NHL working on sending Coyotes to Winnipeg?

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Yotes4.jpgA story that at first seemed to be nothing but conjecture and
complete speculation has turned into something much, much more
substantial. The
Phoenix Business Journal is reporting that,
according to unnamed
sources, the NHL is working with Toronto Billionaire David Thomson to
possibly send the Phoenix Coyotes franchise back to Winnipeg.

Two
sources with knowledge of the Coyotes finances and ownership said a
deal between Thomson and the NHL has been completed in principle and
could have the Coyotes back in Winnipeg next season if necessary.
Thomson, also considered a possible buyer of the Atlanta Thrashers, is a
partner in True North and chairman of Thomson Reuters. True North owns
the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League and MTS Centre in
Winnipeg, which seats 15,100.

The report states that
the NHL is still actively pushing to keep the Coyotes in Phoenix. Ice
Edge Holdings is having issues in financing a deal to purchase the
franchise, and the NHL is also working with Jerry Reinsdorf to purchase
the team if the Ice Edge deal falls through. The NHL has a self-imposed
date of June 2010 to reach a deal to keep the team in Phoenix.

This
is the NHL finding a backup plan to sell the team, if the first two
options fall through. Although the league desperately wants to keep the
team in Phoenix, if the finances of a deal can’t be worked out they’ll
have to sell the team to the next best option. Jim Balsillie lost the
chance to purchase the team when the NHL refused to approve a sale, and
moving the team back to Winnipeg in a deal that would solve a number of
the financial issues the franchise is facing makes sense.

It’s
unfortunate it’s come to this; the Phoenix Coyotes have qualified for
the playoffs for the first time since 2002 and hockey fans in Arizona
once again have a decent team to cheer for. Jobing.com Arena is sold out
each night now, and the fans are now starting to show up again. Just
when hockey gets its claws dug in out in the desert, it seems there’s a
good chance the team will take off and back north.

The Coyotes
lost an incredible amount of money since the franchise moved to Phoenix,
but that is attributed more to more management and an incredibly
debilitating lease with the city of Glendale than anything to do with
hockey in the south.

This is still
just a simple report, coming from unnamed sources that are ‘close to the
situation’. There’s nothing that says this is a done deal, and even if
it was it still seems to be the third option for the NHL.

Lightning give Vasilevskiy the (brief) hook after very rare Jurco goal

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By just about any measure, Monday’s been lousy to Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.

He was pulled with a few minutes remaining in the first period after Chicago Blackhawks built a 3-1 lead, scoring those three goals on just eight shots on net.

You could summarize Vasilevskiy’s awful start by those numbers, or by how rare the 3-1 goal was for the scorer.

Tomas Jurco failed to score a goal or an assist in 16 games with the Red Wings, then went pointless in nine more games with Chicago before finally scoring his first goal of the season on Monday.

Now, Jon Cooper didn’t pull Vasilevskiy because Jurco scored that tally. Still, it rubs a little extra salt in his wounds all things considered.

Here’s the Jurco goal:

Patrick Kane‘s 2-1 goal might have hurt the most, actually, as it quickly dissolved a tying tally by Ondrej Palat:

Update: The Lightning decided to put Vasilevskiy back in net to begin the second period. Interesting.

Coach Q thinks Anisimov will be back by playoffs for Blackhawks

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The bad news is that Artem Anisimov seems likely to miss all – or at least most – of the regular season for the Chicago Blackhawks with his lower-body injury.

The good? Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville believes that Anisimov will be ready once the playoffs swing into motion, as the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus reports.

Anisimov was hurt when he got tangled up with Canadiens forward Alex Radulov on March 14:

The Blackhawks have been filling Anisimov’s typical spot alongside Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin with Ryan Hartman and Nick Schmaltz lately. There have been flashes of brilliance with Schmaltz, but Chicago would probably feel most confident with Anisimov back in his familiar place.

Chicago’s Central lead is pretty secure over the Minnesota Wild at the moment, which likely reduces motivation to rush Anisimov back before he’s truly ready. The Blackhawks close out their regular season on April 8, so there’s still time for him to heal up.

Ducks demote Enroth, so Gibson’s close to a return

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The Anaheim Ducks are flying high – er, waddling with some swagger? – right now thanks to Jonathan Bernier‘s somewhat shocking turnaround, but the pending return of John Gibson is promising.

(Especially since the Ducks will likely want him to shake off some rust before the playoffs begin.)

While it’s not clear if he’s exactly 100 percent healthy just yet, the Ducks sending Jhonas Enroth back to the AHL is a strong sign that Gibson is close.

Enroth actually never got a shot to start for the Ducks, as his last NHL appearance came on Nov. 30, closing off his ill-fated run with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Considering that Enroth was once a fairly hot commodity as at least a promising backup, it will be interesting to see how his 2017-18 season pans out. Will he get more or less of a chance than he received this season?

Bernier, meanwhile, is richly rewarding the Ducks for sticking with him.

He’s provided them with a Vezina-caliber March: 9-1-1, 1.71 GAA and .943 save percentage with one shutout. You almost wonder if there’s at least some potential for a goalie controversy if Gibson stumbles whenever he gets back into action … but hey, having two good goalies to choose from is better than none.

(Which was the scenario that must have scared the Ducks when Gibson got hurt in the first place.)

WATCH LIVE: Chicago Blackhawks at Tampa Bay Lightning

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The Tampa Bay Lightning almost certainly haven’t faced the Chicago Blackhawks in a game this important since the two teams were vying for a Stanley Cup.

While the Blackhawks have already punched their ticket to the postseason and are merely trying to pad their lead in the Central Division, the Bolts are fighting for their playoff lives. At the moment, they rank three points behind the Boston Bruins for the final spot in the East. With a game in hand, they can make up a lot of ground tonight.

With all of that in mind, it should be an entertaining contest. You can check it out on NBCSN, watch online or via the NBC Sports App.

Click here for the livestream.