Report: Oilers aren’t likely to have a new arena by 2014

1 Comment

With all the talk lately about a potential new arena in Edmonton and the talk about the team potentially looking towards Quebec City as a future destination should things not work out, there’s some new news today about how things will (or won’t) work out in the project.

Oilers billionaire owner Daryl Katz has been trying to broker a deal with the City of Edmonton to help subsidize a new arena for the Oilers in Edmonton courtesy of taxpayer money.  His target date to have it done was 2014 and according to a report, if they want it done by then it’s not likely going to happen.

City officials confirmed Friday that construction timelines and surrounding shops and offices that would go with the rink would make such a deadline “challenging.”

“I think it’s everybody’s target to get something built by 2014,” Simon Farbrother told reporters at City Hall after releasing documents detailing answers sought by councillors deciding whether to help fund the $450-million rink.

“(But) I think probably all parties assume if we’re able to pull a deal together that works for everybody, an extension of that lease (at Rexall Place) for a year or six months or whatever — we’d be able to do that.”

Whenever it comes to stories like these were a team is doing their damnedest to tweak the locals into getting something they want done, you have to wonder if there’s an ulterior motive at work here from the Oilers. After all, they’re trying to get taxpayers to help pay for the arena and the story this week about talk going on with Quebec City sure makes for excellent scare fodder.

With talk of the possibility of an end date for finished construction not being able to be achieved it’s another thing for Katz and his group to dangle in front of the fans and politicians alike to help get Rexall Place replaced. Rexall Place has been around since 1974 making it the second oldest arena in the league behind Nassau Coliseum in Long Island. The Oilers could definitely use a new place to play, but strong-arming the taxpayers to pony up for it when Katz is a multi-billionaire would be a disgusting abuse of the locals and their love of the team. Let’s just hope all this grandstanding doesn’t result in either the taxpayers getting screwed or a team being relocated.

Coyotes fire assistant coach Newell Brown

Getty
2 Comments

The Arizona Coyotes have parted ways with some personnel.

Assistant coach Newell Brown has been fired, along with Doug Soetaert, who was the general manager of their AHL affiliate in Tuscon.

Pro scouts David MacLean and Jim Roque won’t be back either. Their contracts will not be renewed.

“I’d like to thank Newell, Doug, David and Jim for their contributions to the club,” said GM John Chayka. “They are all good people but we believe these changes are necessary in order to improve our organization. We wish them the best in the future.”

A longtime NHL assistant coach, Brown is perhaps the most prominent of the four men. He joined the Coyotes in the summer of 2013 and received high praise for his work with their power play.

But Arizona’s power play slipped to 26th this past season, converting at a rate of just 16.2 percent.

As for Soetaert, he was only named GM of the Roadrunners last summer. The former NHL goalie had previously been a scout.

Plenty of seats available for tonight’s game in Ottawa

Getty
3 Comments

The Ottawa Senators say they’re still expecting a full house, but Ticketmaster’s website shows plenty of available seats for tonight’s second-round opener with the New York Rangers.

From the Ottawa Citizen:

Many of the available tickets for Thursday’s game were in the corners of the upper bowl, seats that carry a $96 price tag.

The Senators sold out all three games in the opening round of the playoffs against Boston. Game 1 drew a crowd of 18,702, while 18,629 showed up for Game 2 and 19,209 were in the seats for Game 5.

Attendance has been an issue in Ottawa — or, more specifically, suburban Kanata — all season, to the point owner Eugene Melnyk expressed great frustration with the lack of sellouts at Canadian Tire Centre.

Poor attendance also led to friction behind the scenes. At least, it sure sounded that way in the lawsuit that was filed against the team by its former chief marketing officer.

Poor attendance is why the Sens are trying to get a new downtown arena built. They believe that a more central location is the key to bigger crowds.

But regardless of the arena’s location, it won’t be a good look if there are empty seats tonight. This is the playoffs, and the Senators are one of eight remaining teams in the hunt for the Stanley Cup. The building should be full.

Related: Melnyk thinks Sens can make deep playoff run

McPhee won’t bring Stanley, Vegas’ lucky golden rooster, to draft lottery

Getty
1 Comment

There’s no way any lede I write will do this Review-Journal anecdote justice, so yeah, just read it:

[Vegas GM George] McPhee still has his superstitions like any former athlete. But don’t expect him to be rubbing a rabbit’s foot or holding a bunch of 4-leaf clovers in his pocket.

And he decided to leave Stanley the Rooster home rather than try and explain to Canadian Customs officials why the gift given to the team by the Mandarin Oriental back in February during Chinese New Year should be allowed into the country as a good luck prop.

The draft lottery goes Saturday in Toronto, at 7:30 p.m. ET. Vegas won’t drop any lower than sixth and has a 10.3 percent shot at the No. 1 overall pick, behind Colorado (18 percent) and Vancouver (12.1 percent). Arizona also has a 10.3 percent chance at getting top spot.

Hagelin making ‘significant steps’ in returning to Pens lineup

Getty
1 Comment

It’s been nearly six weeks since Carl Hagelin last suited up for the Penguins.

His return sounds like it’s on the horizon.

Hagelin, out since Mar. 10 with a lower-body injury, was deemed “close” to coming back by Pens head coach Mike Sullivan, just ahead of tonight’s Game 1 against Washington.

“[Hagelin] is a day-to-day decision at this point,” Sullivan said. “He took limited contact this morning. The next step, obviously, will be the full contact approach.

“He is certainly making significant steps in the right direction here.”

The speedy Swede missed the final 16 games of the regular season with his ailment, and all five games in Pittsburgh’s opening-round win against the Blue Jackets. The end result was just six goals and 22 points in 61 games played, down from the impressive stretch he had last season after being acquired from Anaheim.

Pittsburgh is hopeful the 28-year-old can rejoin the team, and provide similar production as last year’s playoff run. Hagelin had six goals and 16 points in 24 games en route to hoisting the Stanley Cup.

Hagelin isn’t the only veteran forward that could make his return this season. Earlier this week, the Pens announced winger Chris Kunitz had been cleared for contact, and is available for the Washington series.