Should Winnipeg name their team the Jets? Andrew Ladd sees both sides of argument

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If you ask many observers, True North Sports and Entertainment would be crazy not to name the relocated Atlanta Thrashers the Winnipeg Jets.

First and (you would think?) foremost, it’s what the fans want. Yes, it’s true that True North already banked on a staggering commitment from locals to look up 13,000 season tickets for multiple years in the blink of an eye. Still, merchandise sales* and general fan happiness are factors they should absolutely keep in mind and naming the team the Jets will leave a lot of customers pleased.

On the other hand, True North has some reasons to shy away from the Jets name. One big reason would be that they want to make it their own team, so piggybacking on an old idea might take some of the personal satisfaction away. Perhaps a more pertinent reason to go with a different title is that some might think that the Jets name carries a stain of failure with it. Maybe the best way to avoid a similar fate is to wipe the slate clean altogether?

Andrew Ladd sees both sides, discusses restricted free agent status

The Winnipeg Sun caught up with Andrew Ladd to get his take on the subject. Ladd makes an interesting brain to pick; he was last season’s team captain but also remains an unrestricted free agent. If he follows the team to Winnipeg, would he prefer to be a Jet, Moose or some other wacky mascot? It seems like he understands the logic from both sides of the equation.

“I’d love it. It’s got history,” Ladd, the first member of the former Atlanta Thrashers to hit town, said, Thursday. “I was talking to (former Chicago teammate and Winnipegger) Cam Barker the other day, and he was like, ‘There might be a riot if they go in a differnt direction.’ I’m a big fan of the name.

“But it’s a new group, and I don’t think the success was there in the past and we want to start something new here, too.”

It’s interesting to get his perspective on the team’s new mascot, but it’s probably more important to focus on his thoughts on free agency.

Scheduled to become a restricted free agent, July 1, Ladd told reporters he hasn’t begun negotiations on a new contract with Kevin Cheveldayoff, but likes what he heard of the vision of the newly hired GM Thursday morning.

“And I trust it, too, which is a big thing,” Ladd said. “You need to trust people you’re going to work with and know that you’re in good hands. I have a lot of respect for Chevy and looking forward to working with him.”

Ladd’s negotiations could be rather interesting. He’s a restricted free agent, so much of the power is in Winnipeg’s corner. It might come down to how close the team thinks he’ll come to matching his surprising 29-goal output from the 2010-11 season.

Can Ladd duplicate his success from the 2010-11 season?

There are some reasons to think he can approach that level in future seasons. He reached the 49 point mark in 08-09 (just 10 short of last year’s 59) and he has the pedigree (Carolina made him the fourth overall pick of the 2004 draft) to indicate that he could be a legitimate producer. This was also the best chance he had to produce at the NHL level; he played a little more than 20 minutes per game in 10-11 (almost six minutes more than his career time on ice average of 14:23).

Then again, it’s probably true that he’s not an ideal option as a first liner. He also produced those numbers in a contract year, which is always a red flag for teams weary of getting burned.

Will Ladd be a Jet or whatever True North names the Winnipeg team? Could he play somewhere else entirely in 2011-12? We’ll find out the answers to both questions soon enough.

* – Some people might counter that a) people already own a bunch of Jets memorabilia and b) they’ll likely gobble up merchandise anyway, but a simple logo re-design would solve those complaints anyway. Say what you will about the “Buffaslug,” it didn’t exactly slow down Buffalo Sabres jersey sales. Plus, let’s face it: it’s pretty tough to mess up a logo that involves jets.

Ducks send Stoner to AHL on conditioning loan

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Clayton Stoner is going to play some hockey again.

The Anaheim Ducks announced today that the 32-year-old defenseman has been assigned to AHL San Diego on a long-term injury conditioning loan.

Stoner has not played since Nov. 15. He had abdominal surgery in December, at which point the Ducks said he’d miss an additional 4-6 weeks. But a setback in his recovery extended the time frame.

“The setback was kind of just me trying to get back maybe a little bit quicker than I should,” Stoner told the O.C. Register recently. “And I wasn’t ready. Things have been good here for a little while so hopefully I’m just trying to string some days together and earn a spot back and kind of prove that I can be healthy and stay healthy.”

Panthers didn’t want to trade Crouse, but Bolland contract was ‘strangling’ them

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Interesting note here from Florida head coach Tom Rowe who, last night, watched former Panther prospect Lawson Crouse play in Florida for the first time since being traded to Arizona.

Crouse was the price the Panthers had to pay to unload Dave Bolland‘s contract on the Coyotes last summer. Rowe wasn’t involved with the Bolland signing, but was involved in dumping the contract — he was Florida’s assistant GM at the time the deal went down.

His take, from the Miami Herald:

Florida traded Crouse to the Coyotes last summer as part of a salary cap dump; Arizona took on the final three years and $16.5-million of Dave Bolland’s contract in exchange for a top prospect — in this case, Crouse.

“We got criticized for giving up on a great young prospect but we had to,” Rowe said. “That contract was strangling us, cap-wise. …

“When we traded him, our scouts were furious. I’m not going to lie. But we had to do something and that was trade Lawson. I’m sure, to this day, he’s still sour about it.”

Crouse, who Florida took 11th overall at the 2015 draft, has five goals and 11 points through 64 games this year, averaging 11:50 TOI per night. Those numbers don’t jump off the page, but they do need to be taken in context — Crouse is only 19 years old, and the 10th-youngest player to play in the NHL this season.

Bolland, meanwhile, hasn’t played since December of 2015, due to a variety of back and ankle injuries. His time in Florida was largely forgettable — after scoring the $27.5 million pact, he played just 78 games in a Panthers uniform, scoring 28 points.  It’s widely regarded as the worst deal GM Dale Tallon has made during his time with the organization.

Shortly after taking on his contract, Coyotes GM John Chayka said Bolland wouldn’t be healthy for the “foreseeable future.” The 30-year-old has two years remaining on his deal, at $5.5 million annually.

 

Arizona lawmaker suggests Coyotes pledge more money for new arena

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Arizona Senate President Steve Yarbrough does not expect a piece of legislation to pass that would give the Coyotes millions of dollars in public financing to build a new arena.

That being said, Yarbrough thinks the Coyotes may be able to gain some “traction” if they offer to put in more of their own money.

Under the current plan, the team has pledged $170 million of the arena’s total cost, which is estimated at almost $400 million. The difference would be made up by new sales taxes, plus $55 million from the still-to-be-determined host city.

“If you are getting no traction the way the bill is designed, you could see if the hockey team paid a greater portion,” Yarbrough told the Arizona Republic yesterday. “I have been around this business long enough to know that if it’s not working in this format, you change the format to make it more attractive.”

For their part, the Coyotes have not said whether they’d be willing to pay a greater portion of the project, only that they’ll continue to “work hard to find a viable arena solution in the greater Phoenix area, a market that both the club and the NHL believe is a strong hockey market capable of supporting a successful NHL franchise.”

Related: Bettman says Coyotes “cannot and will not remain in Glendale”

Into the fire: Halak, recalled yesterday, starts for Isles in Pittsburgh

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A little scene setting for you.

New York heads into tonight’s massive game in Pittsburgh sitting two points back of Boston for the final wild card in the Eastern Conference. The Isles have two games in hand on the B’s — who are idle tonight — so a win could move them into a playoff spot.

As such, the Isles will start a goalie that hasn’t played in the NHL in 85 days.

Against the league’s highest-scoring offense.

The goalie in question is Jaroslav Halak, who’s spent the last three months playing for the Isles’ AHL affiliate in Bridgeport. Recalled yesterday, Halak will now face big league competition for the first time since Dec. 29, when he allowed four goals on 24 shots in a loss to Minnesota.

(Afterward, then-head coach Jack Capuano ripped Halak, saying he gave up “some soft goals to start” and “wasn’t sharp at all.”)

But Halak’s been really good in Bridgeport.

He’s posted a 17-7-1 record with a 2.15 GAA and .925 save percentage, and a pair of shutouts. And given how spotty Berube’s play has been as Greiss’ backup, the Isles really had no other choice than to recall Halak.

The club is in the midst of a compacted part of the schedule. Greiss was excellent in Wednesday’s win over the Rangers — stopping 34 of 36 shots in a 3-2 victory — but he was also busy.

The Isles are in Pittsburgh tonight, then host the Bruins on Saturday — another massive game — then host the Preds on Monday. It’s a compact part of the schedule, and Berube’s struggles have rendered him virtually unplayable, given how meaningful the games are (and, to borrow a timeless cliche, how vital points are at this time of the year.)

So it’s Halak tonight, and possibly more down the stretch.