More updates on Coyotes and Stars sales

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It seems like each of the ownership situations pending around the NHL are destined to be dragged out as long as possible. The Atlanta Thrashers sale and relocation moved remarkably quickly—unfortunately the situations in Dallas, St. Louis, and Glendale aren’t going down quite as smoothly. Everyday there seems to be a new update, wrinkle, potential problem, or cause for hope while fans in each city eagerly await their team’s future to be settled. Today, there was news that affects all three cities and their sale process: but still nothing pending for the immediate future.

In Glendale, there’s news that there are two buyers that are interested in submitting offers for the team to the Glendale City Council when they reconvene in a few weeks. That much we already knew. It’s already been widely assumed that one of the mystery groups is led by Jerry Reinsdorf (of course). Now there’s word that both offers will come fully equipped with opt-out clauses to protect any future owner as part of the sale.

Why is this news? In the past, members of the Glendale City Council have been adamantly opposed to any offers that included an opt-out clause. From their position, they’re afraid of giving government subsides only to see an out-of-town businessman bolt at the first sign of trouble. If they’re going to make a deal, they want assurances that the team will be in Glendale for the long-haul. Their position is completely understandable. Then again, it’s also understandable that any businessman would want to protect his interests in the event that things go sideways.

The folks over at Five For Howling must be getting sick of the never-ending ownership/sale mess surrounding their team, but at least Jordan Ellel is taking a pragmatic look at the newest development and the reality of a potential out-clause:

“No, as much as I would love for a potential owner to swoop in and make a guarantee that the team would stay for the entire 30-year lease term (a la Hulsizer), an out clause is completely reasonable at this stage. The fans have shied away for a variety of reasons, but if an owner steps in and gives a time frame for turning things around and this city cannot do it; well, then the team should probably move to be frank.

However, so long as the ownership group isn’t the cheapest group known to man, the team should remain very competitive and a good value for your entertainment dollars. Given a modicum of quality marketing and continued improvement obtaining local sponsors, then meeting whatever “growth” metrics will be used to trigger an out clause should not be an issue. Of course, we all know how fickle Phoenix fans can be and true growth will only happen if they make a playoff run that doesn’t end in seven or fewer games (and hey, if the NBA stays locked out that will only help as well).”

It’s hard to disagree with the logic. If the team is given a new owner that shows a reasonable amount of commitment and the fans still don’t show up to Jobing.com Arena, then it’s on the fans—not the owner.

One thousand miles to the east, the Dallas Stars are dealing with their ownership situation. Slowly but surely, Tom Gaglardi is continuing in his process to buy the Stars from the various creditors who currently hold debts. Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News gives an update:

“Which brings us to Gaglardi, and where his bid is. Several people I have talked to said he is in New York trying to push through all of the paperwork that needs to be pushed through, and this is a difficult time to do that. In addition to lawyers, there also are financial people involved in drawing up loans, and this is a volatile time in the financial market.”

If everything goes to plan, Gaglardi’s bid will go through and the offer will be seen by a judge in bankruptcy court. There had been reports that two of the groups that were interested in buying the Dallas Stars were now throwing their name into the hat for the St. Louis Blues—which may still be true. However, any assumptions that Gaglardi was hedging his bets and negotiating a deal with for the Blues behind the scenes should be put to rest immediately. Put simply: Gaglardi isn’t interested in the Blues.

Neither circumstance is even remotely close to conclusion. Today’s events are simply the next step in situations that have plenty of moving parts. One day they’ll both be done and we can go back to talking about the actual teams that reside in Dallas and Arizona.

Ducks deny rally, end Penguins’ winning streak

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When Ondrej Kase cashed in on another breakaway opportunity for the Ducks to make it 4-1 in the second period, it looked like that goal would be icing on the cake for Anaheim. Even if it would be especially pretty frosting.

Instead, that stylish goal ended up being critical, as the Pittsburgh Penguins nearly rallied in the third period to at least send Wednesday’s game to overtime. John Gibson ended up holding down the fort, and with an empty-netter in the dying seconds, the Ducks ended up beating the Penguins 5-3.

You could call it a game of periods and close calls.

The Penguins entered the first intermission thanks to a 1-0 Evgeni Malkin goal, but the Ducks dominated the middle frame with their first four-goal period of 2017-18. The Penguins’ prolific power play helped them stay in the game (2-for-4, with both goals coming during that third-period comeback bid), but the rally fell short. Pittsburgh’s winning streak ended at four victories.

