Columbus Blue Jackets hope casinos might fix their money woes

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For a while, casinos seemed like they might have been the “answer” for the Pittsburgh Penguins when they were struggling to keep their team together many moons ago. Now it looks like at least a few people hope that they might help the Columbus Blue Jackets stop their considerable financial bleeding.

The Columbus Dispatch has more on the possible idea.

The Blue Jackets president believes that the casino taxes that will flow to Columbus and Franklin County would be the best fix for the hockey team’s financial woes.

“I think it is the most viable solution, and it wouldn’t require any other money being used,” Mike Priest said today. “But it’s up to the public sector to decide how it wants to use that money.”

Business, government and team officials have been meeting for more than a year to come up with a way to stem the Blue Jackets’ bleeding. The club is losing an estimated $12 million a year in operations.

A 2009 report blamed the team’s arena deal – the Blue Jackets pay $5 million annual rent and lose $4 million to run Nationwide Arena – as the biggest factor in the poor finances.

It’s a pretty simple formula for teams outside of “traditional” markets: if you struggle often enough you’ll probably end up dealing with some cash flow issues. Here are a few more details from the Dispatch.

Local leaders have considered a number of possibilities, from using casino dollars to raising taxes on rental cars, hotel stays and alcoholic beverages, to help support the team. They say that losing the NHL franchise would devastate the Arena District.

Priest said using casino taxes is the most attractive idea so far because the city and county would not have to seek voter approval to use the tax money.

Four casinos, including one along W. Broad Street, are approved to be built in Ohio. A 33 percent state tax on gross casino revenue could generate $24million for Columbus and about $16million for Franklin County, according to Penn National Gaming, the developer of the Columbus casino.

City and county officials said it’s too early to say whether casino taxes will be the solution for the Blue Jackets.

Even if they’re a middling franchise at best, the Blue Jackets still play at least 41 games per year at Nationwide Arena. It makes sense, then, that the region would suffer without that regular draw. The team might not see any of that casino money until 2012, so this is more of a potential long-term situation.

In the mean time, new GM Scott Howson must attempt to put a winning team together. A playoff run or two would certainly improve their money situation – though it won’t necessarily “fix” everything. It’s might be better than banking on a lottery ticket in the form of casino cash, though …

(H/T to Kukla’s Korner.)

There’s ‘a real positive vibe’ in Buffalo, where Eichel will make NHL debut tonight

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Jack Eichel didn’t disappoint in the preseason, finishing with six points in four games, including two shorthanded goals.

Tonight in Buffalo, his NHL career will start for real when the Sabres host the Ottawa Senators in regular-season action.

“It’s something I’ve dreamed of my whole life, stepping foot on that ice and making the NHL,” Eichel said, per “It’s kind of been a whirlwind, but you’re finally playing hockey for a living and everything you’ve done your whole life is to get to this point. It’s pretty special.”

The 18-year-old’s debut was front-page news this morning in Buffalo, where the Sabres have been among the NHL’s worst teams since last making the playoffs in 2010-11.

Eichel front page

Granted, even with the additions of Eichel, Ryan O'Reilly, Evander Kane, Robin Lehner and Cody Franson, expectations for 2015-16 remain modest for the new-look Sabres. Certainly, a spot in the playoffs would count as a surprise.

But for the fans of a team that’s barely possessed the puck the past couple of years, it’s night and day.

“People are excited,” GM Tim Murray said earlier this week. “It’s great. They think we’ve improved, and there’s a real positive vibe, I believe.

“That’s what I said to our coaches, ‘I want everybody to be positive. I’m the only guy in the organization allowed to be negative.’ That’s the way I wanted it. If I’m the most negative guy in the city about the team, that’s pretty good.”

Sutter: Kings weren’t ‘interested’ in checking the Sharks

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Lost in the various controversies (see here and here) of last night’s game in Los Angeles was a pretty dismal performance by the Kings, a team that should’ve been especially motivated to start the season after missing the playoffs last year.

The Kings were hammered, 5-1, by the visiting Sharks. They were outshot, 32-20.

“If you don’t check, you don’t have the puck enough,” said Kings head coach Darryl Sutter. “If you don’t have the puck enough, you can’t score.”

“We were pretty sloppy. Sloppy on our rushes, sloppy in our D-zone,” said forward Dustin Brown. “That’s probably most of it, but the other part is compete – in the corners and making hard plays coming out of our zone, going in. We didn’t play very well.”

Obviously, much credit has to go to the Sharks. Like the Kings, they missed the playoffs last year and came into 2015-16 looking for redemption. But the Sharks haven’t won two Stanley Cups in the last four years, and they weren’t the home team.

“Gotta check,” said Sutter. “You don’t check, you can’t score. We had a lot of guys, especially top guys that weren’t interested in that part of the game.”

The Kings get a visit from the Arizona Coyotes on Friday. If they don’t dominate that team…