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Thrashers announcement probably won’t come by Tuesday, Hawks exclusivity window closes

As Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz said, it seems like it will just be a matter of time before we hear an official announcement that the Atlanta Thrashers will relocate to Winnipeg. Earlier today, Joe passed along word that the final potential local owner who could keep the Thrashers in Atlanta is fading from the picture. Here are two more updates on that situation.

  • Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said it’s “safe to say” that an announcement regarding the deal won’t come by Tuesday. True North and the Atlanta Spirit already reportedly agreed to a $170 million price tag (with $60 million going to the NHL as a relocation fee), but there are still a few hurdles to clear. Vivlamore points out that Monday is Queen Victoria Day in Canada, a bank holiday that probably stood in the way of certain elements being completed.

There are still a few things to sort out, perhaps most notably being an affirmative vote by the NHL Board of Governors. Whether an announcement comes Tuesday, later this week or any other time, we’ll keep you updated.

  • As we’ve mentioned before, the chances of a local group keeping the Thrashers in Atlanta keep getting slimmer. There is a small nugget of decent news for people keeping the dream alive, though.

The Atlanta Spirit and San Diego Padres owner John Moores closed their window of exclusivity regarding the sale of the Atlanta Hawks, according to Tim Tucker. The closing of that window opens up the possibility of a buyer gobbling up a package deal that would include the Thrashers, Hawks and the home of both teams: Phillips Arena.

Making such a deal might produce a better chance to produce profits than owning the Thrashers alone, but Tucker reports that the Atlanta Spirit said that a qualified buyer hasn’t emerged to purchase all three entities. (Obviously the entire package deal would be prohibitively expensive and arguably an even bigger risk for an ownership group.)

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The lifting of that exclusivity window can allow people to hope for a last minute miracle, but logic still points to a Thrashers move. Stick with PHT for updates on this situation as it heats up this week (and beyond).

Capitals accuse Letang of leaving his feet, hitting Johansson in head

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Get this: the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins seem divided on the legality of Kris Letang‘s hit on Marcus Johansson.

(Take a moment to gather your thoughts amid this shocking revelation.)

You can watch the hit over and over in the video above. This post features some takes on that check, which the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is reportedly reviewing.

Generally speaking, the three things people discuss regarding the check is how late it might be, if Letang used his feet and if Johansson’s head was the principal point of contact.

Letang told his side of the story:

The Capitals disagree:

While Barry Trotz pleads the Fifth after his previous comments about Brooks Orpik‘s suspension:

No doubt about it, Letang’s status is the top story to follow in this series between Games 3 and 4. We’ll find out soon enough how it all shakes out.

Penguins ride Murray’s masterpiece to 2-1 series lead vs. Capitals

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If Marc-Andre Fleury suiting up bothers Matt Murray, then the rookie goalie channeled those feelings into a masterful performance on Monday.

The Washington Capitals absolutely dominated Game 3, but Murray was even better, stopping 47 shots as the Penguins stole one 3-2 to take a 2-1 series lead.

(Capitals fans might see some parallels to Washington’s Game 5 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers; they fell 2-0 despite a 44-11 shots on goal edge thanks to Michal Neuvirth‘s heroics.)

Murray stopped chance after chance before Alex Ovechkin finally broke through for his first goal of this series. Justin Williams then brought the Penguins’ lead down to 3-2 to make for a hold-your-breath final minute.

A driven Ovechkin and strong overall play from the Capitals (despite this defeat) aren’t the only reasons why Game 4 might present some twists.

First things first: Kris Letang might get suspended for Game 4 (if not for more than one game) thanks to this controversial check on Marcus Johansson.

Beyond that, there could be some bumps and bruises from this contest.

Bryan Rust left during the first period and didn’t return to the game after blocking a shot. Brian Dumoulin seemed shaken up after an Alex Ovechkin hit in the third period. The Capitals might have a player or two to look at, as well.

In other words, the Penguins could really lack for quality defensemen with Letang possibly suspended and possible injury absences for Dumoulin and Olli Maatta.

This series is living up to the hype … and really building up the hate.

Yes, NHL is reportedly looking at Letang’s hit on Johansson

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It remains to be seen if Kris Letang will get suspended for his hit on Marcus Johansson … and if he does, for how long.

(You can read initial reactions and some analysis about the specifics of the check vs. the one that got Brooks Orpik suspended here.)

There are a few things we do know already.

For one thing, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is reportedly looking into it.

Another factor that could help Letang avoid a suspension or limit the duration of supplemental discipline: Marcus Johansson returned during the second period.

In fact, Johansson delivered some hits on Letang.

There have been some nasty moments in Game 3, and more might be coming. The Penguins lead 2-0 with a few minutes remaining in the middle frame.

Kris Letang may face suspension for hit on Marcus Johansson

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Update: Reports indicate that the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is indeed looking into the hit.

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As thrilling as this Pittsburgh Penguins – Washington Capitals series has been, it seems like every game presents another controversial hit.

Game 3’s most noteworthy entry (so far?) came when Kris Letang was whistled for interference on Marcus Johansson.

Penguins fans griped that Brooks Orpik didn’t get a major penalty for his hit on Olli Maatta … now Capitals fans likely feel the same about the check Letang delivered.

Watch it in the video above. Also, Stefanie “My Regular Face” has it in GIF form:

Things could get ugly in Game 3:

One factor in a suspension happening – or at least the duration of the suspension – would be what the point of contact was:

Also, lateness of the check:

The Penguins ended the first period up 2-0 against the Capitals, even though Washington played one of its best 20 minutes of the series. Expect more drama.

Update: The Penguins won the game 3-2.

Read reactions to the check here.