Predators unveil new jersey at their annual “Skate of the Union”

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Nashville fans got a taste of the changes that were in store at the NHL draft when draft picks were wearing the new away jersey. Today, at the Predators’ annual “Skate of the Union” offseason event, the team unveiled their brand new home jerseys for the 2011-12 season. Please be warned: you may want to find some sunglasses before you take a look at the pictures. Another word of advice—do not look directly at the jersey if you wish to avoid long term retina damage.

You can also see the new jerseys here and here.

The jersey’s are certainly distinctive as the team goes back to incorporating yellow back into their color scheme (which is noticeably absent in the current 3rd jerseys). Also, the jersey’s look about 100 times better than the old mustard yellow jerseys the team had a few years ago—an awful design that must have cost the team thousands in attendance each year. It may not have been that bad, but it wasn’t like fans were clamoring to get their hands on a mustard yellow XL with Arnott plastered on the back.

Jermey K. Gover from Section303.com had a sneak peak and has already shared his take on the new threads:

“Let me take a second and say that the pictures only do it only a shade of justice. The jersey is stunning. And I’ll be the first to tell you that when I saw the leaked photos a few weeks ago, my immediate reaction (which was out loud, by the way) was “oh no.” My reaction when I saw the jersey this afternoon was the exact opposite. So judge what you will with this photos, but wait until you see it in person. It’ll blow you away.”

The “Skate of the Union” gathering involved much more than just a new jersey. Team chairman Tom Ciggaran told fans that CEO Jeff Cogan started to target the Atlanta market within 48 hours of the Thrashers move. GM David Poile said hotshot prospects Ryan Ellis and Roman Josi were “knocking on the door” at the Development camp and have a shot at making the team out of training camp. All in all, it was a festival type atmosphere to give fans in Nashville their hockey fix in the middle of July.

After taking a look at the new yellow home jerseys, what do you think? Do you think they bring a great and distinctive look to Nashville or do you think the designers completely missed the mark? Let us know…

Coyotes fire assistant coach Newell Brown

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The Arizona Coyotes have parted ways with some personnel.

Assistant coach Newell Brown has been fired, along with Doug Soetaert, who was the general manager of their AHL affiliate in Tuscon.

Pro scouts David MacLean and Jim Roque won’t be back either. Their contracts will not be renewed.

“I’d like to thank Newell, Doug, David and Jim for their contributions to the club,” said GM John Chayka. “They are all good people but we believe these changes are necessary in order to improve our organization. We wish them the best in the future.”

A longtime NHL assistant coach, Brown is perhaps the most prominent of the four men. He joined the Coyotes in the summer of 2013 and received high praise for his work with their power play.

But Arizona’s power play slipped to 26th this past season, converting at a rate of just 16.2 percent.

As for Soetaert, he was only named GM of the Roadrunners last summer. The former NHL goalie had previously been a scout.

Plenty of seats available for tonight’s game in Ottawa

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The Ottawa Senators say they’re still expecting a full house, but Ticketmaster’s website shows plenty of available seats for tonight’s second-round opener with the New York Rangers.

From the Ottawa Citizen:

Many of the available tickets for Thursday’s game were in the corners of the upper bowl, seats that carry a $96 price tag.

The Senators sold out all three games in the opening round of the playoffs against Boston. Game 1 drew a crowd of 18,702, while 18,629 showed up for Game 2 and 19,209 were in the seats for Game 5.

Attendance has been an issue in Ottawa — or, more specifically, suburban Kanata — all season, to the point owner Eugene Melnyk expressed great frustration with the lack of sellouts at Canadian Tire Centre.

Poor attendance also led to friction behind the scenes. At least, it sure sounded that way in the lawsuit that was filed against the team by its former chief marketing officer.

Poor attendance is why the Sens are trying to get a new downtown arena built. They believe that a more central location is the key to bigger crowds.

But regardless of the arena’s location, it won’t be a good look if there are empty seats tonight. This is the playoffs, and the Senators are one of eight remaining teams in the hunt for the Stanley Cup. The building should be full.

Related: Melnyk thinks Sens can make deep playoff run

McPhee won’t bring Stanley, Vegas’ lucky golden rooster, to draft lottery

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There’s no way any lede I write will do this Review-Journal anecdote justice, so yeah, just read it:

[Vegas GM George] McPhee still has his superstitions like any former athlete. But don’t expect him to be rubbing a rabbit’s foot or holding a bunch of 4-leaf clovers in his pocket.

And he decided to leave Stanley the Rooster home rather than try and explain to Canadian Customs officials why the gift given to the team by the Mandarin Oriental back in February during Chinese New Year should be allowed into the country as a good luck prop.

The draft lottery goes Saturday in Toronto, at 7:30 p.m. ET. Vegas won’t drop any lower than sixth and has a 10.3 percent shot at the No. 1 overall pick, behind Colorado (18 percent) and Vancouver (12.1 percent). Arizona also has a 10.3 percent chance at getting top spot.

Hagelin making ‘significant steps’ in returning to Pens lineup

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It’s been nearly six weeks since Carl Hagelin last suited up for the Penguins.

His return sounds like it’s on the horizon.

Hagelin, out since Mar. 10 with a lower-body injury, was deemed “close” to coming back by Pens head coach Mike Sullivan, just ahead of tonight’s Game 1 against Washington.

“[Hagelin] is a day-to-day decision at this point,” Sullivan said. “He took limited contact this morning. The next step, obviously, will be the full contact approach.

“He is certainly making significant steps in the right direction here.”

The speedy Swede missed the final 16 games of the regular season with his ailment, and all five games in Pittsburgh’s opening-round win against the Blue Jackets. The end result was just six goals and 22 points in 61 games played, down from the impressive stretch he had last season after being acquired from Anaheim.

Pittsburgh is hopeful the 28-year-old can rejoin the team, and provide similar production as last year’s playoff run. Hagelin had six goals and 16 points in 24 games en route to hoisting the Stanley Cup.

Hagelin isn’t the only veteran forward that could make his return this season. Earlier this week, the Pens announced winger Chris Kunitz had been cleared for contact, and is available for the Washington series.