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Canucks discuss how they’ll help Vancouver deal with big events, learn from riots

Considering how tragic this summer has been for individuals in the hockey worldparticularly enforcers – some might forget that the season ended with an entire city getting a black eye. That ugly night of rioting in Vancouver was especially unfortunate considering the fact that the city dealt with similar issues 17 years earlier, when the Canucks also lost a Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals.

The hope is that even though history repeated itself in a way, the city, team (and even to some extent the NHL) will learn from those awful times. Winnipeg’s CTV took a look at two reviews of the June 15 riots – one was an independent review by retired law enforcement representatives, the other was an internal review by the city of Vancouver – to see how responsible the NHL and its teams should be for managing large crowds that gather for games in places that aren’t considered their designated buildings.

Various sides argued the cases for and against the league and its team taking a larger role in policing large crowds that aren’t at their buildings. Some (including Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson) believe that teams should work along side cities during major events while others believed that the Canucks and other teams would be out of their element.

“I’m very hopeful we see a positive response from the NHL and the Canucks in the event we are in this situation maybe next year,” Robertson said. “I’m hopeful we have a real pro-active role coming from the league and the Canucks so that we don’t see this kind of situation again.”

But business professor Richard Powers questioned why the league or Canucks have any responsibility for what happens outside the arena.

“The club and league, they provide a source of entertainment,” Powers, a professor of business law and ethics at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, said Friday.

“It’s sports. It’s not policing, it’s not crowd control. It’s not their expertise.”

The Canucks responded to the reviews by saying that they will encourage “responsible, fun celebrations” and that they hope to work with the city and province to help them out if they plan on arranging similar events in the future. Here are few excerpts from  Canucks COO Victor de Bonis, via the Vancouver Sun.

“Obviously, the first thing is that we’re committed to working with the city and province in the future to try to help and support them if they plan to do public-viewing parties of our games.”

De Bonis said he was uncertain what the level of support might be, whether it would involve funding for security and police, as well as education and awareness programs.

The latter initiatives, he noted, are a certainty.

“We’re really looking forward to trying to support the recommendations in the report and build programs that would drive success for these kinds of events in the future,” de Bonis said.

When asked about the possibility of shutting down those big, public events altogether – an extreme but understandable notion considering how hard it is to control crowds of “too many people” who get “too drunk” – de Bonis acknowledged that possibility but said that he hopes “it never gets to that.”

It’s great to hear that the Canucks are pledging heightened responsibility when it comes to helping the city deal with big events, although the details seem a bit vague right now. It would be a shame if the sports world needs to cringe every time the Canucks reach such a high level because of worries about riots, especially since Vancouver as a whole responded admirably to that ugly situation.

Click here for a gallery of the riot and some information about the arrests. Hopefully those sights will remain rare for Vancouver and other NHL markets.

Star struck: Sens chase Niemi after three goals on nine shots (Update: And now he’s back)

Milan Michalek, Antti Niemi
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Bet Antti Niemi misses playing Buffalo.

Niemi, who stopped 46 of 47 shots in back-to-back wins over the Sabres last week, was hooked during Tuesday’s game against the Senators after allowing three goals on nine shots.

In Niemi’s defense, tonight’s goals weren’t exactly his fault.

John Klingberg coughed up the puck badly on Bobby Ryan‘s opening tally…

And on Ottawa’s second goal, Jyrki Jokipakka lost a board battle moments before Milan Michalek snapped one home:

The Sens’ third marker also came on a turnover.

Update: Well, this is quite the night for Dallas netminders. Kari Lehtonen replaced Niemi, allowed a goal, then got hurt in this collision with Klingberg, which forced him from the game and Niemi back into action.

Foley aware of Seattle reports, but says Vegas is ‘proceeding as if we will play in 2017’

Gary Bettman, Bill Foley
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Bill Foley, the man behind Las Vegas’ prospective NHL expansion team, says he knows about reports claiming the league is keeping an eye on a proposed Seattle arena.

