Matthew Hulsizer

Here we go again: Matthew Hulsizer drops bid to buy the Phoenix Coyotes

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Winnipeg might have a new team, but the ongoing saga in Arizona with the Phoenix Coyotes continues on into an embarrassing situation.

Phoenix Business Journal reports today that prospective buyer, Chicago businessman Matthew Hulsizer, is dropping his bid to buy the team from the NHL.

Mike Sunnucks has the report from the desert where the circus side show in how not to sell a team rolls onward.

The official, who asked not to be identified, said the Hulsizer ownership group did not want to go through another several-month process of Glendale trying to sell the Coyotes to their group or other potential owners.

Sources familiar with the deal said late last week that Glendale was talking to Hulsizer and two other potential owners: Chicago Bulls and White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf and another unnamed group.

Rewind back to two summers ago and you’ll remember when Jerry Reinsdorf was initially brought in to be the savior of hockey in the desert. Reinsdorf seemingly feigned interest in doing so just to help move the calendar along and open the door for Ice Edge Holdings to step in and try to do their part and buy the team. Of course, Ice Edge Holdings couldn’t come to a deal and while they spun their tires in the sand, that bought time for Matthew Hulsizer to move in.

Hulsizer’s actions made fans and members of the City of Glendale city council feel overjoyed and excited to have a guy that cared about the team and wanted to see them stay in Arizona… At a price. Hulsizer was willing to put up close to $100 million of his own money to buy the team, but with the cost of debt rising for the team being owned by the NHL, so did the price to purchase the foundering organization.

With the price of the team jumping up to more than $190 million Hulsizer sought help from the City of Glendale to buy the team in the form of $100 million in a parking plan for the Westgate City Center that would see that cost slowly paid out over the years. That plan, however, has been challenged endlessly by the Goldwater Institute as they viewed it a violation of the state’s gift clause. With that plan tabled and more hoops to jump through for Hulsizer, he’s on the way out and potentially looking at other buying opportunities. With the St. Louis Blues in need of new money and New Jersey Devils looking for a new minority investor in the team, Hulsizer will have better chances there.

With the Coyotes back at square one once again and their future in doubt, there’s one bit of solace Coyotes fans can take out of this: There isn’t an immediate outside buyer for the team that’s looking to grab the team and move them out of Arizona. With True North now owning the Winnipeg Jets, formerly the Atlanta Thrashers, there’s no immediate pressure to get something done. If there are no buyers, the pressure is on the NHL to find them be they interested in staying in Arizona or not. Right now, Glendale will go back to Reinsdorf to see if he can save them. The amount of stock you can put into believing the part about a “mystery buyer” with interest is about as believable as a fairy tale.

This situation in Phoenix is a disaster and the fact that Hulsizer is out after the City of Glendale opted to pony up $25 million for the second year in a row based upon their faith that Hulsizer would get a deal done is embarrassing all around. The Glendale City Council comes off looking like a band of fools, Hulsizer looks bad even though it’s more on the City of Glendale for running him around with nonsense, and once again Coyotes fans are left holding the bag and having to continue worrying about what’s going on with their team. While there’s no reason to fret about the team leaving this time, being in complete limbo about the future isn’t any fun either.

Things need to change here and unfortunately for Coyotes fans, the one way this madness ends could be if an outside buyer comes in and whisks the team away somewhere else. That’s a miserable end game for everyone involved.

Lightning, Islanders make East playoff races even more confusing

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 01: Ben Bishop #30 of the Tampa Bay Lightning makes the third period save as Ryan Strome #18 of the New York Islanders looks for a rebound at the Barclays Center on November 1, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Whenever you groan at what seems like a quiet trade market, take a step back and ask yourself this: “Who is really out of it?”

For a while there, it felt reasonable to dismiss the chances of teams like the Florida Panthers, New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning. Now? There’s probably only a handful of teams that can really be comfortable, at this very point, with calling themselves sellers.

The Islanders took care of their business with a 3-1 win against the fading (probably selling?) Detroit Red Wings, even with Petr Mrazek making a save like this.

Meanwhile, Ben Bishop might just be putting his game together (while Nikita Kucherov‘s game remains very much together) as the Tampa Bay Lightning throttled the Edmonton Oilers 4-1. Bishop might just end up being indispensable – or at least not worth trading – as he’s on a five-game winning streak.

