Los Angeles Kings v St. Louis Blues

Today marks the deadline for St. Louis Blues’ ownership bids

There are a handful of NHL teams hoping to find a new owner in the near future, but the St. Louis Blues’ situation hasn’t received a whole lot of attention. That makes sense, too, because the perception is that the process could be much smoother than the headache-inducing struggles suffered by the Phoenix Coyotes of the world – at least relatively speaking. Of course, just because something should be simple doesn’t mean that everything will flow like smooth jazz.

With that always-lingering potential for chaos in mind, we’ll be keeping an eye on news about the Blues’ ownership situation. Today will be a good day to do so, because August 22 marks the deadline for hopeful new ownership groups to submit their bids to purchase the club from current owner Dave Checketts. The hope is that the Blues can get a prospective owner in place for approval by September 20 – the latest round of the NHL’s Board of Governors meetings – but that remains to be seen.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford reports that former potential Coyotes owner Matt Hulsizer and current Blues minority owner Tom Stillman are among the most prominent candidates bidding for the Blues. Rutherford focused on noted (and deep-pocketed) hockey enthusiast Hulsizer in his story on the bidding.

Hulsizer, however, never lost his love for hockey, and two months after pulling out of a complicated deal to buy the Phoenix Coyotes, he could be joining “the club” in St. Louis. According to sources, Hulsizer has already made one offer to buy the club, and although it was unsuccessful, he remains interested.

A relative unknown in NHL circles two years ago, Hulsizer would be a slam-dunk to gain NHL approval. In December 2010, the league’s 10-member Board of Governors’ executive committee unanimously approved his application to buy the Coyotes.

Deputy commissioner Bill Daly labeled the group’s conversations with Hulsizer as “a very good interview.”

Not many details about other potential owners have surfaced at this time, but the Blues are a team in a respectable market and with a lengthy history in the NHL. From an outsider’s perspective, it seems like the Blues are one of the healthiest teams that have gone up for a sale in quite some time, with strengths that make them comparable to the recently sold Buffalo Sabres.

Rutherford points out that it’s possible that the team will receive offers after today’s deadline anyway, so it’s a fluid situation. We’ll keep an eye out for details on this still-developing story, whether a frontrunner emerges today, later this week or some other time in the near future.

Stanley Cup Final referees: McCauley, O’Halloran, O’Rourke, Sutherland

BUFFALO, NY - DECEMBER 13:  Referee Dan O'Halloran #13 holds up a face-off between the Buffalo Sabres and the Ottawa Senators during their NHL game at First Niagara Center on December 13, 2011 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Dave Sandford Getty Images)
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From the NHL:

refs

Pretty veteran crew, including three returnees from last year’s final.

Per the NHL, O’Halloran and O’Rourke will call tonight’s series opener from Consol.

After advancing to Cup final, DeBoer had Sharks fans coming up to him with ‘tears in their eyes’

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 29: Head coach Peter DeBoer addresses the media during the NHL Stanley Cup Final Media Day at Consol Energy Center on May 29, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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PITTSBURGH — When Pete DeBoer was hired to coach the San Jose Sharks, he wasn’t totally cognizant of how much heartbreak the fan base had experienced throughout the years.

Now he knows.

“First year in the community, I didn’t realize kind of the baggage that was carried around,” DeBoer said this morning ahead of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. “Twenty-five-year season-ticket holders coming up to you with tears in their eyes and crying.”

The Sharks, of course, have never been this far in the playoffs. Prior to this year, they’d made it three times to the Western Conference Final, losing each time.

More painful were the first-round exits. Like in 2009 when they won the Presidents’ Trophy and got knocked out by the Ducks, and two years ago when they led the Kings 3-0 before dropping four straight.

It was only after the Sharks beat the Blues that DeBoer fully realized the “gravity of what they’ve been through” as fans in San Jose, and “how important this is to them.”

Not that he’s satisfied with getting this far.

“The business at hand now is to get off on the right foot, plant the right seeds for this series, impose our game,” he said. “Every series is the same — it’s whatever team can impose their game on the other team the quickest and for the longest. That’s our goal here tonight.”

Related: For Pete DeBoer, San Jose was the perfect landing spot

Kopitar will play for Slovenia in Olympic qualifiers

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 13: Anze Kopitar #11 of Slovenia skates against Russia during the Men's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round Group A game on day six of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 13, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar will spend part of his offseason trying to help Slovenia qualify for the Olympics.

RTV Slovenia has the story here.

The qualification games will be played September 1-4 in Minsk. Slovenia is in a group with Belarus, Denmark and Poland. The winner of the group will qualify for the Olympics.

The NHL reportedly has no issue with Kopitar’s participation, even though the league has yet to commit to sending its players to Pyeongchang.

Slovenia made its Olympic debut in ice hockey at the 2014 Games in Sochi.

Kopitar will also represent Team Europe at the 2016 World Cup later in September.

Related: Slovenia beats Slovakia for historic win

Zubrus in, Nieto likely out for Sharks in Stanley Cup Final opener

ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 15:  Dainius Zubrus #9 of the San Jose Sharks skates against Alexander Steen #20 of the St. Louis Blues in Game One of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 15, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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PITTSBURGH — Matt Nieto is healthy, and ready to go.

But it doesn’t look like he’ll go tonight.

The San Jose Sharks are unlikely to make any lineup changes for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final in Pittsburgh — at Monday’s optional morning skate, Nieto stayed out late with the extras while the guy he’d (presumably) replace in the lineup, Dainius Zubrus, told NHL.com he was in.

Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer wouldn’t reveal any lineup decisions during his morning media availability, instead talking up both Nieto (for his speed) and Zubrus (for his “heavy” game), adding he liked the versatility the two give the club on a night-by-night basis.

Nieto suffered an upper-body injury in Game 6 of the Nashville series, and missed all of the Western Conference Final.

Prior to getting hurt, he had three points in 11 games — this after a regular season in which he scored eight goals and 17 points in 67 games.