He also says he isn’t going to worry about things out of his control.

“I’m aware of what’s going on (in Seattle) but in my communication with the league, our situation isn’t dependent on third parties,” Foley said Tuesday, per the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “We believe we’re in good shape and we’re proceeding as if we will play in 2017.”

Over the weekend, a Seattle Times piece suggested the NHL had yet to award Vegas or Quebec City an expansion franchise because the league is “avoiding any expansion decision until after an upcoming Seattle City Council vote likely to decide the fate of Chris Han­sen’s proposed Sodo District arena.”

The piece also suggested Seattle could be granted an expansion club for the 2018-19 campaign.


That vote, on granting Hansen part of Occidental Avenue South for his arena, is expected by January. No one knows how it will go, only that the lead-up should be politically charged and fiercely contested.

But passing it — future legal appeals notwithstanding — paves the way for Hansen to obtain his Master Use Permit and have his arena “shovel ready” should he choose to build.

And that means, once a vote passes, it’s entirely possible the NHL could conditionally award Seattle an expansion team.

To his credit, Foley remains solely focused on his Vegas bid — not what potential rival bids could bring to the table. And while he confirmed he has yet to be invited to the Dec. 7 NHL Board of Governor’s meeting in Pebble Beach, he re-iterated his only objective is to strengthen Sin City’s case for a hockey team.

“I’m focused on trying to find a place to build our practice facility,” he said. “I’m focused on the new arena and our fans who’ve put down deposits on season tickets.”

Report: Sabres’ Lehner (ankle) suffered minor setback in recovery

Robin Lehner
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Sabres fans hoping Robin Lehner would return early from his high ankle sprain received some tough news on Tuesday — per ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, Lehner suffered a “little setback” in his recovery.

Lehner was hurt in Buffalo’s opening game of the year and, originally, slated to miss 6-10 weeks. Six weeks have now passed, but optimism he’d be able to return in the earlier part of the timeframe has been dashed — LeBrun says Lehner’s projected return is now for mid-to-late December.

(So, closer to the 10-week estimate.)

While it’s not great news for the Sabres, it’s a positive development for the club’s other Swedish netminder, Linus Ullmark.

Recalled from AHL Rochester shortly after Lehner got hurt, Ullmark is on a really nice run in November — just check his last five games played:


The last Lehner update from the Sabres came in early November, when head coach Dan Bylsma told the News his goalie was “doing really well,” but “not close yet to getting back on the ice.”

Welcome Ryan Johansen to the trade rumor mill

Ryan Johansen

Well, this kind of seemed inevitable — there are now trade rumblings involving Columbus center Ryan Johansen.

This evening, TSN’s Darren Dreger revealed that teams have been calling Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen about the talented pivot, adding that one team classified Johansen as being “softly” in play.

More (transcribed from video):

“That doesn’t mean [Kekalainen] is calling teams, saying ‘what are you going to give me?’ However, when teams call, he’s not dismissing the interest. He is saying ‘well, what’s your offer?’

“What that tells you is there’s at least some interest in considering the trade of Ryan Johansen and, as we saw on the weekend, his minutes dropped, he was demoted to the fourth line — so if the right deal comes along, they’ll consider it.”

The incident Dreger referred to occurred during Sunday’s 5-3 loss to San Jose, in which head coach John Tortorealla limited Johansen to just 13:52 TOI — his lowest total of the season.

It’s the latest incident from what’s already been a tumultuous year; not long after getting hired, Tortorella told the reigning All-Star MVP he was out of shape.

Johnansen was then away from the team for a pair of games dealing with an undisclosed illness. During that absence, the Dispatch reported Johansen had been hospitalized this summer because of an accelerated heart rate.

All this, of course, came one year after an ugly contract dispute at the start of last season, during which the Jackets and Johansen’s representation engaged in a public spat before agreeing to a three-year, $12M deal.