With those wins, the races for the last seemingly available Eastern Conference playoff spots just get that much muddier.*

Third place in the Atlantic: Maple Leafs – 67 points in 59 games, 28 wins, 27 ROW

Second wild card: Panthers – 66 points in 58 GP, 28 W, 25 ROW

Bruins – 66 points in 59 GP, 30 W, 28 ROW
Islanders – 66 points in 59 GP, 28 W, 27 ROW
Flyers – 63 points in 59 GP, 28 W, 23 ROW
Lightning – 62 points in 59 GP, 27 W, 25 ROW
Sabres – 62 points in 60 GP, 26 W, 25 ROW

Wow, that’s crazy-close. Naturally, teams like the Islanders and Flyers lack the luxury of having a third spot in reasonable reach – unless things get truly wild – but that’s quite the congested group of playoff hopefuls.

And, sure, the Bolts are among those facing longer odds, but the way things keep swinging wildly this season, who knows? Especially with a team with a track record of success and high expectations like the Lightning.

* – We’ll arbitrarily cut off the East race at the Devils, but just in case you’re wondering, they have 60 points, the Red Wings have 58 and the Hurricanes have 56. Also, the Ottawa Senators hold the second spot in the Atlantic with 70 points and the Montreal Canadiens lead the division with 72, so that group could see quite a bit of movement over the last quarter of the season.

Forsberg’s hat trick, own-goal highlights Predators’ wild OT loss to Flames

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If you want to summarize the kind of night the Nashville Predators experienced, you could do worse than to draw parallels to Filip Forsberg‘s experiences.

The highs were quite high, you see. Forsberg & Co. carved away at the Calgary Flames’ 4-1 lead as his hat trick (see above) eventually gave the Predators a fleeting 5-4 edge.

We all should have seen more drama coming … and it did. Forsberg ended up being at the wrong place at the wrong time in overtime; the Flames’ 6-5 overtime winner ended up going off of his foot. Ouch.

Mark Giordano ended up being credited with that goal. The game was just a barn-burner.

While it was an up-and-down night for both the Flames and Predators, Pekka Rinne‘s evening was pretty much uniformly dismal.

Rinne was pulled early in the second period after giving up four goals on 13 shots, making way for Juuse Saros (who actually ended up gtting tagged with the loss).

The Flames can breathe a sigh of relief after winning the game despite coughing up a big lead, improving to 64 points and strengthening their grip on the second wild card spot. That “charity point” comes in handy for Nashville, leaving the Predators with 65 points and a game in hand on the Flames.

Serious performance: Blackhawks gain on Wild thanks to Toews’ five points

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If the Chicago Blackhawks are going to make up some serious ground and overtake the Minnesota Wild for the Central Division title, they’ll need wins like these.

It’s only fitting that “Captain Serious” Jonathan Toews did the heavy lifting, generating a hat trick and two assists as the Blackhawks beat the Wild 5-3 on Tuesday.

Yes, Toews was involved in every goal. And yes, the Blackhawks won this one in regulation after beating the Wild in overtime last time around. It’s a nice swing for Chicago:

Central Division title chase

1. Wild – 84 points in 59 games (39 wins, 36 ROW)
2. Blackhawks – 79 points in 60 games (37 wins, 35 ROW)

Yeah, that’s still a substantial edge for Minnesota … but this is a significant swing.

Even beyond the name recognition that comes with Toews & Co., the Blackhawks’ push shouldn’t be surprising. They’re red-hot in February so far, going 7-1-0 despite playing seven of eight on the road (strangely losing that lone home contest).

The Wild have played reasonably well in their own right, yet this loss sends them into a bye week with some frustration … and maybe some questions about whether they can hold the Blackhawks off.

Also, tonight marked a nice milestone for Joel Quenneville:

Matthews, Leafs get last laugh in OT vs. Laine and the Jets

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Hockey fans tend to get their radars up about over-hyping things, particularly promising rookies.

Is it hasty, then, to wonder if there’s something to a rivalry between Auston Matthews (and the Maple Leafs) vs. Patrik Laine (plus the Jets)? If nothing else, the two have come up big in two very exciting games.

Back in October, Laine generated a hat trick as the Jets beat the Maple Leafs 5-4 in overtime. This time around, it was another 5-4 overtime decision … only Matthews and the Maple Leafs took this round.

This isn’t to take anything away from Laine’s performance, mind you. He scored two goals on Tuesday, becoming the rare modern rookie to muster 30 goals. He reminded hockey fans that he only needs the smallest window to make you pay with his deadly, world-class shot.

MORE on that goal and the violence that ensued here.

But Matthews wouldn’t be denied, either, and fittingly did so in a quieter fashion. (Virtually everyone seems a little quieter when Laine’s around, it seems.)

The Maple Leafs’ outstanding rookie managed three assists in this game, giving him 52 points in 59 games. He also has six points in a three-game run and eight in his past five.

Laine? He now has 54 points in 55 games, extending is own point streak to five games (seven goals, three assists).

In other words, it’s really close … just like the games when these two budding stars (and their young, promising teammates) meet.

You might even be tempted to believe the hype.