to enhance your viewing experience with the Puck Daddy 24/7 Drinking Game.
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Tue Dec 17 02:37pm EST
Here are your Puck Headlines: a glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media.
• Even World War Z Brad Pitt supports Marc Methot's presidential candidacy.
• On Ryan Kesler's unfinished business now that he's healthy and productive again. [ESPN]
• The David Clarkson era in Toronto has gone so well that he's already being compared to Larry Murphy. [The Star]
• If you're waiting for Robert Bortuzzo to have a hearing for his hit to the head of Jerry D'Amigo Monday night, you should stop. The Department of Player Safety has ruled it "unavoidable head contact." [@NHLPlayerSafety]
• Really, really, really, really good news in Paul Henderson's battle against cancer. [Ottawa Sun]
• Sounds like Bryan Murray will soon sign an extension to continue GM'ing the Ottawa Senators. [6th Sens]
Tue Dec 17 01:50pm EST
It's a Tuesday edition of Marek vs. Wyshynski beginning at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT, and we're talking about the following and more: unappealing
Special Guest Star: Eric Stephens, Anaheim Ducks writer for the OC Register, breaks down the West.
• More Shawn Thornton analysis, fallout.
• The Sharks and Bruins bring holiday cheer.
• Looking at the scoring races.
• Hockey with accents.
• NHL news and notes.
Click here for the Sportsnet live stream or click the play button above! Click here to download podcasts from the show each day. Subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or Feedburner.