Dallas Stars’ lenders might appoint temporary president while team sale hangs in limbo

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Forgive my oversimplification/generalization, but you can break down the Dallas Stars team sale situation by two basic schools of thought.

On one side, you have the crowd who are mostly negative about the situation. They point to the difficult situations faced by the now-sold Tampa Bay Lightning and the suspended-in-muck Phoenix Coyotes and wonder if the lenders who bailed Tom Hicks out will ever find a satisfying price.

On the other side, there is a local example that might hearten some Stars devotees. The team must only look to Arlington, at their former Hicks-ownership-related cousins, the Texas Rangers. That team was once mired in a situation that seemed far more grim; they hadn’t made the playoffs since the days of Juan Gonzalez and things weren’t looking up this summer. What happened since then? The Rangers took Major League Baseball my storm, encouraged a bidding war between groups headed by Mark Cuban and Nolan Ryan and made it to the World Series after beating the Yankees, for goodness sakes.

Whichever viewpoint you hold, this news could be big in the short term: the group of lenders may need to appoint an interim president to help run the team … and hopefully increase interest in the not-too-shabby Stars. Here’s more from Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News.

The group of lenders who are serving as the owners of the Stars are seriously considering naming an interim president to help guide the team, according to a source close to the sale of the team, and a decision could be made by the end of the week.

The move could be seen as a sign that the lenders are content to run the team for the remainder of the 2010-11 season, but the source said it’s more a matter of doing what’s best for the Stars in the event a sale does not happen.

(snip)

Several people close to the sale say that open dialogue continues every day but that neither side is close to finding a price that makes everyone happy.

That means the lenders could continue to run the team for the remainder of the season in hopes that either a strong run in the playoffs or a change in the economic environment could entice buyers to raise their bids. The Stars have been running on the monies collected in the summer through ticket sales, advertising and television revenue, but those monies could run out in December. The Stars have talked to the NHL about getting an advance on future money that is normally collected by teams after the season, but the lenders could have to be prepared to start covering potential losses as soon as December.

The best bit of information – for Stars fans and fans of competitive hockey in general – is that it doesn’t sound like the team will run a talent liquidation (if they remain competitive, at least). The article seems to stress that the lenders are hopeful that adding a president will help them maintain or possibly improve the on-ice product as that will spur profits and increase the perceived value of the franchise.

In other words, the Stars might not have to pull what would be the equivalent of the anti-Cliff Lee trade by shipping Brad Richards and his large (but now justified), expiring contract to another team.

At least, they won’t do that if they really want to win. Stay tuned, though, because the surprising Stars might just be (an admittedly economically healthier) 2010-11 version of the 2009-10 Phoenix Coyotes. We’ll keep you posted.

A big night for the rookies and a big win for the Maple Leafs

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William Nylander helped get Toronto started on Thursday, extending his point streak to 10 games — a new Maple Leafs franchise record for a rookie.

Connor Brown finished it with his 17th goal of the season, securing a 4-2 win for the Maple Leafs over the New Jersey Devils.

Toronto has won three in a row and moves three points clear of Boston for third in the Atlantic Division, with a game in hand, which further helps the Maple Leafs’ playoff chances with nine games remaining on their schedule.

Just another big night for Toronto’s impressive crop of rookies.

Auston Matthews had a pair of assists.

— Nylander had a goal and an assist. He set one and tied another franchise rookie record on Thursday.

Mitch Marner had an assist, giving him 40 helpers this season, which ties the franchise rookie record set in 1943-44.

“They’re good players,” said coach Mike Babcock, per the Toronto Star. “I didn’t know Marner would make the team. I knew Matthews and Nylander were good players. I knew Brown and (Zach) Hyman were relentless. I had no idea (Nikita) Zaitsev was as close to how good he is.

“We have lots of good players.”

In May of 2015, Babcock predicted at his introductory press conference that the Maple Leafs would, during their massive rebuild, endure “pain.” This was, he said, to be a long process — a “massive, massive challenge.”

Approaching the two-year anniversary of that event — after all the losing that franchise and its fan base has gone through, which obviously helped them with the Matthews lottery last year — the Maple Leafs are poised to make the playoffs with a nucleus of young players that present even more promise for the future.

“We just want to get in to the playoffs, and give ourselves a chance,” continued Babcock. “We’re playing well, and finding a way to win games. That’s what we have to continue to do.”

Capitals defeat Blue Jackets in clash of Metropolitan Division powers

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WASHINGTON (AP) T.J. Oshie scored the shootout winner as the Washington Capitals overcame a stellar performance from Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky to beat the Blue Jackets 2-1 Thursday night.

Despite 44 saves from Bobrovsky, the Capitals reached 104 points and extended their lead atop the Metropolitan Division and NHL standings. Oshie engendered memories of his Sochi Olympic shootout performance by again beating Bobrovsky, the goalie he scored on four times in six chances that day.

Dmitry Orlov finally cracked Bobrovsky early in the third period on Washington’s 35th shot of the game. Orlov’s goal tied the score after Seth Jones beat Braden Holtby on a wild scramble early in the third for his first goal since Feb. 7.

Holtby had 29 saves in regulation and overtime and three more in the shootout to pick up his 38th victory of the season, one shy of Bobrovsky for the league lead.

A showdown between two of the top three teams in the league jockeying for position atop the Metropolitan Division lacked a playoff feel. But the matchup of two likely Vezina Trophy finalists lived up to that billing as Bobrovsky and Holtby went back and forth with big saves.

Bobrovsky entered the night first in wins, goals-against average and save percentage with Holtby second, second and third in those categories. The 2013 Vezina winner could also be an MVP contender this season given his value to Columbus’ third playoff berth in franchise history.

“When he’s in his game it’s very hard to score on him,” said Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, who had eight shots stopped by one of his Russian national teammates. “He likes the big moments, he likes pressure. His worth ethic is unbelievable. … In my opinion he’s one of the best goalies in the league right now.”

Methot ‘out for weeks’ after suffering a shattered finger from Crosby clash

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The Ottawa Senators lost defenseman Marc Methot for the bulk of Thursday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and it seems he’ll be out for quite a while longer, too.

Methot was injured on a Sidney Crosby slash across the hand in the first period. He didn’t return to the game and there was no penalty called on the Penguins captain.

Footage showed the gruesome aftermath of the slash — Methot’s finger on his left hand bloodied and injured as he skated back to the bench.

“His finger is shattered and he’s out for weeks,” said Senators head coach Guy Boucher, per the Ottawa Sun.

Methot immediately confronted Crosby after the slash, which occurred as the Sens blue liner went to dump the puck into the Pittsburgh zone late in the first period.

The Senators got revenge, scoring a 2-1 shootout victory to move within a point of Montreal for the Atlantic Division lead. Crosby was also denied in the shootout.

NHL to make ‘special announcement’ in China next week

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The National Hockey League has announced it will make a “special announcement” at the LeSports Center in Beijing, China next Thursday.

In January, the league’s deputy commissioner Bill Daly made it clear the NHL has interest in playing games in China — likely starting out with pre-season games before potentially adding in some regular season contests in the future, as well.

Just after the league made its announcement on Thursday, the L.A. Kings tweeted out that they will participate in next week’s event, along with the Vancouver Canucks.

In January, hockey insider Darren Dreger reported that the Canucks and Kings were likely to play NHL pre-season games in China this upcoming September.

Last July, members of the Boston Bruins visited China, specifically Beijing and Shanghai, to host hockey clinics in those cities.

Beijing will also host the 2022 Winter Olympics.