Some bounces went both ways, as Antoine Vermette nearly scored for the Ducks while Carl Hagelin suffered a near-miss. So maybe those missed opportunities cancel each other out?

From the Ducks’ perspective, this is the latest argument in favor of this team being a threat now that key pieces have returned to the lineup. This win begins what they hope is a successful five-game homestand, as Anaheim still needs to battle for its own playoff hopes.

The Penguins can’t ruminate on this loss for very long. They head to Los Angeles to face what must be a frustrated Kings team (four straight defeats, only two wins in their last eight games) on Thursday, with little reason to expect any mercy.

This last stretch of wins improved the Penguins’ outlook, but dropping games in back-to-back nights could make things tense again in a hurry. You can check out that Penguins – Kings game on NBCSN Thursday.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Willie O’Ree celebrates 60th anniversary of debut with Bruins

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BOSTON (AP) Hockey pioneer Willie O’Ree was honored in Boston on Wednesday on the 60th anniversary of the Bruins forward breaking the NHL’s color barrier.

At a news conference at the TD Garden before the Bruins game against the Montreal Canadiens, Mayor Marty Walsh declared Jan. 18, 2018 to be “Willie O’Ree Day”. O’Ree made his debut in 1958 during a 3-0 victory against the Canadiens at the Forum in Montreal.

Walsh called O’Ree a Boston legend who changed the city for the better and thanked him for his courage. As part of the celebration, the city dedicated a new street hockey rink in the Allston-Brighton neighborhood to be known as Willie O’Ree Rink.

A native of Canada, O’Ree, 82, had four goals and 10 assists in 45 games over parts of two NHL seasons. He spent a total of 21 years in pro hockey.

For the past two decades, O’Ree has served as the NHL’s Diversity Ambassador, spreading the message that hockey is for everyone.

More AP NHL hockey at https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey

Bruins cruise vs. Canadiens in Julien’s return to Boston

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Don’t blame Claude Julien if Wednesday made him think of better times, and not just because it was his welcome back night in Boston.

Coming into this one, it was a tale of two teams going in opposite directions, and the teams stuck to their scripts. The Boston Bruins remain red-hot with a 4-1 win, while the Montreal Canadiens are mired in mediocrity .. or worse?

When you’re as disappointing as the Canadiens have been, plenty of things are going wrong. It was a weak start even with a 1-0 lead and 1-1 first period in mind, and it obviously didn’t get any better.

Nights like these have to sting for Julien, a coach known for his sophisticated systems and eye for defensive detail.

There are questions about Max Pacioretty possibly being trade bait. People wonder if Jonathan Drouin or Alex Galchenyuk fit as centers, or if neither work that way. Yet, these performances make you realize that as exasperated as management must be, they may also appreciate more specific distractions.

Because, frankly, this was a team … non-effort.

Then again, the Bruins are a red-hot squad, so maybe they shine an especially harsh light on the Habs’ haplessness?

Boston generated a 32-22 shots on goal advantage in this one, with multiple contributors stepping up. Big guns came through (Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak were among the goal scorers, Patrice Bergeron collected two assists), while David Backes and others added to the fun.

It was the kind of effort Julien would have been very happy with, if it didn’t come at his expense.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

WATCH LIVE: Pittsburgh Penguins at Anaheim Ducks

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PROJECTED LINEUPS

Pittsburgh Penguins

Dominik SimonSidney Crosby — Daniel Sprong

Carl HagelinEvgeni MalkinPatric Hornqvist

Conor ShearyJake GuentzelPhil Kessel

Tom KuhnhacklRiley SheahanRyan Reaves

Brian DumoulinKris Letang

Olli MaattaJustin Schultz

Matt HunwickJamie Oleksiak

Starting goalie: Tristan Jarry

[NHL on NBCSN doubleheader: Canadiens vs. Bruins; Penguins vs. Ducks]

Ducks

Rickard RakellRyan GetzlafCorey Perry

Derek GrantRyan KeslerJakob Silfverberg

Nick RitchieAdam HenriqueOndrej Kase

Chris WagnerAntoine VermetteJ.T. Brown

Cam FowlerKevin Bieksa

Hampus LindholmJosh Manson

Francois BeaucheminBrandon Montour

Starting goalie: John Gibson