Coyotes sale potentially in big trouble

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The NHL playoffs were moving along a little too smoothly to not have a bombshell be dropped right in the middle of everything. The sale of the Phoenix Coyotes has hit yet another snag and this time it’s a big one.

Sources tell TSN the city of Glendale has asked Ice Edge Holdings to return to the bargaining table as a back up plan to buy the Coyotes, in the event the deal with Reinsdorf falls through.

Sources say Glendale reached out to Ice Edge late last week amid growing concern Reinsdorf’s accepted bid to purchase the Coyotes from the National Hockey League is at risk of falling apart.

To make things even more of a mess, ESPN’s Scott Burnside, tosses in this nuclear bomb of a revelation should Ice Edge not make a deal with the City of Glendale.

The situation in Glendale remains fluid; if the city does not agree to the league’s conditions, it is possible the NHL will instead move quickly to finalize a purchase agreement with Canadian billionaire David Thomson and move the team to Winnipeg. Sources tell ESPN.com there is a purchase agreement ready if the Glendale situation disintegrates.

If the team moves to Winnipeg, the Ice Edge group would then move the existing AHL team, the Manitoba Moose, to Thunder Bay, Ontario.

To call this a “big deal” would be to downplay the situation wildly. What’s most baffling about this is that it wasn’t even a full day since we got word of what the different conditions that Jerry Reinsdorf was going to have in order to buy the team, and it’s a sweetheart deal to an exponential degree.

In a preliminary agreement known as a memorandum of understanding (MOU), the Glendale City Council has agreed to pay $65 million in public funds over three years to the NHL, the current owner of the Coyotes, as part of Reinsdorf’s purchase. The NHL took over the team after Jerry Moyes, the previous owner, threw the franchise into bankruptcy court in a failed effort to sell the club and move it to Hamilton, Ontario.

The $65 million to be paid by Glendale is nearly 40 percent of the total Reinsdorf will have to pay to the NHL to acquire the Coyotes. But although Glendale is paying 40 percent, Reinsdorf and his group will own 100 percent of the team.

Essentially, the City of Glendale was selling the team to Reinsdorf for 40% off the manufacturer retail price. Not to mention they were giving him a five year window to turn a profit before allowing him to sell the team and leave town and he’s still walking away from the deal. Obviously this story is all built off of sources and inside reports, but both ESPN and TSN have discovered there’s some smoke coming from this entire mess, whether there is actually fire to go with the smoke remains to be seen. 

A lot of folks often wondered what would happen if movies turned out differently and should this whole thing breakdown the way it’s being painted by Scott Burnside, the comparisons of the Coyotes to the Cleveland Indians in the movie “Major League” take on a whole new light. In this case, only this time they lose in the playoffs and get moved away.

Eddie Lack expects to be released from hospital on Monday night

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As scary as the situation was for Carolina Hurricanes goalie Eddie Lack, the good news continues to pour in.

First, the Hurricanes provided an update that he had “full feeling in his extremities” while under observation at a hospital. This followed the promising sign that he was able to give a “thumbs up” gesture while being taken off the ice on a stretcher after the Hurricanes’ 4-3 overtime loss to the Detroit Red Wings.

The best news came late on Monday night, however, as Lack himself tweeted that he expects to head back home as early as this late evening/early morning:

That’s fantastic news. Video of that scary collision with Andreas Athanasiou can be seen in the video above this post’s headline.

Blues, Flames take care of business (Islanders … do not)

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For a while there, it seemed like the idle Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs would be Monday’s “winners.” That changed when the Carolina Hurricanes salvaged a standings point and the Tampa Bay Lightning stormed back to beat the Blackhawks.

Still, there were some teams who came through (beyond the Lightning) and those who fell flat, so let’s cover some of the results in short.

West teams get it done

Unlike their counterparts out East, West teams jockeying for position avoided “unforced errors” in losing to non-playoff teams.

The St. Louis Blues beat the Arizona Coyotes 4-1 while the Calgary Flames topped the Colorado Avalanche 4-2.

