Dallas Stars v Carolina Hurricanes

Hurricanes owner continues to look for new investors, says team ‘broke even’ in 2010-11

It’s pretty tough to believe that two teams blew opportunities to clinch playoff berths in their final contests of the 2010-11 season. The Dallas Stars could have robbed the Chicago Blackhawks of a spot after the ‘Hawks dropped a game to the Detroit Red Wings on NBC, but the Stars whiffed in a game against the Wild in Minnesota. A similar scenario played out the night before, as the New York Rangers beat the New Jersey Devils, forcing the Carolina Hurricanes to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning to make the playoffs.

Of course, the Lightning decided that they wouldn’t allow their division neighbors to make the postseason without a fight. Tampa Bay throttled Carolina 6-2, crushing the Canes’ playoff dreams with a resounding thud.

Even with that tough-to-stomach conclusion in mind, the 2010-11 season brought some positives to the Hurricanes franchise and fans. For one thing, 2011 NHL All-Star Game seemed like a celebration of the market’s interest in the sport. As it turns out, the Hurricanes also avoided losing money. The Charlotte Observer passes along owner Peter Karamanos Jr.’s claims that the team “broke even” last season, even without making the playoffs.

Despite the Hurricanes missing the Stanley Cup playoffs last season, the team broke even financially, Karmanos said. The Canes were one victory away from reaching the playoffs but lost their last regular-season game at home 6-2 to the Tampa Bay Lightning, which advanced to the Eastern Conference finals.

“That was not one of my brightest moments,” Karmanos said the final-game disappointment. “But we played a lot of meaningful games at the end of the season and at least we got to the last game with a chance. If we had gotten in the playoffs, I really think we’d have fared as well as Tampa.”

Karamanos has been hoping to sell at least a portion of his stake in the team for quite a few years now. Karamanos revealed that 9-10 people might buy a 15-20 percent stake in the Hurricanes.

Karmanos said all of the investors were based locally, although he did not name any of the individuals. In February, he said he hoped to have as many as 20 or 30 new partners, each investing $1 million to $3 million.

“We won’t have quite that many, but the ones we will have will invest closer to the higher number ($3 million) than the lower,” Karmanos said in an interview. “Things are going pretty well. We have had a lot of local people who have shown interest. It doesn’t hurt that Forbes calls Raleigh one of the best places to do business and live.

“We’re still in the process of going through all the legal documents. It’s moving along well. These are people who want to see the Hurricanes thrive and understand their involvement will give the Hurricanes even more exposure in the community.”

Karamanos seemed to argue against the Hurricanes being a “budget team,” but right now they appear to be one because they’re close to the salary cap floor with little indication that they’ll spend much more soon. GM Jeremy Rutherford was probably wise not to match the Montreal Canadiens’ hefty offer toward Erik Cole, but it’s doubtful that the team improved a whole lot this off-season. That could make a playoff run difficult next season considering the strength of the Southeast Division’s two powers (Tampa Bay and Washington), the possibility of improvement by Florida and the mystery in the making that is the Winnipeg Jets.

That being said, it’s heartening to hear that the Hurricanes didn’t need to make the playoffs to be a reasonable success at the box office last season. Perhaps that will help Karamanos find some investors who can allow the team to spend the money to make them a bigger threat on the ice in the future.

(H/T to Canes Country, which discusses the Hurricanes’ potential to turn a profit a bit more.)

Sabres extend Larsson: one year, $950,000

BUFFALO, NY - JANUARY 22: Johan Larsson #22 of the Buffalo Sabres warms up before the game against the Detroit Red Wings on January 22, 2016 at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Tom Brenner/Getty Images)
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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) The Buffalo Sabres have re-signed forward Johan Larsson to a one-year contract.

Larsson was eligible to become a restricted free agent once his contract expired this summer. The Swedish-born player is coming off a season in which he set career bests with 10 goals, 17 points and 74 games. He also finished tied with rookie center Jack Eichel in scoring five game-winning goals.

Overall, he has 16 goals and 21 assists in 142 games for the Sabres.

Buffalo acquired Larsson in a trade that sent former Sabres captain Jason Pominville to Minnesota in April 2013. The Wild selected Larsson in the second round of the 2010 draft.

Contractual details, per the Buffalo News:

Burke: Once a team picks first overall, no more drafting first overall (for a few years at least)

Calgary Flames' President of Hockey Operations & acting GM, Brian Burke speaks to the media as team members show up for NHL hockey season-end activities in Calgary, Alberta, on Monday, April 14, 2014. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Larry MacDougal)
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Brian Burke isn’t trying to pick on the Edmonton Oilers — no really, he isn’t — but Calgary’s president of hockey ops doesn’t believe any team should get to draft first overall as much as his northern rivals have done the past few years.

“If you’re a team that picks first overall, you shouldn’t be allowed to pick first overall for some specified period … three years or five years, whatever … or even the top two teams, pick in the top two,” Burke told the Flames’ website.

“You could still pick four or five, still get a good player, but you can’t get rewarded for continued failure, or continued luck.”

