Posts Tagged ‘NHL’

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When the Edmonton Oilers inked forward Zack Kassian to a three-year deal last month, it did a lot more than just secure their bottom-six forward group.

It signified that the 26-year-old has finally turned a page on his battle with alcohol addiction, and in the process revived a career that once looked to be nearing its end, something Kassian credits to Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli.

“It doesn’t happen without Peter Chiarelli, who gave me the opportunity,” Kassian told Jason Gregor of OilersNation.com.

“I told him that day I was going to prove to him he made a right decision and today we’re sitting here with a new contract. I still feel I need to keep proving myself. It doesn’t stop now that I have the new deal. I just need to keep working and proving people right.”

Despite rarely finding the score sheet, Kassian serves as a key contributor for the Oilers, playing with an exuberant edge while occasionally chipping in with a timely goal, assist, or scrap to fire up his team.

In 79 regular-season games last season, Kassian registered seven goals and 17 assists to go along with 201 hits – good for 23rd-most in the NHL.

With his foreseeable future now secure in the City of Champions, Kassian realizes that it’s time to prove that his battle with alcohol is behind him for good.

“For me, I made a promise to my family, to the Edmonton organization, and, most importantly, to myself that I wasn’t going to drink again, and as soon as I made that decision I feel like that’s when everything started climbing back upwards,” Kassian said.

“I feel like if your mindset is you’re not going to drink again, you’re not going to drink again. You make a tough decision and stick with it. I think that’s where I’m at now with it. Obviously, I have a lot to lose, which helps with the team we have in Edmonton.”

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The New Jersey Devils expect Nico Hischier to make an easy transition into the NHL.

This year’s No. 1 pick in the draft is not only expected to jump into the team’s roster as an 18-year-old rookie, but will start at his native position at center and not be eased into the league by playing on the wing, head coach John Hynes said, according to NHL.com’s Mike Morreale.

Hischier tallied 38 goals and 86 points in 57 games with the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL in his first taste of North American hockey. With Travis Zajac, Pavel Zacha, and Brian Boyle allotted as the club’s other three centers, the Devils should be solid down the middle of the ice this season and beyond.

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Phil Kessel knows a thing or two about what it’s like to play in the intense hockey market that is Toronto.

So when the former Maple Leaf and current Penguin returned to the Big Smoke for his offseason workouts with fellow Leaf alum Gary Roberts, Kessel was quick to offer advice to a much-improved Toronto club that will face much higher expectations next season.

“It’s always tougher the second year. There’s a little more pressure,” Kessel told TSN.ca this week. “They got good players there and you never know what happens, but, tough league …

“Every year is different. You never know who’s going to make the playoffs – even the best teams might miss the playoffs.”

The Maple Leafs experienced a complete 180 over the past two seasons. After finishing dead last in 2016, they made the playoffs a year later and took the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Washington Capitals to six games – five of which were decided by sudden-death overtime.

With success comes the pressure to sustain it. Maple Leafs fans are aware of their talented young squad’s potential, and expectations in Toronto are higher than they’ve been since Doug Gilmour rocked the “C.” But opposing NHL clubs have taken notice too.

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A new arena situated on the right side of town is the final piece of the puzzle for the Arizona Coyotes.

That’s the stance of Coyotes’ owner Andrew Barroway, who spoke with Craig Morgan of Arizona Sports in a wide-ranging interview Friday, touching on several topics on a team that has had arguably hockey’s busiest offseason.

Barroway, who assumed full ownership of the Coyotes in June, reiterated his commitment to the Arizona market, noting a new arena is the next big step for the franchise.

“I made the decision to expand my ownership in the Coyotes for a few reasons,” Barroway said. “First, I love this team, I love hockey and I love being here in the Valley. I am a homeowner here. I voted here. We’re committed to Arizona long-term. This is where we want to be.

“We’re not relocating and I have no exit strategy here. My son would never forgive me. He (Jake) is transferring to the University of Michigan to study sports management and the plan is, when he is old enough, he’ll be the future governor (of the team). I’m not flipping it. This is a family enterprise.”

Barroway was on hand Thursday for a press conference introducing new head coach Rick Tocchet, as well as Steve Patterson, who the club appointed as president and CEO. Patterson is a familiar name to Arizona sports fans, as he was previously the athletic director at Arizona State University, most recently in 2013.

Patterson’s past experience with stadium projects, including the construction of NRG Stadium, home of the NFL’s Houston Texans, and the redevelopment of Portland’s Moda Center, the home court of the NBA’s Trail Blazers, will be a key resource as the Coyotes continue to work toward a new arena. This expertise, in addition to his ties to the Valley of the Sun, makes Patterson a key hire for the Coyotes.

“Steve has the combined skills and experience and local contacts to help go about it,” Barroway said. “Going forward on stadium stuff, we’ll do everything aggressively and privately and when we have a firm deal to announce, we’ll announce it.

“I think people want to know when it’s a done deal. They don’t need to live through the daily drama of it. There’s no benefit to discussing it publicly until you have something to report. You’re not going to get any false timelines from us, but trust me, I get up in the morning thinking about a new stadium and I go to sleep thinking about a new stadium.”

The Coyotes certainly have the support of the NHL, particularly commissioner Gary Bettman, who according to Barroway described Arizona as a “home run” hockey market if a new stadium can come to fruition.

The Coyotes are in search of a new arena after the city of Glendale voted to end the team’s long-term lease agreement at Gila River Arena, where it’ll continue to play on a year-to-year basis.

The Coyotes hope to have a new arena in the East Valley, closer to most of the team’s fan base and corporate sponsors. Past proposals have included a site on the campus of Arizona State, and reportedly a shared facility with the NBA’s Suns in downtown Phoenix. The two clubs previously shared an arena prior to the Coyotes’ move to Glendale in 2003.

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Ron Burkle would gladly have given up the money earned through expansion if it meant holding on to Marc-Andre Fleury.

The Pittsburgh Penguins co-owner mentioned his great reluctance to part ways with the goalie in an interview with Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“What Fleury did for us by being more of a stand-up person than you could ever imagine anybody being and (general manager Jim Rutherford’s) call to keep him all year, which was exactly the right thing to do – I wish we could have given the $15 million (expansion fee) back and kept him forever,” Burkle said.

Burkle is referring to Fleury taking a back seat following the emergence of Matt Murray and handling the situation like a consummate professional.

There were other factors in play, of course – notably, a salary cap that makes it difficult to carry two bona fide starting goalies and a market that dictated Fleury likely would have been traded.

In the end, Fleury was exposed in the expansion draft and selected by the Vegas Golden Knights, giving them an accomplished netminder right out of the gate.

Fleury was selected first overall by the Penguins in 2003 – four years after Burkle, along with Mario Lemieux, helped save the club from bankruptcy and potential relocation. He won 375 regular-season games and three Stanley Cups during his time in Pittsburgh.

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Arizona Coyotes owner Andrew Barroway stands by his verdict not to offer the organization’s most storied player a new contract this summer.

“Not offering Doan a contract was the right hockey decision,” he said at a press conference, per AZ Central’s Sarah McLellan.

Doan had spent his entire 21-year NHL career with the Jets/Coyotes franchise, but with Arizona going through a rebuild and attempting to get younger, its brass decided it was no longer in the team’s best interest to bring back their 40-year-old captain.

Coming off a season of just six goals, 21 assists, and a Corsi For percentage of 47.8, it doesn’t take an analytics expert to tell you Doan’s on-ice effectiveness is waning.

Barroway does regret the way he handled the situation, though. He apologized to both Doan and Coyotes fans for how he handled the captain’s exit, stating he should have flown out to meet with Doan face to face in order to deliver the news, according to McLellan and Arizona Sports’ Craig Morgan.

The free-agent market hasn’t been kind to veteran wingers like Doan thus far, as Jarome Iginla, Jaromir Jagr, and Brian Gionta also remain without contracts for the upcoming season.

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Tomas Tatar is reportedly seeking a longer-term contract than the Detroit Red Wings are willing to give him at the moment.

The restricted free-agent forward’s camp is looking for a deal in the range of seven years, but the Red Wings have yet to offer more than five, according to Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press.

Tatar filed for salary arbitration and has a hearing scheduled for July 20.

If the two sides are unable to agree on a long-term deal before then, he’d be looking at a one-year pact that he recently admitted would “probably” be his last contract with the Red Wings.

Tatar led Detroit with 25 goals this past season, the final campaign of a three-year, $8.25-million deal he inked with the Red Wings in 2014.