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.)

Isles sign Northeastern captain Stevens

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John Stevens, who just wrapped a four-year career at Northeastern University, has signed a two-year, entry-level deal with the Islanders, the club announced on Monday.

Stevens, 22, went undrafted but emerged as a valuable player for the Huskies, culminating with a senior season in which he served as captain and averaged better than a point per game (28 in 25 contests).

Stevens is the son of longtime L.A. Kings associate coach John Stevens, who formerly served as the bench boss in Philly.

A third member 0f the Stevens clan, Nolan, also played this season at Northeastern — his junior campaign — and was taken by St. Louis in the fifth round of last year’s draft.

McElhinney to start for Leafs tomorrow

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Curtis McElhinney will start in goal for the Maple Leafs when they host Florida tomorrow.

Which means Toronto’s regular starter, Frederik Andersen, will not.

Andersen, hurt Saturday in Buffalo, only lasted 20 minutes of practice this morning. The Toronto Star, citing a Leafs source, is reporting that Andersen “took a blow to his jaw from a player in Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Sabres.”

McElhinney is 4-5-0 with a .919 save percentage in 10 appearances for the Leafs this season. He told reporters that tomorrow will be the biggest start of his NHL career.

It remains to be seen who will back up McElhinney against the Panthers. The Leafs have recalled goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL on an emergency basis. All three netminders were on the ice today.

Update:

Expect Sparks to be the back-up tomorrow.

Toronto has a three-point playoff cushion, with eight games remaining.

The Leafs also recalled forward Kasperi Kapanen, the 22nd overall draft pick in 2014. Kapanen, 20, has 18 goals and 25 assists in 43 games for the Marlies this season. He’s expected to replace Ben Smith on the fourth line, alongside Brian Boyle and Matt Martin.

Habs sign d-man Mete, who ‘does everything’ for junior team

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Victor Mete, Montreal’s fourth-round pick at last year’s draft, has signed his three-year, entry-level deal, the club announced on Monday.

Mete, 18, is in his third year with OHL powerhouse London, and finished this season with 15 goals and 44 points in 50 games. He’s developed a reputation as a terrific skater, and often plays alongside fellow Knights d-man Olli Juolevi, who the Canucks took fifth overall at last year’s draft.

London assistant coach Dylan Hunter had high praise for Mete this season.

“When it comes to little nuances of his game, stick on puck, knowing when to make a play and when there isn’t a play to just get it out, he’s one of the best there is right now,” Hunter said, per the London Free Press.

“He does everything for us.”

Mete has one year of junior eligibility remaining, so it’s likely he’ll be back in London next season. At 5-foot-10 and just 180 pounds, he’s undersized and could use another year of development before turning pro.

 

After ‘great’ senior year, Pens sign Union standout Taylor

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Pittsburgh wasted little time in getting Jeff Taylor in the mix.

Taylor, the Union College senior defenseman who had his collegiate career end over the weekend, signed a two-year, entry-level deal on Monday, and also inked an ATO to join the club’s AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Taylor, the club’s seventh-round pick in 2014, enjoyed a career year at Union, helping the Dutchmen advance to the NCAA Tournament by setting career highs in goals (9) and points (33) in 38 games.

Back in December, Pens assistant GM Bill Guerin spoke glowingly about Taylor’s last collegiate campaign, saying he was in the midst of a “great” senior season.

“This is a kid we’ve been looking forward to getting since we drafted him,” Guerin said, per the Post-Gazette. “I remember his first development camp, everybody was like, ‘Oh, wow, look at this kid. He can move the puck, he can skate, he’s quick. He thinks the game well.’ And it hasn’t stopped.

“He’s an undersized guy, but he has the ability to get himself out of trouble because he’s got great feet and he thinks the game well.”