This keeps the Blues and Flames in position to advance. St. Louis is one point behind the Nashville Predators for third in the Central while the Flames are a point behind both the Sharks and Oilers for second and third in the Pacific (while remaining in shouting distance of the division title).

East teams stumble, some get over it

Again, the Lightning fought through hurdles to win and the Hurricanes managed that “charity point.”

Overall, East teams struggled. The New York Islanders fell to the Predators by a score of 3-1. Your mileage may vary on the Florida Panthers’ chances, especially after they fell 4-2 to the Buffalo Sabres.

Here’s what the race for the final spot in the East looks like after tonight:

Final wild card: Bruins – 84 points in 75 games played

Lightning – 83 points in 75 GP
Islanders – 82 points in 75 GP
Hurricanes – 80 points in 74 GP

Victor Hedman might just force his way into the Norris argument

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For quite some time this season, the Norris Trophy race felt a bit like “Brent Burns, Erik Karlsson and [insert token finalist].” As it turns out, Victor Hedman is making it a pretty interesting three-horse race.

With Burns and Karlsson idle on Monday, Hedman continued to go on the best offensive tear of his already-impressive career, contributing three assists to the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 5-4 overtime win against the Chicago Blackhawks.

As much credit as forwards Nikita Kucherov and Jonathan Drouin deserve in pushing Tampa Bay in Steven Stamkos‘ absence, Hedman has been an all-world blueliner for a Lightning team with a defense that isn’t really surrounding him with great talent.

He’s serving as a workhorse when his team needs him the most:

Now, when you look at the numbers, it’s probably fair to say that Hedman comes in third among the likely finalists in simple categories:

Brent Burns: 27 goals (!), 72 points in 75 games, +16 rating, 24:52 time-on-ice average

Erik Karlsson: 14 goals, 67 points in 74 games, +7, 26:53 minutes per game (fourth highest average in the NHL)

Victor Hedman: 15 goals, 65 points in 72 games, +2 rating, came into Monday with average of 24:15 minutes per game.

Looking at those breakdowns, you might wonder why someone wouldn’t just flippantly hand Hedman the “bronze medal” and a pat on the back … but things get more interesting if you ponder the all-around impact of those three.

Now, traditional-thinkers who slam risky defensemen for their mistakes often overstate such arguments. Both Burns and Karlsson tilt the ice in their teams’ favors, usually to profound degrees.

Still … Hedman locks opponents down to a truly elite degree and scores at a similar rate. Hedman could very well own the “two-way” argument; you could perhaps see his case most clearly when you compare his “HERO” chart to those of Burns and Karlsson, especially from the perspective of conceding shots.

Again, Burns remains the likely winner, and he would be a deserving one. You could make a solid Hart Trophy argument for Burns, in addition to tabbing him as the Norris frontrunner.

Even so, voters would be wise to take Hedman’s case seriously, especially as the Lightning continue their improbable playoff push.

Lightning storm back against Blackhawks, finish one point out of playoffs

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Who would have thought that the Tampa Bay Lightning would rally back from a 4-1 deficit tonight? Then again, who expected them to be so close to a playoff spot mere weeks ago, when they were sellers at the trade deadline?

The Lightning continue to show that they won’t just roll over and die, scoring four unanswered goals to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 in overtime on Monday.

While Jonathan Drouin was a catalyst for the second-period rally, it was an unlikely scorer who clinched the victory, as Yanni Gourde ended a thrilling run of 3-on-3 chances with the overtime-winner.

Really, it might have been fitting. Things looked glum when Tomas Jurco scored his first goal of the season against the Lightning, then the mood was totally flipped when Gourde’s second tally of 2016-17 grabbed a huge win.

With the Islanders losing to the Predators, the Hurricanes only managing a “loser point” against the Red Wings and the Bruins idle, Tampa Bay is a breath away from a playoff berth:

Final wild card: Bruins – 84 points in 75 games played

Lightning – 83 points in 75 GP
Islanders – 82 points in 75 GP
Hurricanes – 80 points in 74 GP

Yes, all of a sudden, a long-shot postseason run seems quite attainable.

Maybe the Lightning would prefer it if we kept counting them out, though?