Katz gives a little; will an arena deal get done in Edmonton?

The good news is that the Edmonton Oilers have an owner. With teams like the Coyotes, Stars, and Blues undergoing ownership issues over the last few months (years), having an owner isn’t something to be taken for granted anymore. Now having a place to play—that’s a different story. For anyone following the arena negotiations in Edmonton, owner Daryl Katz wants to build a new arena downtown to house the Edmonton Oilers. Not only does he want a new downtown arena, he wants the taxpayers to help fund the deal, and he wanted a non-compete clause with the operator of Rexall Place that would send concerts to the new arena as well.

No word if he wants the City of Edmonton to throw in a pony while they’re at it.

After meeting with Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel and Gary Bettman in New York this week, it sounds like Katz is willing to limit his demands. He’s publically stated that he’ll take the non-compete clause off the table as he tries to work a deal before October 31. You see, he has until Halloween before he loses the downtown parcel of land that has been reserved for the potential arena. Without the downtown land, there is no downtown arena.

Obviously in negotiations, people don’t make concessions without getting something back in return. From SportsNet:

“In return for taking the clause off the table, the city has agreed to a new ticket tax at Rexall equal to the one proposed for the new arena, said [City manager Simon] Farbrother.

“There would be a level playing field,” he said, adding the city would also stop subsidizing Rexall after the new arena is built.

The debate over a new home for the Oilers to replace Rexall Place, the second-oldest rink the league, has been going for four years.

Although close to a deal, the project’s remaining stumbling block is money. A hefty $100 million is still needed to fund the $450-million arena.

The Katz Group earlier agreed to put up $100 million and tax ticket holders for another $125 million. The city would pony up $125 million.”

As an outsider, it would be great to see the Oilers get a new arena to go with their new team. Rexall Place is the second oldest arena in the league and could definitely use an upgrade. Can you imagine the Oilers taking the next step with all of their young talent—completing in the playoffs with a new sold-out new building in the middle of Edmonton? It sounds like a great idea.

Of course, any time taxpayer funds are being discussed, it opens a political can of worms that has little to do with hockey. Just ask people in Long Island about votes and referendums about new arenas. For the average voter, it comes down to money. More money in the form of taxes means less money in people’s pockets.

The two sides have a little over two weeks to figure this thing out. We’ll keep you updated as the two sides continue to negotiate.

Video: This Kane-to-Panarin goal is all sorts of ridiculous

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When people were arguing against Artemi Panarin‘s Calder case, they often discounted his work because of Patrick Kane‘s brilliance (at least when they weren’t focusing on age questions).

It always felt a little unfair to Panarin.

Do we blame a great wide receiver playing with an adept quarterback? Sure, it’s an interesting discussion to have, but it seems fairly clear that there’s a symbiotic relationship between Panarin and Kane.

One could see that plainly in a 1-0 goal for the Chicago Blackhawks against the Pittsburgh Penguins that … admittedly was driven by Kane’s almost audacious creativity and skill.

But still, Panarin has 26 goals this season because he’s really good, too. This season has been a nice showcase for such thoughts, and a reminder that – like most great combinations – they make each other better.

(Seriously though, Kane was out of his mind there.)

‘Old Time Hockey’ video game takes a bit of an early beating from reviewers

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From the sound of things, “Old Time Hockey” is a video game with a lot of heart, but maybe not the skills to make it to the big time.

While “NHL 17” is pumped out by publishing giant EA Sports, this title is very much an independent labor of love by a company called V7 Entertainment. Puck Daddy’s Sean Leahy provided a great interview with the developers here. It’s worth noting that the game reminds one of 8-bit titles in another way: lacking an NHL license, these teams are instead fictional. This isn’t necessarily a drawback as much as it provides the title with its own unique “flavor.”

It’s hard not to get behind a scrappy development, especially in an age where sports video game options are so scarce. Some leagues barely see any licensed games any longer (see: the MLB, which feels woefully misrepresented these days), and the arcade-style that “Blades of Steel” and other old-school games popularized is even tougher to come by.

Combine these factors with an aesthetic inspired by “Slap Shot” and “Old Time Hockey” seems like it could really scratch an itch … except, it sounds like the puck missed the net.

So far, reviews are pretty mixed for the title, which is currently on PC and Playstation 4 (with planned releases on Xbox One and Nintendo Switch).

While there are a few good reviews here and there, the general reception is of disappointment.

A Sporting News review states that “the promising premise falls apart quickly.” Game Informer slams a “slew-footed story mode.” PC Gamer notes that, with EA not releasing an NHL game on that platform since 2008, there was a need here … but it wasn’t met.

Does that mean there’s no fun to be had? Not necessarily, but it’s a bummer that the game might be off the mark, especially since V7 Entertainment seems to have its heart in the right place.

Then again, maybe those who want that “NHL 94” fix merely need to dig a little. As this Vice article points out, there’s still an active community playing the sort of game that scratches the itch that “Old Time Hockey” – perhaps – can’t quite reach.

WATCH LIVE: Blackhawks at Penguins – Wednesday Night Rivalry

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The latest edition of NBCSN’s Wednesday Night Rivalry presents quite the treat: the Chicago Blackhawks at the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Both teams are at 103 standings points and each squad already punched a ticket to the playoffs. Even so, they’re dealing with mini-slumps that they’d like to work out tonight.

For all we know, this could be a preview of what would be one extremely fun, high-profile 2017 Stanley Cup Final. Either way, it’s a showcase of two premiere franchises brimming with star power.

You can watch on NBCSN, online and via NBC Sports App. Click here for the livestream.

Yes, NHL will share protected, available player lists for expansion draft

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We can debate all day how much the NHL, Vegas Golden Knights and others involved really want to do this, but they’re making the right choice with the expansion draft nonetheless. The league will make protected and available players lists available at the same time they’re shared with teams, according to NHL.com’s Nick Cotsonika.

(The NHL tweeted out as much, too.)

Could this lead to feelings being hurt or perhaps even certain sneaky deals being scuttled? Perhaps, but those are headaches that management should be expected to absorb.

The bottom line is that an expansion draft is a dream come true for armchair GMs, rumor enthusiasts, fantasy sports fans and … really, just about anyone interested in hockey. It would be a bewildering decision to try to keep all of this information locked down, even for a league that frequently garners a reputation for choosing comfort over entertainment value.

Cotsonika reports that such lists will probably be made available on June 18, though that isn’t set in stone. NHL.com’s Dan Rosen also backs this up as a possible date.

(If you’re the type to take off work if a trade deadline was exciting, you might want to start drumming up excuses/putting aside vacation time/practicing your best “I’m sick” voice just in case …)

Cap Friendly provides a handy timeline for the expansion draft process: