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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    The Panthers are healthy scratching Bolland, and he is their highest-paid forward, but they insist they’re not sending a message

    Dave Bolland, Derek Nansen
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    It feels like there’s a story brewing in Florida, where Dave Bolland — the team’s most-expensive forward, at $5.5 million a season — has been a healthy scratch for three consecutive games.

    But according to head coach Gerard Gallant, there’s nothing to see here. Move along.

    “There’s nothing to talk about,” Gallant said, per the Miami Herald. “He sat out, our team is playing well. There’s nothing more than that. We have to sit two guys and I like the way we’re playing. The next game is a different game. We may change something up, who knows.”

    Bolland had just one goal and five points in 18 games prior to getting parked in the press box. Well, technically he got dropped to the fourth line before hitting the press box, but you get the idea. He’s not exactly in Gallant’s good graces.

    Not helping Bolland’s case is the fact that, as Gallant pointed out, the club is playing pretty well without him. The Panthers have rebounded from a rough start to November by winning back-to-back games against the Islanders and Red Wings, which set them up nicely for the remainder of this current five-game road swing.

    Florida has games still to play in St. Louis, Nashville, Columbus and New Jersey. It’ll be interesting to see when — or, if — he draws back into the lineup.

    In closing, a reminder that Bolland’s in the second of a five-year, $27.5 million deal.

    Canucks rookie Virtanen exits with upper-body injury, won’t return


    After sitting out Friday’s game in Dallas, Vancouver’s Jake Virtanen had to be excited at drawing back in for tonight’s game against the Ducks.

    Unfortunately, the excitement didn’t last long.

    Virtanen suffered an upper-body injury after playing just 1:45 in the opening frame, and was ruled out of the contest during the intermission. It’s unclear exactly what happened, but it looks like Virtanen was injured on a hit by Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf.

    Virtanen didn’t take another shift following the incident, and Getzlaf was given a minor penalty on the play.

    While we don’t know what the injury is or it’s severity, losing Virtanen for any length of time would have ramifications for the Canucks and this year’s Canadian entry at the World Juniors. There has been talk of Virtanen possibly being released by the Canucks to participate in the tournament; last year, he was part of the team that captured gold in Montreal and Toronto.

    Virtanen has played in 18 games for the Canucks this year, scoring one goal and four points while averaging 10:17 TOI per night.

    McLellan sounds off on Oilers after shutout loss in Toronto

    Todd McLellan

    Edmonton lost for the fourth time in five games on Monday, a 3-0 defeat in Toronto that marked the second time in a week the Oilers have been shut out.

    Needless to say, the head coach wasn’t happy.

    In a fairly blunt and harsh assessment aimed at a variety of players, Todd McLellan had some choice words for what he called a “disappointing” effort.

    Some of the more choice quotes:

    “I didn’t think we were a very hard team. I didn’t think we stood over a lot of pucks. I didn’t think we won a lot of battles along the boards. I didn’t think we were competitive enough in a lot of areas.”

    “When I look at the trip as a whole, we had some key, key people really under-perform on the trip. Significant minus numbers, not hitting the score sheet. It can’t always be the [Leon DraisaitlTaylor Hall line] that provides that.”

    It’s fair to suggest that last one was directed at Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle.

    Nugent-Hopkins has just two points and zero goals in his last five games, with a minus-8 rating. Eberle is pointless entirely, and also at minus-8 over the same stretch.

    They’re hardly the only Oilers not pulling their weight at the moment, however. Edmonton has lost 15 times in its first 25 games, a figure that suggests there are more problems that just a couple of underachieving forwards.

    Just ask McLellan, who all but admitted his team has issues matching up.

    “We’re not where we need to be,” he said. “We’ve got work to do as a team, work to do as an organization to get bigger, stronger, harder, and physically win more battles than we lose.”

    Roy: Avs ‘need, expect more’ from Varlamov


    The tough times continue for Semyon Varlamov.

    After another unsuccessful outing on Monday — allowing four goals on 27 shots in a loss to the Islanders — Varlamov was subjected to a familiar refrain: Patrick Roy saying the Avs need more from their No. 1 netminder.


    You can hear all of the head coach’s comments in the video above but, for brevity’s sake, here’s the Varlamov stuff:

    “It’s not easy for him. Obviously we need that extra save and we didn’t get it on the road. It’s hard to win if you’re giving four goals on the road.

    “We just need more from him. He’s our No. 1 guy and we’re behind him, but we need, we expect more from him.”

    There has to be serious concern about Varlamov right now, if there wasn’t already.

    His save percentage through seven games in November (.891) is marginally better than it was through seven games in October (.889), and that’s not the only alarming stat. Varlamov’s yet to record a shutout this year, yet to record back-to-back victories and has given up at least three goals in six of his last seven starts.

    Not good.

    Compounding things for Colorado are the standings. The Avs are now 9-14-1 and mired in the Central Division basement, meaning that — if they have any hope of going on a tear and getting back into playoff content — they’ll need to do it soon.

    Which means they might not have the time, or the patience, for Varlamov to find his game.