Keith Tkachuk, Dave Checketts

St. Louis Blues fans range from uneasy to livid regarding news that team is for sale

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Moving past the obvious fact that every sports team has its fair share of die-hard fans, it’s clear that teams such as the Phoenix Coyotes and Atlanta Thrashers would be less endangered to relocate if their season tickets were selling like iPods. Instead, their games are generating Microsoft Zune-like attention, so they find themselves in a tough situation when it comes to selling their teams.

(The Dallas Stars are probably the equivalent to Pearl Jam’s music career by this analogy, then. They were hot in the ’90s, ignored once they fell out of favor and now are approaching previous levels even if most people haven’t noticed.)

When St. Louis Blues owner Dave Checketts announced that the team is up for sale – basically everything, including his 20 percent share, by the way – it marked a unique moment in recent sales news. Unlike the Stars, Thrashers and Coyotes, the Blues are a box office hit this season even though their team is middling at best.

Of course, with that almost-blind devotion comes plenty of emotion. Upon hearing news that their team might be on the market, Blues fans reacted in ways that ranged from genuine concern to boiling outrage (warning: the latter link is quite vulgar).

First, Jeremy Rutherford dispelled the notion that the team might move in his chat today.

Michael Cook: I feel like with all the failures the Blues have had with our owners throught the years, that it would appear to me that with in five years the Blues will be forced to move. Whats your thought on this? My reason is simple the Blues with a full sellout home crowd this year is still only a break even team.

Thanks

Mike

Jeremy Rutherford: Here’s the key question: Where would they go? Would an owner take the risk of moving to another city where there’s no guarantee that they could withstand the initial novelty of having an NHL team. Possibly, but is it worth the risk? Fans in St. Louis have proven they will come out in droves, regardless of if they’re watching a playoff team. If you put a playoff team in front of them, the new owner can count on the support. And if the team ever puts it together and makes a real run, you’re talking about the possibility of playoff revenue and raising ticket prices and then you’re talking about some real money.
Not every response was calm and measured, though. St. Louis Game Time published a passionate (and profane) response to the announcement. Here are a couple tidbits we can actually publish (click here for the full rant, if you can handle some harsh language).

So here we are, five years later, and another failed owner for this franchise goes down.  I stand by this team, as you all know.  I refuse to side with Checketts, though, as I feel as if he has broken my trust.  In business terms, he sold me what I thought was a cherry, and it turned out to be a total lemon.

(snip)

This Blues franchise, despite never winning anything in the history of ever (or at least as I see it), is a proud franchise with a solid fan base.  But we, as fans have had our trust in the management of this team tested way too many times.  And now, it happens to me again.

As you can see, fans aren’t too pleased with the news, even if the team is unlikely to move. If nothing else, prospective owners cannot accused the St. Louis market of a lack of passion for the sport, though.

* – The Toronto Maple Leafs’ sale resides in a whole other dimension.

With DeKeyser locked up, Holland still has work to do in Detroit

Ken Holland
AP
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There’s nothing too flashy about Danny DeKeyser‘s game.

“Basically,” he told reporters today, “my game, I just try to move the puck well, play solid defensively, chip in some points or goals here or there when I can, and just try to be a good team player and do things that help the team win.”

For that, the Red Wings gave the steady defenseman a six-year, $30 million contract, avoiding an arbitration hearing in the process. Yes, it’s a significant amount of money for a d-man that doesn’t contribute a ton of offense, but as we’ve already seen this offseason, players like DeKeyser have significant value. The Edmonton Oilers gave up Taylor Hall to get one.

Re-signing DeKeyser is not expected to stop GM Ken Holland from trying to add to his blue line. The Wings have a surplus of forwards, and Holland has said he’d “love to get a top-three defenseman” prior to the start of next season.

If Holland can’t swing a deal, Detroit’s pairings could look something like this:

DeKeyser — Mike Green
Jonathan Ericsson — Niklas Kronwall
Brendan SmithAlexey Marchenko
Xavier Ouellet

It’s not a particularly young group. Kronwall is 35, Ericsson is 32, and Green is 30. The Red Wings chose not to re-sign veteran Kyle Quincey, and so far he has not been replaced. In June, they drafted a defenseman in the first round, but Dennis Cholowski is a ways away from playing in the NHL; he’s off St. Cloud State in the fall. There are a few other young blue-liners in the system, like Joe Hicketts, Ryan Sproul and Robbie Russo, but they all still have some developing to do.

At the very least, Holland now has some cost certainty with DeKeyser. The next step will be getting Petr Mrazek‘s deal done, possibly with the aid of tomorrow’s arbitration hearing. After that, it’ll be working to get that defenseman he covets.

Related: Blues GM says he might just keep Kevin Shattenkirk

Nugent-Hopkins trying to ignore trade rumors — ‘If it happens, it happens’

BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 14:  Ryan Nugent-Hopkins #93 of the Edmonton Oilers skates against the Boston Bruins during the first period at TD Garden on December 14, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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The Ryan Nugent-Hopkins trade speculation may have died down since it peaked at the draft in late June, but it’s not entirely dead.

The 23-year-old former first overall draft pick was asked to address the ongoing rumors Monday at an Oilers charity golf tournament.

“I try not to pay attention too much,” Nugent-Hopkins said, per the Edmonton Journal. “If it happens, it happens. I know it’s definitely a different group than the one we finished with last season.”

Indeed it is. Most notably, Taylor Hall is in New Jersey now, traded for defenseman Adam Larsson. The Oilers also signed Milan Lucic and drafted Jesse Puljujarvi.

What’s still lacking is an offensive defenseman who can run the power play, which is why the names Tyson Barrie (Avalanche) and Matt Dumba (Wild) have been floated as potential targets.

The Wild in particular could use a good, young center like Nugent-Hopkins, and the expansion draft is looming for a Minnesota club that already has defensemen Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin, and Marco Scandella locked up in long-term contracts.

Barrie, meanwhile, has an arbitration hearing scheduled for Friday.

Blues d-man Kevin Shattenkirk is another name that’s come up; however, he can become an unrestricted free agent after next season, and whether he’d re-sign in Edmonton is in doubt.

Flyers reportedly avoid arbitration with Manning, sign him for two more years

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Chalk up another arbitration hearing that won’t be required. This time it’s Brandon Manning‘s. The 26-year-old defenseman has agreed on a two-year, $1.95 million deal with the Philadelphia Flyers, according to CSN Philly.

Manning’s hearing was scheduled for next Tuesday. He was the last restricted free agent on the Flyers, after Brayden Schenn re-signed Monday.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman was the first to report the Manning signing.

Manning played 56 games for the Flyers in 2015-16, his first full season in the NHL. He had one goal and six assists while logging an average ice time of 16:32.

Report: Blackhawks, Rundblad agree to terminate contract

DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 09:  David Rundblad #5 of the Chicago Blackhawks in the second period at American Airlines Center on October 9, 2014 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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The Chicago Blackhawks are reportedly parting ways with defenseman David Rundblad. The two sides have agreed to a contract termination, according to Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Rundblad, 25, was set to earn $1.1 million this season, per General Fanager. His cap hit was $1.05 million, meaning the ‘Hawks will gain $100,000 in cap space by not having to bury his contract in the AHL next season.

Rundblad was unlikely to make the Blackhawks in 2016-17 — not after the additions of Brian Campbell and Michal Kempny, and also the re-signing of Michal Rozsival.

It remains to be seen where Rundblad will end up. One possibility is back in Switzerland, where he spent part of last season before dressing three times for the ‘Hawks in the playoffs.