The NHL’s Board of Governors signed off on some big changes today, as the league agreed to move to a four-conference setup for next season (pending a meeting with the NHLPA). You can vote for the teams that are the biggest “winners” and “losers” here, but you might wonder how the NHL’s biggest movers and shakers reacted to the decision. Here’s a collection of some of the highlights from general managers, executives and even a player you might have heard of.
Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke brushed off talk that Toronto lost out in realignment, but his best quote comes here: “It was typical Gary Bettman. It’s like a Chicago election in the 1930s. Not that it’s fixed, but you have a pretty good sense what’s going to happen beforehand.” (Editor’s note: It’s too bad Burke would probably shoot down the idea of his own reality show, because he almost always says something uproarious. Click here for video of Burke’s reactions.)
Predators GM David Poile was very happy about the impact on Nashville, but also spoke about the big picture: “I think we did the right thing, it’s not perfect for everybody, but it certainly helps us. It helps our travel and it’s better exposure with teams coming in, so this is very good for the Nashville Predators.” (Video)
Sidney Crosby’s effusive praise: “I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. I think everyone’s probably happy with that. Washington’s a pretty good rival… I don’t see anyone being disappointed about this.”
Hall of Fame Red Wings executive Jim Devellano ranks among the many Detroit executives who are delighted: “It’s a dream come true for the Detroit Red Wings and its fans. Our fans now will get to see every team in the NHL at least once every year. Our fans will have far fewer games starting at 10:40 at night, far fewer … ”
Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson was also fairly pleased, even if he didn’t look particularly tickled.
Capitals GM George McPhee’s comments bordered on boisterous, though. Here are some of his most intriguing thoughts via Tarik El-Bashir: “We think it’s great for our fans that we’re back in the [Patrick Division] again because it’s historically been a great division and our fans have always loved those rivalries … It will be the best travel schedule in the league.”
Finally, let’s close things out with the league’s biggest executives. You can click here for video of Bill Daly’s reaction and watch video of Gary Bettman’s thoughts below.
For those Maple Leafs fans who once hoped Steven Stamkos would go to free agency and sign in Toronto, what transpired Tuesday will probably sting for a bit.
Playing in Toronto for the first time since he re-signed with the Lightning, opting not to test the open market and potentially signing with what is essentially his hometown team, Stamkos scored 1:19 into the contest, after getting sent in alone and beating goalie Frederik Andersen.
That one might hurt.
There was even a smattering of boos directed at Stamkos, who has never played a game for the Leafs, when he first touched the puck during Tuesday’s contest.
You’ll recall that last season, the Stamkos-to-Toronto speculation dominated headlines at times. A bit of a “circus,” indeed.
There were even ‘Sign Stamkos’ signs being handed out to fans prior to a game between the Lightning and Maple Leafs last season.
All signs pointed to it happening earlier in the day, but it is now official: Sidney Crosby is making his 2016-17 debut on Tuesday night when the Pittsburgh Penguins host the Florida Panthers.
Crosby, the captain of the Penguins and the reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner, missed the first six games of the season due to a concussion. He was injured during practice following the World Cup of Hockey where he led Canada to a championship. Given how much time he missed a few years ago with a concussion only missing six games a positive development for both him and the Penguins.
Crosby will open the game skating on the Penguins’ top line alongside wingers Patric Hornqvist and Scott Wilson.
Along with Crosby return to the lineup, goaltender Matt Murray is also in uniform for the Penguins for the first time this season and will serve as Marc-Andre Fleury‘s backup.
Murray, who took over the starting job in the playoffs last year when Fleury was sidelined at the start of the first round, was injured at the World Cup while playing for Team North America and has been sidelined since.
Even with the return of Crosby and Murray on Tuesday the Penguins are still missing a pretty significant player as defenseman Kris Letang remains sidelined with an upper body injury.
The Buffalo Sabres visit the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday. This match-up features two teams off to slow starts and looking to work their way up the standings in their respective divisions.
You can check out the action on NBCSN or the NBC Sports’ Live Extra (7:30 pm ET).
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:
Flyers put Raffl (upper body) on IR
NHL on NBCSN doubleheader: Sabres vs. Flyers; Ducks vs. Sharks
Bylsma: ‘We need to get more’ out of Reinhart
After missing the last week with an upper-body ailment, Flyers forward Michael Raffl has been placed on injured reserve.
To fill his spot, the Flyers recalled Taylor Leier from AHL Lehigh Valley.
Raffl, 27, has appeared in three games this season, scoring once while averaging 12:21 TOI per night. He hasn’t suited up since a 7-4 loss to Chicago on Oct. 18, failing to suit up for Thursday’s loss to Anaheim, Saturday’s win over Carolina and yesterday’s 3-1 defeat in Montreal.
The Flyers are taking on Buffalo tonight (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).
Philly could make this IR designation retroactive to last Tuesday, which is when Raffl last played. It’s unclear how GM Ron Hextall will handle Raffl’s $2.35 million cap hit with regards to IR, but he’ll need to do some adjusting soon once injured defenseman Michael Del Zotto and forward Scott Laughton get back in the mix.