With Coyotes in trouble, Canada gets greedy for more

winnipegjets.gifThe situation with the Phoenix Coyotes is as fluid and absurd as anything any professional sports league has ever seen. The latest update comes from Darren Dreger at TSN saying that the City of Glendale will reach an agreement with Ice Edge to get the Coyotes. As always, there are some stipulations thrown into the mix.

It has been widely speculated one of the main stumbling blocks is a concern over whether or not Glendale will cover losses for next season.  However, what the National Hockey League is looking for is an assurance, if the league foregoes the relocation option for next season, and either the City or new ownership breaches or doesn’t close, Glendale will then assume the risk of losses for next year.

Sources say the NHL is simply looking for an insurance policy and nothing more. 

As expected, the NHL is just making sure they’re not stuck holding the bag and having to scramble around like they did last summer when former Coyotes owner Jerry Moyes declared bankruptcy and tried to side-step the league rules and sell to Research In Motion guru Jim Balsillie.

What makes this continued circus all the more insane is the potential Winnipeg move for the Coyotes and what it does to Canadians and Canadian reporters in general. If the Jets are to make a return and Canada does, indeed, get to make it seven the Globe and Mail’s Stephen Brunt isn’t content with just seven, he wants a little bit more.

Maybe Jim Balsillie’s problem was that he didn’t think big enough. Make It Seven? Heck, how about Make It Nine?

The rather predictable events in Phoenix over the past 48 hours, coming almost exactly a year after Jerry Moyes took the Coyotes into bankruptcy with the intent of passing the franchise to Balsillie, and to Hamilton, underscore a truth obvious even to the desperate propagandists in the NHL’s head office.

There aren’t a heck of a lot of palatable options around right now for ailing NHL teams that don’t involved relocation to Canada.

Check that: there aren’t any.

Brunt goes on to add that not just Winnipeg is a good choice, mostly thanks to potential Canadian buyer David Thomson’s money, but also another former NHL home in Quebec City (courtesy of former Nordiques owner and current Canadian political figure Marcel Aubut) as well as the big prize in Canada, the greater Toronto area. While the NHL isn’t in a hurry to go scattering other money-losing franchises back across the northern border, leaving markets that are slowly trying to build some respectability with a bad taste in their mouth for the NHL doesn’t do the league any good either.

In the meantime, the NHL getting its house in order with the Coyotes is priority number one and the league’s commitment to Phoenix/Glendale as a market is going to get the biggest test its ever had mainly because the league has more than just its reputation as a league at stake here, they’ve got their credibility as a business at play as well.

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    Lundqvist will start four of five remaining games

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    Henrik Lundqvist has had two tough starts since returning from injury.

    The 35-year-old allowed five goals in his first game back, a 6-3 loss to Anaheim Sunday, and five more in his second game, a 5-4 OT loss to San Jose Tuesday.

    But Lundqvist is still the No. 1 in New York, and for that reason he’s scheduled to start four of the Rangers’ five remaining regular-season games, with the hope he’ll be able to play his way back into form in time for the postseason.

    Lundqvist was not happy after Tuesday’s loss to the Sharks, even though the point the Rangers gained earned them a playoff berth.

    “I’m extremely disappointed right now,” he told reporters. “I’m glad we’re in, but I want to get the job done. I want the win. We found a way to lose this one at the end.”

    With the loss, Lundqvist’s save percentage fell to .911 on the season. If it finishes at that number, it would be the lowest save percentage of his NHL career.

    Antti Raanta‘s save percentage, meanwhile, sits at .922. In his last start, he shut out the Kings in Los Angeles.

    The Rangers host Pittsburgh tomorrow and Philadelphia Sunday. Next week, they’re in Washington Wednesday, Ottawa Saturday, and then they close out their schedule at home to Pittsburgh Sunday.

    Raanta will start one of the final two games.

    The Rangers are likely to face Carey Price and the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs.

    Reinhart suggests benching him for an entire game might’ve been a stretch

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    Two days after Sam Reinhart was bolted to the pine for the entirety of Buffalo’s 3-1 loss to Columbus — his punishment for showing up late to a team stretch — Reinhart discussed the incident, and didn’t sound overly thrilled about how it played out.

    “It’s a coach’s decision. It’s a management decision,” Reinhart said, per the Buffalo News. “From my perspective, I would have rather battled it out with my teammates.

    “I don’t think five minutes in the morning is going to influence my preparation for a game, but it was a team stretch and I should have been there on time.”

    Reinhart also had this to say:

    Discipline of this nature is pretty common, though the way Reinhart’s played out was a bit more dramatic. Rather than park him in the press box as a healthy scratch, the Sabres — who didn’t have an extra forward, as Kyle Okposo was out sick — dressed the 21-year-old, then sat him for the entire 60 minutes.

    The Buffalo News said the move “would seem to send a deeper message than merely being scratch,” adding that “there has been friction between players and [Sabres head coach Dan] Bylsma throughout the season.”

    In the club’s defense, Reinhart is hardly the first young player to be punished for lateness. Nikita Zadorov had repeated issues with punctuality and, after being suspended, was eventually traded to Colorado. Evander Kane was parked for a game last season after sleeping in and missing a practice.

    Of course, each situation is unique and some will argue showing up five minutes late for a stretch isn’t on par with what Zadorov and Kane did. Which is fair. That could be why Bylsma said the club might consider a policy change.

    And that could by why Reinhart’s teammate, Jack Eichel, tried to put things in perspective.

    “We’re obviously not going to hold it over his head here,” Eichel said, per the News. “He didn’t really do too much wrong.”

    North Dakota’s Poolman turns pro, signs with Jets

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    Another day, another North Dakota departure.

    Having already lost freshman Tyson Jost (signed with Colorado) and sophomore Brock Boeser (signed with Vancouver), the school has now learned that junior blueliner Tucker Poolman has signed an entry-level deal with the Jets.

    Poolman, 23, was taken by Winnipeg in the fifth round (127th overall) at the ’13 draft. From the Free Press:

    UND’s top defenceman was playing between 25 and 30 minutes per game and was the fourth-highest scoring blue-liner in the NCHC. He finished the season with seven goals, 30 points, 14 penalty minutes and a plus-18 rating in 38 games.

    Poolman’s final campaign ended on a sour note. He suffered a shoulder injury during the NCHC championship game and was unable to play in North Dakota’s season-ending loss to Boston University in the NCAA championships.

    Coming to America: Jackets assign Carlsson to Cleveland

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    His Swedish season over, defenseman Gabriel Carlsson is coming to North America to play some hockey.

    The Columbus Blue Jackets announced today that Carlsson, the 29th overall pick in the 2015 draft, has been assigned to AHL Cleveland.

    From the press release:

    Carlsson, 20, recently completed his second full season with Linköping HC in the Swedish Hockey League where he collected two goals and two assists for four points with six penalty minutes and a +8 plus/minus rating in 40 games.

    Linköping was eliminated from the SHL playoffs on Tuesday.

    Carlsson is listed at 6-4 and 191 pounds.