Archive for the ‘NHL’ Category

The dreary, hapless, flat-out miserable Arizona Coyotes 2017-18 season has earned a dubious place in the history books, as the basement-dwelling Desert Dogs became the first team in the NHL’s 100-year history to be held without a regulation win through their first 20 games, per Sportsnet Stats.

Tuesday’s 4-1 defeat at the hands of the Winnipeg Jets dropped the Coyotes to 2-15-3, putting the club on pace for 28 points, which is shockingly terrible, considering last season’s 30th-place Colorado Avalanche managed to earn 48 in a year when absolutely everything went wrong.

Entering Tuesday, Arizona ranked 25th in goals for (44), 31st in goals against (74), and 30th in save percentage at 5-on-5 (.903). The poor results are particularly disappointing considering the Coyotes were labeled as a team ready to improve this season under the guidance of new head coach Rick Tocchet.

The good news, at least, is Rasmus Dahlin, the consensus No. 1 pick in next June’s draft, could make this season’s struggles worth it in the end.

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NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is believed to have recently met with Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta to discuss the viability of a team in that city, according to Katie Strang of The Athletic.

The meeting reportedly took place within the past few weeks, although Bettman would not confirm when contacted by The Athletic.

He did say the league is not looking to relocate any teams at the moment, but added a caveat in regards to Houston.

“If Houston were to express an interest in having an NHL franchise, under the right circumstances, it’s something we might want to consider,” he said.

Fertitta purchased the NBA team back in September for a reported $2.2 billion, and has expressed a strong interest in bringing an NHL club to Houston.

The Rockets play at the Toyota Center, which opened in 2003 and can hold 17,800 when fitted for a rink.

The Montreal Canadiens claimed goaltender Antti Niemi off waivers Tuesday, the team announced.

The Habs are Niemi’s third team of the 2017-18 campaign. He signed a one-year deal with the Penguins in the offseason, but was placed on waivers after just three games. He then had a two-game stint with the Panthers before being placed on waivers again.

His numbers this season aren’t pretty. He owns a record of 0-4-0 with a 6.74 goals-against average and an .822 save percentage.

The move is the result of injuries to both Carey Price and Al Montoya. With Charlie Lindgren shining in the Habs’ crease, though, it’s doubtful Niemi will see much time in the net.

If Niemi does appear in a game for the Canadiens, he’ll tie the NHL record for the most teams played for in one season by a goalie, per TSN’s Kevin Gibson.

Vadim Shipachyov is happy to be home.

A one-time prized free-agent signing by the expansion Vegas Golden Knights, the Russian forward retired from the NHL on Thursday after his short stint in North America barely got off the ground.

“The promises which I was given in America didn’t come off, but everything works out for the best,” Shipachyov told the KHL. “A lot of other SKA players who are here now have gone down this route, it’s probably the correct strategy.

“Now I know that Russian players should think 10 times before leaving for abroad, it’s different from what the clubs and agents tell you.”

In all, Shipachyov suited up for three games with the Golden Knights, picking up one point. He was later assigned to the Chicago Wolves, but refused to suit up for the minor-league team, and instead opted for a return to Russia.

On Saturday, Shipachyov inked a one-year deal with the KHL’s St. Petersburg SKA, where he played the past four seasons prior to drawing NHL interest.

St. Petersburg is the defending Gagarin Cup champion whose lineup includes former NHLers Ilya Kovalchuk and Pavel Datsyuk. Shipachyov was a part of last year’s championship squad, as he was in 2015, and his return could further spark the first-place KHL club that has won 23 of its 31 games.

Shipachyov, 30, finished second in SKA scoring last season – just two points behind Kovalchuk – tallying 76 points in 50 games. He is disappointed he couldn’t replicate that success in the NHL, but is happy to be back in familiar surroundings.

“Before the season’s start, I was told by the general manager that they need to send a player to the AHL, and I am that man,” Shipachyov stated. “He said for me to help them in order to trade defensemen, and then I will make my debut.

“Face to face I was told one thing, but when it came to hockey, the story changed … However, even a negative experience helps you appreciate how things worked in St. Petersburg.”

The Vancouver Canucks hope to put pen to paper with the man in charge.

Through 16 games this season, the Canucks have an 8-6-2 record and 18 points, good for third place in the Pacific. That performance seems to sit well with owner Francesco Aquilini, and could mean rewarding general manager Jim Benning with a contract extension.

“I’m optimistic we’re going to come to an agreement with him,” Aquilini told Sportsnet 650, per Ed Willes of The Province.

Following a campaign in which the Canucks finished with the league’s second-worst showing – ahead of only the Colorado Avalanche – it’s been a year of renewal in Vancouver.

Rookie Brock Boeser leads the team in scoring, while the Canucks are also getting key contributions from offseason additions Thomas Vanek, Michael Del Zotto, and goaltender Anders Nilsson, among others.

As for Benning, who entered the season in the final year of his contract, he remains focused on the task at hand.

“I’m more concerned about trying to change the culture of the group. Since I took the job, we’ve been trying to rebuild the organization,” Benning said. “It’s something that doesn’t happen overnight. Kids take time.”

Benning was named Canucks GM in April 2014, following a seven-year run as assistant GM of the Boston Bruins.

Vadim Shipachyov had the chance to extend his NHL career, but ultimately elected to return to Russia.

Vegas Golden Knights general manager George McPhee confirmed Shipachyov’s retirement from the NHL on Thursday, while noting Vegas had worked out a trade that would have sent the Russian to another NHL club, but he didn’t want to go to another team, according to NHL.com’s Danny Webster.

“We wanted to work with him, but he wanted to go home,” McPhee said.

Shipachyov tallied one goal in the only three games he played with the Golden Knights after agreeing to a two-year, $9-million contract during the offseason.

 
 

Matt Duchene shed some light on why he requested a trade from the Colorado Avalanche last December.

With the Avalanche mired in a historically awful season at the time, Duchene – who was dealt to the Ottawa Senators on Sunday – saw signs that general manager Joe Sakic was leading the club into a retooling phase. Having been down that road before, the now 26-year-old wasn’t willing to spend his prime years not seriously competing for the Stanley Cup.

As a result, Duchene made the request to management, which he called “the hardest thing I ever had to do” at an introductory press conference in Ottawa on Monday.

“I wanted to play playoff hockey” he explained, per Bruce Garrioch of Postmedia. “I’ve got eight playoff games to my name right now and that’s not where I want to be at this point of my career. I only get one shot at this. I get to play this game for however long my body lets me play it and I felt I wanted to let Joe know it was time to move on.”

Duchene was a Colorado fan as a kid, and dreamed of winning the Cup with the Avalanche. His 586 regular-season games with the franchise only translated into two trips to the playoffs, however, wherein he recorded six assists in eight games.

The Senators came within a goal of advancing to the Stanley Cup Final last season and certainly hope Duchene will add to his postseason totals with the club.