Tom Hicks on sports: "This isn't my life"

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Tom Hicks has gone from one of the best owners in the NHL, one who
was able to inexplicably make hockey a viable sport in North Texas, to
one that many wish would just go away as quickly and as quietly as
possible. That’s not going to happen, it seems.

Hicks purchased
the Dallas Stars and the Texas Rangers in the 1990’s and while he
generally gets most of the credit for the Stars’ success over the years.
Yet seeing how the Rangers have stumbled in his tenure and how the
Stars have struggled once Bob Gainey left, it’s possible that the Stars
being so good was due more to great management than anything Hicks did
as an owner.

He’s always been a bit of a standoffish owner, never
being one to be as involved as some of the other local owners in Dallas.
That’s always been fine with Stars fans, as a Stanley Cup win tends to
overshadow some of the warning signs that have started to show.

It
was Hicks’ purchase of the Liverpool football club that really put
things in high water. Before then, the Rangers may not have had the most
success but they were still able to spend an exhorbitant amount of
money. That didn’t work, yet now the team is incapable of spending any
money whatsoever. His baseball team has been under the control of the
MLB for nearly a year and the Dallas Stars have been handcuffed with a
budget well under the salary cap. It’s caused some serious anxiousness
for fans of both teams as they feel the Stars and Rangers are just one
or two big acquisitions away from taking the next step.

As Tom
Hicks announces that he is also looking to sell his Liverpool team,
he tells the Times Online
that he’s ready to give up being an owner
of sports franchises:

“I can still be a fan. But I’ve paid a terrible price. I’m 64 years
old. I don’t want that any more. Jerry Jones [the Dallas Cowboys owner]
is a good friend of mine, but his life and his family’s life is the
Dallas Cowboys. Mark Cuban, the Dallas Mavericks are his life. This
isn’t my life.”

I’m sure the Dallas Stars fans out there are deeply sorry for the
terrible price Hicks has paid, as his greed at owning three sports teams
put all three deep into a world of hurt. That he’s also making the sale
of the Rangers tough to complete, and the asking price he’s listed for
Liverpool ($1.2 billion) there’s no doubt that he cares only about his
bottom line and not the teams he’s owned for so long.

Hicks has done a heck of a job alienating the fans of the teams he owns over the past few years, and even the most die hard of Stars fans that are still grateful of the wins he brought the team are admitting that it’s time for him to go. After building up hockey to incredible levels in Dallas, he now claims that the sport is far from a viable sport in North Texas unless the NHL drastically lowers the salary cap. Over the past few seasons, the Stars fans have seen their team fail to to make any big moves to improve the team even though the cap room was there, and for a team that has consistently been one of the top grossing franchises in the NHL that’s a hard pill to swallow.

Now we hear that he’s not even that interested in owning sports teams.

Good thing sports isn’t your life Tom, or you might end up owning
three sports teams.

Show me the money! Nylander sets Leafs rookie record with latest assist

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Toronto’s talented rookies were back at it again Thursday, as William Nylander and Auston Matthews combined to set up the Maple Leafs’ first goal versus the New Jersey Devils.

Nylander added the second assist on the power play goal, giving him 35 helpers on the season.

That’s significant for a couple of reasons: He extends his point streak to 10 games, which sets a new Leafs rookie record. And the assist reportedly secured him another entry-level bonus:

Not bad.

Gibson (lower-body injury) will play again this regular season, says Carlyle

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The Anaheim Ducks have been without goalie John Gibson for almost two full weeks because of injury, but head coach Randy Carlyle provided reason for optimism on Thursday.

Per reports, Gibson took part in practice and Carlyle has said that his No. 1 netminder will play again during the regular season. Anaheim has nine games remaining on its schedule.

That’s good news for Anaheim heading into the post-season.

While Gibson has been out, Jonathan Bernier has stepped beyond his back-up role and provided solid goaltending for the Ducks during the stretch drive — which should also be a bonus for this club with the playoffs quickly approaching.

Bernier has wins in six of his last seven starts. In nine games this month, he has only twice allowed three goals or more.

The Ducks have fought their way back into contention for the Pacific Division with a recent surge that has coincided with San Jose’s current skid — only four wins in their last 10 games and four straight losses.

Related: Career back on track, Bernier hopes he can re-sign in Anaheim

Report: IIHF needs NHL’s Olympic decision by end of April

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The Winter Olympics are less than a year away and time is ticking on the NHL to make a decision — one way or another.

From TSN.ca:

International Ice Hockey Federation President Rene Fasel tells The Associated Press he needs to know by the end of April whether NHL players will be cleared to play in the South Korea Olympics next year.

NHL team owners have made it clear they don’t want to stop their season again for the Winter Games and put their stars at risk of injury. The reluctance has come up before and yet the NHL has participated in the Olympics since 1998. This time, however, there seems to be an impasse.

For those hoping NHL players will compete in South Korea next year, the situation right now appears bleak, given the recent comments of commissioner Gary Bettman, who told Reuters that “…people should assume we are not going.”

Bettman has also argued the compressed schedule that accompanies the league’s participation in the Olympics is bad for the NHL.

Read more: Fehr: Players won’t negotiate with NHL over Olympics

Meanwhile, a number of players — Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, Jakub Voracek and rising star Connor McDavid among them — have publicly lobbied for the opportunity to once again compete in the Olympics, adding that having the world’s best players there is a benefit to growing the game.

(In McDavid’s case, he has never played in the Olympics, but given his stature as arguably the league’s best player right now in only his second season, he’d be a shoe-in to make Team Canada if healthy.)

Voracek recently sounded off the matter, essentially calling the league’s position, “Absolutely ridiculous.”

Goalie nods: Vezina candidates clash as Bobrovsky faces Holtby

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Sergei Bobrovsky leads the NHL in GAA, at 2.04. Braden Holtby sits second, at 2.05.

Bobrovsky leads the NHL in wins, with 39. Holtby sits second, with 37.

Holtby leads the NHL in shutouts, with eight. Bobrovsky sits third, with six.

Perhaps you see where this is going.

Tonight, the two will square off in a much-anticipated game, as the Jackets travel to Washington to take on the Caps.

“It’s a great opponent,” Bobrovsky said, per NHL.com. “It’s going to be interesting. It’s one of the best teams in the League, so we’ll see. We’ll see who’s going to be better.”

Holtby is the reigning Vezina winner, while Bobrovsky captured the trophy three years prior. Both have already been unofficially shortlisted for this season’s award — along with Devan Dubnyk and, perhaps, Cam Talbot — but tonight’s game is about much, much more than goaltending.

The Caps head into the tilt two points up on Columbus for first spot in the NHL (and just one up on Pittsburgh). Columbus has made it clear it would love to capture the first Preisdents’ Trophy in franchise history, and a victory tonight would be a big step towards it. The Jackets, Penguins and Capitals all have 10 games left in their respective seasons, and Columbus will have one more shot at each this year.

Elsewhere…

— The Bolts begin a back-to-back set tonight, and will start Peter Budaj against the Bruins. Tuukka Rask will likely be in for the B’s, after allowing three goals on just 22 shots in a loss to Ottawa on Tuesday.

Keith Kinkaid, who’s seen more playing time that usual down the stretch, will get another start when the Devils take on the Leafs in New Jersey. Curtis McElhinney goes for the Leafs, after Frederik Andersen beat Columbus last night.

— It’s Matt Murray versus Mike Condon as the Penguins take on the Sens.

Eddie Lack, who’s played very well since being verbally lambasted by head coach Bill Peters, looks to start when the ‘Canes take on the Habs in Montreal. Carey Price will be in goal for the Canadiens.

— After Reto Berra’s first start in over a year on Tuesday, the Panthers will go back to James Reimer against Arizona. The visiting Coyotes will start Mike Smith.

Ryan Miller goes up against his old Blues teammates as the Canucks visit St. Louis. Jake Allen, who continues to be one of the better comeback stories this season, looks for his seventh win in his last eight starts.

Chad Johnson gives Brian Elliott a night off as Calgary takes on Nashville. Looks as though the Preds are going back to Pekka Rinne, after he earned his third straight win over the Coyotes on Monday.

— It’s Steve Mason versus Devan Dubnyk as Philly travels to Minnesota.

Corey Crawford will look to bounce back after allowing four goals on 10 shots (and getting hooked) against Vancouver on Tuesday. The visiting Stars look like they’ll go with Kari Lehtonen.

— Some thought Cam Talbot, the NHL’s leader in starts, would get a rest tonight in Colorado after getting hooked against Anaheim last night. Nope. Talbot’s back in, going up against Jeremy Smith for the Avs.

— In the late game, Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck gets back in goal after Michael Hutchinson scored a rare win on Tuesday. He’ll be in against Ben Bishop, who looks to keep the Kings’ faint playoff hopes alive.