August 22, 2011
Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend's events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.
At this point, the Phoenix Coyotes are like the house in a cartoon neighborhood where an old person lives alone. All the potential buyers approach nervously, and run for the hills at the slightest sign of trouble, convinced that Crazy Old Man Bettman's house is haunted.
The League has been trying to engineer a deal, any deal, that would allow it to sell the Coyotes to an investor, any investor, for what feels like 100 years at this point. Try doing a search for "potential buyers Phoenix Coyotes" and prepare to be inundated with a list of pie-in-the-sky suitors as long as Martin Hanzal's(notes) wingspan.
Balsillie, Ice Edge, Hulsizer, True North, Stotland. With the exception of Balsillie, all came, lifted a few rocks, didn't like what they saw for one reason or another and once again left the NHL holding a very expensive bag.
And now there's this new guy, former Sharks CEO Greg Jamison, who has an investment group together that could buy the team without selling bonds. Essentially, that means the group is actually going to pony up their own money to purchase the team; which, given all that's gone on in recent years, seems unbelievable and crazy.
Someone wake me up when the team actually gets sold. I don't care if it's to a Mexican drug cartel at this point.
It's all just a little tiring, y'know? The breathless reports of a new potential suitor seem to flare up every three months or so at this point, then go quiet, then are revealed to have fallen through.
Clearly, there are reasons a deal can't simply happen in Glendale, where the city, ultra-conservative think tanks and the NHL all seem almost eager to step on any potential deal before it can get done.
(Coming Up: Matt Cooke's(notes) minor league baseball adventure; Claude Julien gets a down grade; Jaromir Jagr's(notes) lottery ties; Matthew Hulsizer and the Blues; Landeskog and the Calder; Panthers ticket mess; Liles and the Leafs; in praise of Drury and Eddie Iron Madien; and how one coffee shop is battling back against the Vancouver rioters.)
All acknowledge the lack of viable ownership is a problem, but none seem necessarily willing to sort it out. At least not expediently. The team has been taking money from the League to continue operations since at least late 2008, has been bankrupt since mid-2009 and owned by the NHL since later that year. That means we're closing in on three years of serious ownership trouble, and it's almost inconceivable that a slew of other teams can get sold in that time, all the while the league or the city or the Goldwater Institute runs potential Coyotes buyers off with pitchforks and torches.
It's not often you'll hear this sentence, but here goes: The Atlanta Thrashers really are the model here.
Wow! The sale of an NHL team wasn't needlessly protracted. How terribly novel. How wonderfully refreshing.
We've seen that a winning hockey team will at least draw fans in Phoenix at the end of the season, but only then. If all involved are really concerned about putting the franchise on solid footing, and keeping it in Arizona, so that it's an attractive destination for free agents and they don't have to enter the season hoping Jason LaBarbera(notes) and Mike Smith(notes) can help them between the pipes, getting good, solid ownership in place would go a long way toward that goal.
It'd be really nice if it happened sometime soon, if only so we can stop hearing about it almost happening.
What We Learned
Buffalo Sabres: Terry Pegula says the Sabres don't have to win now. (Hell, they have six more years with Ville Leino(notes) aboard!) But try telling their fans that. "If we come out of the chute 0-9 this year, everybody is going to be going skitzoid," Pegula said. "But you gotta believe you're not an 0-9 team, and it will get better." Oh man, please start the season 0-9.
Calgary Flames: Flames fans, like seemingly everyone else in the league, are mad about the number of their team's games on national TV. "I think that all Canadian teams should have an equal and fair number of games on television," said Flames fan Leslie Scott. Hey Leslie that's socialism!
Carolina Hurricanes: Good for all those guys on the 2002 Hurricanes, making names for themselves behind benches across the league. You'll best remember them as the team that used Arturs Irbe to push the Red Wings to the brink of elimination in Game 1 of the Cup Finals.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Speaking of Johansen, he will be one of three Blue Jackets on hand at the team's Select-A-Seat next Saturday, where fans can get their pictures taken with a Zamboni. Boy if that doesn't just scream excitement, huh? A real Zamboni! Wow.
Detroit Red Wings: Darren Helm(notes) is integral to the Red Wings penalty kill, which was 17th in the league last season. But that's okay because he "does a much better job than [that not-good number] indicates." Just like Chris Osgood(notes)!
Florida Panthers: The Panthers have created a new thing called "Club Red" and are forcing current season ticket holders to give up their seats to accommodate it. That's weird, I thought "Club Red" would be the light behind Jose Theodore(notes) this season.
Los Angeles Kings: The Kings signed another former Oiler, and for some reason it was Ethan Moreau(notes) this time around. However, it is nice that the headline says "pending physical," because y'know, that whole thing.
Minnesota Wild: Wes Walz has been calling up Wild season ticket holders and asking them to renew their seats. "But sir, we have Dany Heatley(notes) this year. What's that? No, it's 2011, not 2005. Okay I understand. Sorry to bother you."
Montreal Canadiens: Did you know former Habs Patrice Brisebois(notes) and Marc-Andre Bergeron(notes) are racing in what's effectively some NASCAR minor-league circuit? Can't do too well though. I've seen so many forwards blow their doors off and they weren't even in race cars.
Nashville Predators: The Predators gave $181,000 to the Vanderbilt Children's Hospital over the weekend which is just about the best thing any NHL team has done in awhile. In the past three years, they've donated a total of $425,000. Great stuff.
Philadelphia Flyers: Jaromir Jagr will soon begin appearing on billboards for a Czech lottery and also bought a majority ownership in his hometown club. No wonder he turned down that Penguins offer for more money from the Flyers. Dude's obviously got some serious cash flow issues.
Phoenix Coyotes: Well jeez the Coyotes sure would like to sign Shane Doan(notes) to a new contract before the season starts. Don Maloney thinks he could play another three or four years, which under current NHL norms means they will have to sign him for 15.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Vinny Lecavalier is hosting a poker tournament on Sept. 14, perhaps because the team is really pushing that annoying "All In" slogan as though Texas hold 'em were still popular today. It's not.
Vancouver Canucks: A Vancouver coffee shop has sued 150 people responsible for the riots to cover the cost of reopening and cleaning up and all that. No word on if Roberto Luongo(notes) has been named as a plaintiff. I kid, I kid.
Washington Capitals: Matt Hendricks(notes) and a son of the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall helped make some improvements at a D.C.-area school recently, which is just about one of the oddest pairings to do community service you'll hear about all summer.
Winnipeg Jets: The biggest ups available go to Chris Mason(notes), whose mask with the Jets this year will be the cover of Iron Maiden's single "Aces High." Luckily, the team won't ever be high enough in the standings to find out what happens on the Flight of Icarus.
Gold Star Award
Minus of the Weekend
Hey why not make the nets bigger, says Mike Brophy, who is wrong.
Perfect HFBoards trade proposal of the week
User "hall04" is going there.
I'm a guy like me.