While many fans will criticize the Atlanta market for the very likely relocation of its second NHL franchise, people with more intimate knowledge blame ownership. Ultimately, the Atlanta Spirit never really did what was necessary to put a strong Atlanta Thrashers team on the ice. The team only made the playoffs once and failed to earn a single postseason win in that trip.
(It’s not like the Atlanta Spirit have been particularly outstanding at running the Atlanta Hawks, either. Joe Johnson is a talented basketball player no doubt, but giving him a $100 million contract is baffling.)
Still, one could give the Atlanta Spirit a break if they handled things with a bit more class. Instead, there are reports that they continue to sell tickets amid all the writing-on-the-wall rumors.
Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta-Journal Constitution reports the Thrashers are still selling season tickets today, with one being sold. (I guess that person or business group doesn’t follow the news very closely, do they?) The Atlanta-Journal constitution also runs a regular “Ice Man” column that provides a fan’s perspective via Ben Tiller, who wrote this about the team continuing to run their regular “Select-a-Seat” promotion on Saturday.
Finally, to the members of the AS, LLC I make this challenge. If the reports are true and you have been plotting and scheming for months to rip this franchise from this community, then cancel the Select A Seat event scheduled for tomorrow. Do not continue this ruse…this deception…this scam …this tease one day longer. Do not accept a single dollar for tickets to games for a season you know will not happen in Atlanta.
In short, do the decent, honorable and upright thing…for once…and let the fans know today the truth of the situation. Don’t give an eager media looking to depict the turnout misrepresent the reality of the situation.
That way, you can at least say you were up-front and honest with us if even just this once in your disastrous seven years as owners…and Saturday afternoon can be a time of support, remembering and good-byes for those who plan on gathering at the Gulch.
Somehow, given the history, I’m not holding my breath …”
As Tiller pointed out earlier in his column, that Select-a-Seat event would likely attract local media members to document a moment that would make the Atlanta Spirit look rather silly. Thrashers fans are planning a rally to save the team for tomorrow, but with last night’s rumors and word that ownership is trying to squeeze every last buck out of the situation, it’s tough to imagine that rally being particularly spirited on Saturday.
It turns out that Tomas Tatar‘s days are numbered with the Detroit Red Wings by almost 1,500.*
After a salary arbitration hearing and concerns that he might leave after a single season, “Band-Aid” sort of deal, a wide variety of reporters state that the two sides instead agreed to a four-year deal with a $5.3 million cap hit, which would total $21.2 million.
Those figures come from MLive.com’s Ansar Khan, the Detroit News’ Ted Kulfan, FanRag’s Craig Morgan, and Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. It will be noted if the Red Wings make the term and/or financial details official.
Here’s the reported yearly breakdown (cue ominous music for that lockout-protection drop in 2020-21), via Morgan:
Again, this feels like a change in viewpoint, as even just yesterday it was reasonable to wonder if Tatar would only stick around for 2017-18. Now, it is possible that Tatar might get traded at some point, but a four-year deal is a bit surprising. The forward himself speculated that a one-year deal would be it.
This contract makes Tatar, 26, the Red Wings’ second-most expensive forward from a cap perspective, trailing only Henrik Zetteberg’s $6.083 million.
Even with this deal out of the way, Red Wings GM Ken Holland still has some work to do, including re-signing speedy forward Andreas Athanasiou. And the situation is tight.
* – Four times 365 is 1,460. Get it?
The good news is that Tommy Wingels is expected to be ready for Chicago Blackhawks training camp. The bad news is that he’ll be limited in his training regimen … although that very regimen caused him issues in the first place.
Dr. Michael Terry, the Blackhawks’ team doctor, released the following update regarding Wingels:
“Tommy Wingels sustained a left foot fracture during his off-season training. We anticipate a full recovery in six to eight weeks and in time for training camp. We do not anticipate any long-term issues.”
It’s unclear what caused the specific injury. Dropped weight? Unlucky fall? Perhaps a stress fracture? Without knowing the exact issue, it’s tempting to picture various painful scenarios.
(Probably because we’re in the dog days of the hockey summer, too.)
Wingels, 29, is on a one-year deal with Chicago, carrying a $750K salary and cap hit. He last played for the Ottawa Senators, though Blackhawks fans are most likely to remember him from his lengthy stay with the San Jose Sharks.
Six-to-eight weeks seems like it wouldn’t give a ton of room for error, so we’ll see if he’ll actually be ready for training camp.
Defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, potentially the NHL’s first overall draft pick in 2018, will suit up for Sweden at the World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Michigan.
Dahlin, who doesn’t turn 18 until April, has wowed scouts with his skating and puck-moving ability. At the 2017 World Juniors, he participated as a 16-year-old, garnering tantalizing reviews in the process.
Top-10 picks in the 2017 draft, Elias Pettersson (5th, Vancouver Canucks) and Lias Andersson (7th, New York Rangers), will also be in Plymouth representing Sweden.
Click here for Sweden’s and Finland’s Summer Showcase rosters. The tournament runs from July 29 – Aug. 5 and also features players from the United States and Canada.
Among the draft-eligible Finns to watch is 17-year-old forward Jesse Ylonen, who could be a late first-rounder in 2018.
Related: USA Hockey invites 42 players to World Junior Summer Showcase
Leslie Alexander’s decision to sell the NBA’s Rockets has revived hope for a hockey team in Houston.
That’s because Alexander is arguably the biggest reason that Houston doesn’t already have a team. The 72-year-old billionaire controls Toyota Center, where the Rockets play. Without getting into all the details, he’s essentially been the only one who could bring an NHL franchise to the city.
From the Houston Press:
But Alexander selling the Rockets (and the lease that goes with it), opens up an NHL-ready hockey arena in Houston. And that’s something that Seattle, which the NHL seemed to favor, can’t offer, and unlike Quebec City, Houston offers up a huge media market with many, many large corporations around to buy up luxury seats.
Houston is certainly a big city. In fact, only four metro areas in the United States — New York, L.A., Chicago and Dallas — have higher populations.
And Houston is growing fast.
Jeremy Jacobs, the influential owner of the Boston Bruins, has not hidden his desire to put an NHL team in Toyota Center. Back in 2015, he told ESPN.com, “I would love to see one in Houston, but we can’t get into that building.”
Perhaps soon the NHL won’t have that impediment.
FanRag’s Cat Silverman wrote extensively about this topic yesterday. To learn more, give it a read.