Dallas Stars negotiating to move training camp to Prince Edward Island

The Dallas Stars are certainly in a state of flux lately, as the team
struggles with a restrictive internal budget as they work to transition
to Joe Nieuwendyk’s and Marc Crawford’s new system. With the team in he
midst of a sale, it’s also unlikely that the team is able to use that
cap space to upgrade the team over what they had on the ice last season.

So
after two straight seasons of missing the playoffs, it’s unlikely the
team will appear much different next season — other than in net, of
course.

The Stars are also fighting for relevancy in the Dallas
area, with the Cowboys, Rangers and Mavericks all experiencing recent
success. One thing the Stars have always had for the fans is
accessibility, especially during training camp. That has helped to keep
relations with the fans alive and well, despite the frustrations of
recent years.

However, according to Mike Heika of the Dallas
Morning News and The Guardian, the Stars are looking at moving at least
parts of their training camp to Prince Edward Island:

When contacted on
Friday morning, Long
said he wasn’t in a position to confirm anything yet.

“We hope to have
some closure to this situation in another two or three
weeks,’ Long said. The City of Charlottetown made a formal proposal to
the Stars
organization earlier this year to have the NHL organization move part of
its training camp to the Island capital.

Brad
Gardner of Defending Big D is feeling a bit greedy, and isn’t exactly
happy with the news:

This move will take what has been a
celebration of the return of
hockey amongst the faithful in Dallas away from the fans, and of course,
Defending Big D. In a town where hockey is a fourth rate sport, it’s
profile will be reduced even further by having the athletes 2,362 miles
away (Thanks, Google.)

Needless to say, if this comes to pass it is disappointing to us
here, who can’t exactly afford to get on a plane to Prince Edward Island
for a week. It is not uncommon to have training camps away from home,
of course. Baseball teams and football teams do it most commonly and the
Stars used to go to Colorado for a number of years.

Still, he
notes that perhaps it will be good for the team to get away for camp
after a number of seasons of very slow starts. It’s also important to
note that the entire camp won’t be on PEI; training camp begins on
September 17th and the first preseason game is on September 21st in
Dallas. So perhaps the Stars will open camp for the first few days up in
Canada before moving back to Dallas.

It’s also a good way to get
some great PR up in Canada, especially considering that Brad Richards
and Steve Ott are both PEI natives. So while the Stars fans will be
angry that portions of camp will be away from Dallas, it’s not as bad as
it initially sounds.

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    The Leafs’ remaining schedule is no cakewalk

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    The Toronto Maple Leafs took care of business last night, sending the floundering Florida Panthers to a 3-2 defeat at Air Canada Centre.

    Now comes the hard part for the young Leafs. They have seven games left to book their first playoff appearance since 2013, and their schedule is no cakewalk.

    The Leafs’ next three games are all on the road, in Nashville Thursday, Detroit Saturday, and Buffalo Monday. After that, it’s a four-game home stand to close out the schedule, all against formidable opponents: Washington, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, and Columbus.

    With a four-point playoff cushion, the Leafs can afford to lose a few games down the stretch. But head coach Mike Babcock doesn’t want his players looking too far ahead.

    “I really believe with our group if we just focus on the day we’re playing and play right, we have a real good chance to win,” Babcock said. “That’s what we talk about and that’s kind of our mantra every day is just play right, play fast and we have an opportunity to be successful. We don’t get all caught up in the race. We know the standings, it’s in the paper every day, so we know that.”

    The Leafs today sent goalie Garret Sparks back to the AHL. That can only mean good news for starter Frederik Andersen, who could play Thursday after missing last night’s victory with an upper-body injury.

    Backup Curtis McElhinney got the nod against the Panthers, calling it the biggest game of his career. The 33-year-old then went out and made 25 saves to earn the win.

    “It was great,” said McElhinney. “Getting a couple of goals in the first period there helped out a little bit and let me settle into it. It was a nice win.”

    Parise ‘pretty black and blue’ after Wilson high stick, but injury not serious

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    Zach Parise looked in bad shape after taking a Tom Wilson high stick to the face in Minnesota’s loss to Washington on Tuesday.

    Thankfully for the Wild, Parise’s early diagnosis is a good one.

    “He can see and is fine as far as that goes,” head coach Bruce Boudreau said on Wednesday, per the club’s Twitter account. “He’s sore in the upper body. I don’t think he’ll be out long.”

    Boudreau went on to add that Parise was “pretty black and blue” and unlikely to play tomorrow, when Minnesota hosts Ottawa. That said, the club expects the 32-year-old to return next week.

    It goes without saying that losing Parise is huge. The alternate captain has 17 goals and 37 points through 64 games this year, and is averaging 17:33 TOI per night. And for a Wild team that’s mired in a horrific slump — just three wins in its last 15 games — being down the services of such a vital contributor is costly.

    Related: Stewart fought Wilson in response to the high stick

    Stamkos ‘getting really close’ to return

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    It probably won’t happen Thursday against the Red Wings, but Steven Stamkos is getting close to making his return for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

    “I think we can start putting him in the day-to-day category right now,” said Bolts coach Jon Cooper, per team beat writer Bryan Burns. “I don’t see him playing against Detroit. After that, I’d say it’s getting really close.”

    Stamkos, who hasn’t played since November due to a knee injury, practiced today with his teammates. He took line rushes and even worked with the second-unit power play.

    “Today was probably the best day yet,” the captain said. “Doing better than last time we talked and really feeling better each day now.”

    Tampa Bay’s next game after Thursday’s is Saturday against Montreal.

    The Lightning are three points back of Boston for the second wild-card spot in the East, but they do hold a game in hand on the Bruins.

    A challenging offseason awaits Dean Lombardi

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    For the 23rd time this season — the most in the NHL — the Los Angeles Kings lost a game in regulation after they outshot an opponent.

    It happened last night in Edmonton, where the Kings outshot the Oilers, 35-29, but lost on the scoreboard, 2-1.

    Afterwards, captain Anze Kopitar could only express his frustration.

    “It seems like we’re beating the dead horse every night,” Kopitar said, per LA Kings Insider. “We outshoot teams, we out-chance teams yet we’re on the other side of the winning part, so bottom line it’s just not good enough. Whether that’s offensively or defensively, we’ve got to be better in both areas.”

    It’s mostly offensively. For whatever reason, the Kings have the second-worst shooting percentage (7.6) in the NHL, with only Colorado’s (7.2) being lower.

    Perhaps the Kings aren’t getting enough quality shots. Perhaps they don’t have enough quality shooters.

    Probably a bit of both.

    But it’s something that GM Dean Lombardi will need to address this offseason — assuming he can.

    Roster-wise, the big problem for Lombardi is that the Kings have a pair of veteran wingers, Dustin Brown and Marian Gaborik, whose contracts look a lot like anchors.

    Brown, 32, and Gaborik, 35, have combined for just 21 goals this season. Meanwhile, their combined cap hit is north of $10 million, and there’s plenty of term left on each deal.

    Not helping? Both Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson are pending RFAs, and they’re in line for raises.

    Oh, and there’s not much in the way of top prospects, either. In the past four drafts, only once have the Kings made a first-round pick. (Adrian Kempe went 29th overall in 2014.)

    Eleven points back of the second wild-card spot in the West, the Kings are all but mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. They’re in Calgary tonight to take on the Flames.

    Related: Kings give another kid a look, recall AHL All-Star Brodzinski