The Oilers, of course, picked first overall in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2015. And after yet another dismal season in 2015-16, they have a 13.5 percent of winning’s tomorrow’s lottery and getting the same privilege again

“Everyone thinks when you talk about the draft having flaws, that you’re picking on Edmonton,” said Burke.

“There are a lot of teams that have followed this path and have repeated high, high picks for a number of years. Chicago did it. Florida’s done it. Buffalo’s done it. You can argue we did it in Toronto, certainly by not any effort of ours. We were just not successful in the lottery. This is not an indictment of any one team and it’s not an indictment of the system.

“This is saying, ‘Okay, if 30 reasonable people got into a room and said, how do we best award amateur talent in the draft without having abuses,’ I’m not sure this is the system we’d come up with. That’s all I’m saying.”

And many would agree with Burke.

In fact, many would go a lot further, suggesting the entire system should be rethought.

But the question will remain, what’s a better system? The current one incentivizes losing, and so some teams tank. They may not use the word “tanking,” but they’re sure not trying to win. Not in the short term.

Now, is it a good look for the NHL when teams are built to be bad and we see fans openly rooting for losses? No, it’s not a good look.

But would it be preferable for each team to have the same odds of drafting first overall. Even the Stanley Cup champion?

Imagine for a moment a system that didn’t take the standings into account. You just know there’d be some poor franchise that was chronically unlucky, year after year after year. And you just know there’d be some ultra-lucky franchise, too.

The fact is, as long as the NHL wants to maintain its competitive balance — and remember, there’s nothing the NHL is prouder of than its precious parity — losing teams will be rewarded in the draft.

Burke is fine with that.

All he’s saying is the current system could use a few tweaks.

And if the Oilers win the lottery tomorrow, you can bet there’ll be some.

After firing Boudreau, Ducks GM unloads on core players

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When the Ducks were struggling this season, GM Bob Murray took some not-so-thinly veiled shots at the team’s core players.

And after the club’s disappointing first-round playoff exit to Nashville, he was at it again.

The juicy stuff, from today’s presser following the Bruce Boudreau dismissal.

(Video here):

“Let’s face it: I’d like to know where they heck they were in Games 1 and 2. The players are going to have to answer that the next four or five days. Where were they? They showed up in Game 7, but where was the passion, the controlled emotion? Where the heck was that? They’re going to have to be held accountable, too.

“There’s definite concerns in that area, and I think the core has to be held responsible, and they have to be better. Maybe I haven’t been hard enough on them in the last few years, but they’re going to hear some different words this time.”

Murray then shared a few of those “different words” with the assembled media.

If you’re looking for one of the core guys Murray may be referring to, consider Corey Perry.

Having just wrapped the third of an eight-year, $69 million deal with a $8.625M cap hit (that’s a long-term contract, right?), Perry failed to score over the seven-game series against the Preds, and had a team-worst minus-7 rating.

Say what you will about the merits of plus-minus, but minus-7  is minus-7. It’s not good. Hard to see how it could be viewed positively.

Of course, there’s no doubt other core guys are in Murray’s crosshairs. But it’s not just about core guys making big money and failint to produce in crunch time. It’s also about core guys making big money, failing in crunch time and not going anywhere.

Because that affects the futures of the players around them.

Some of Murray’s anger — justifiably — comes with the long-terms deals he’s got on the books, and how they’ll likely hamstring the Ducks this summer. He’s already on record saying this will be an “interesting” offseasonHampus Lindholm, Sami Vatanen, Rickard Rakell and Frederik Andersen are all RFAs, and it’s quite conceivable one or two won’t be with back in Anaheim for the start of training camp.

Had the Ducks made a legit playoff run, it would’ve taken the sting away from (potentially) losing players.

But now?

Consider what Murray said about retaining Rakell, who finished fourth on the team in scoring.

“In keeping certain people, other people may have to go,” he explained, per the Associated Press. “That’s what you get forced into. A couple of big contracts get signed, and you end up following because that’s what you get pushed into, and that’s what they expect.

“We are all guilty of that.”

Blues, Capitals to play exhibition game in Kansas City

Pedestrians walk past the Sprint Center, Sunday, March 24, 2013, in Kansas City, Mo. The city was preparing for the third round of the NCAA college basketball tournament at the arena after the region received 6-10 inches of snow overnight. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
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Kansas City is going to host another NHL exhibition game.

The St. Louis Blues announced today that they’ll take on the Washington Capitals on Oct. 5 at Sprint Center. Both Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Ovechkin will be there, at least according to the press release.

The Blues last played in K.C. a couple of years ago when they took on the Stars in exhibition play. In 2011, a sellout crowd watched the Penguins and Kings at Sprint Center.

A market once considered a candidate for expansion or relocation — particularly after Sprint Center opened in 2007 — the NHL-to-Kansas City buzz has since died down. Last year, there was no interest from Kansas City when the league called for expansion applications.

Sensing an opportunity to make their team a favorite of all Missourians, not just the ones in St. Louis, the Blues have said they’d like to cultivate their fan base across the state in Kansas City.