Posts Tagged ‘NHL Relocation’

The ghosts of Thrashers past have been quieted.

Down 2-1 early in the third period of Game 1 of a first-round series against the Minnesota Wild, the Winnipeg Jets scored twice and held off a late push from the opposition, winning their first playoff game in franchise history.

That dates back to the Atlanta days, of course, when the franchise played as the Thrashers and made one postseason appearance in 11 seasons, which resulted in a four-game sweep at the hands of the New York Rangers.

After moving to Winnipeg and adopting the Jets nickname in 2011, the club qualified for the playoffs once prior to this year, again resulting in four losses, this time against the Anaheim Ducks.

These aren’t those Jets, though, and the team that finished second overall in the NHL standings this season with 114 points has its sights set on bringing the Stanley Cup to Winnipeg for the first time in modern history.

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If the Carolina Hurricanes are serious about embracing their Whalers heritage, Connecticut governor Dannel P. Malloy wants Hartford to be part of it.

New ‘Canes owner Tom Dundon has stated he wants the team to start donning Whalers gear on occasion, and Hartford jerseys are now available to purchase at Carolina home games.

Malloy took it to another level Friday by officially inviting the Hurricanes to return to Hartford and play a regular-season outdoor game at Rentschler Field.

“As you are no doubt aware, Whalers fandom remains strong in Connecticut and throughout the region,” Malloy wrote to Dundon. “Nearly 20 years after the team left, Whalers gear remains the top-seller among non-current NHL teams, and the Whalers Brigade continues to host a successful radio program.”

Malloy goes on to suggest games could be played at XL Center, and even argues Dundon might just like what he sees in regards to a new permanent home.

“I am convinced that the Hurricanes’ reception in Connecticut – combined with our prime market dynamics – would make clear that Hartford is a far more viable long-term home for the team than Raleigh.”

Eugene Melnyk is reiterating his commitment to Ottawa and the Senators more than a month after suggesting he’d relocate the franchise rather than sell it.

“Whatever was said in December, it’s unfortunate that it hit a real nerve in Ottawa,” Melnyk said on told CTV’s “Your Morning” on Wednesday, per TSN. “The reality is I love the city, I love the people, I love the fans and it’s actually my privilege to be there and to ice a team like the Ottawa Senators.”

Prior to the NHL100 Classic in Ottawa last month, Melnyk was asked about potentially selling the club, saying, “Imagine if you own a McDonald’s franchise. But you can move it. Why would you sell it? It’s something that’s very difficult to buy. We’re doing OK here. Nothing great, but we’re doing OK.”

In addition to saying it’s a privilege to own the club, Melnyk added he believes a new arena closer to downtown will greatly benefit both Ottawa and the Senators, and that the goal remains winning the Stanley Cup despite a poor showing on the ice so far this season.

“I just want to make sure people have their heads held high and are proud of the Ottawa Senators,” he said.

The New York Islanders are returning to familiar territory.

On Monday, the club announced it will play 12 home games at Nassau Coliseum next season, with the remainder to be played at Barclays Center, its current home in Brooklyn.

The 2019-20 season will then see the Islanders split their home schedule between the two arenas.

The Islanders previously played out of Nassau Coliseum between their formation in 1972 and their move to Brooklyn in 2015.

However, a host of issues at Barclays Center, including poor ice conditions and a section of seating that offered obstructed views – in addition to a hard-to-reach arena for fans coming from Nassau County – left the team searching for a new home.

In December, the team’s bid was selected to build an arena in Belmont Park, about eight miles west of Nassau Coliseum. The hope is that it will be ready in time for the 2021-22 season.

Nassau Coliseum has undergone extensive renovations since the Islanders left, which reduced seating capacity to 13,000, but the old barn appears to be a temporary solution as the team awaits its new home.

Now there’s something worthy of cuing up “Brass Bonanza.”

The state of Connecticut has unveiled a new license plate design that features the iconic Hartford Whalers logo, 21 years after the team left.

The franchise relocated to Raleigh and now plays as the Carolina Hurricanes, but passion for the Whalers never left Hartford.

“I ask the Whalers fans to get out there and purchase those license plates because maybe then they will come back,” said Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, according to the Associated Press.

“We’ll keep hoping. It was two decades ago that we lost on the Whalers, but in our hearts we have not.”

The plates start at $60, and $45 from each sale will go toward a new infusion and dialysis center at the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.

It’s not the first time Connecticut has pushed for the NHL to return in some form. Last February, Gov. Dannel Malloy invited the New York Islanders to play out of the XL Center (the Whalers’ former home) when it seemed they had run out of options for a new arena in New York.

The state has also discussed a $250-million renovation to the XL Center, which opened in 1975, to bring it up to modern standards in an effort to lure the NHL back.

The Senators are in the initial stages of a move to downtown Ottawa.

On Thursday, the National Capital Commission announced it has signed an agreement in principle with RendezVous LeBreton for the redevelopment of LeBreton Flats, a downtown Ottawa neighborhood where the hockey team wants to build a new arena.

The Senators currently play out of the Canadian Tire Centre in suburban Kanata. The hope is that a move to a more accessible arena in the downtown core will improve attendance figures.

A joint venture between Trinity Development and the Senators, RendezVous LeBreton now holds exclusive negotiation rights as it works toward a master agreement with the National Capital Commission. That process could take more than one year, reports Postmedia’s Bruce Garrioch.

Senators owner Eugene Melnyk, on hand for Thursday’s announcement, said in a statement, “(I am) thrilled to move one step closer to bringing fans a more enjoyable experience.”

The New York Islanders are apparently nearing an agreement to play some regular-season games in their old barn while the new one is being built.

Two sources familiar with the situation told Newsday’s Jim Baumbach that the Islanders are closing in on a deal to play a mix of games at Nassau Coliseum and Barclays Center in the years leading up to the opening of the new facility at Belmont Park.

It’s not yet clear how the games would be split, but the earliest the Belmont Park arena would be ready is the 2021-22 season, which means the club would need to figure out a temporary solution for three full seasons after this one.

The Islanders are negotiating with Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, which owns both their current and former homes, and have a deadline of Jan. 30 to opt out of their deal at Barclays Center.

They won the bid to redevelop Belmont Park in December. Earlier this month, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said he was open to the possibility of the Islanders playing some games at the Coliseum in the years before their new arena is ready.

Nassau Coliseum recently underwent a $165-million renovation.

The Islanders left it for Barclays Center in Brooklyn in 2015-16, but have had a host of issues in the new building since, from complaints about sight lines and the iceconditions to the piping system reportedly not meeting NHL standards.