Trust us, there’s an NHL story in here somewhere. Just be patient because the first stuff is important.
Yesterday in Utah, NBA commissioner David Stern said he was “more hopeful than I am confident right now” that Sacramento can salvage its plan to build a new arena and keep the Kings in town. (If you want to know why the arena plan has moved onto thin ice, read this.)
Suffice to say Stern’s statement represented a downgrade from the optimism of late February after a handshake agreement with the city, the Kings’ owners, and the NBA was reached to build a new arena and keep the team in town.
That handshake agreement also appeared to hurt Seattle’s chances of landing an NBA team, as the Kings and the league-owned New Orleans Hornets were the two main relocation candidates. The Hornets still don’t have a new owner, but Stern has indicated a sale could be announced soon. Which sort of sounds familiar and appropriately leads us into the NHL stuff.
If Seattle can snag an NBA team – let’s say it’s the Kings (if they don’t go to Anaheim) – there are already plans in place to build a new arena. However, it’s possible that new arena will only be built should it be guaranteed a second tenant, that being an NHL team.
In other words, if Seattle can snag an NBA team, Seattle greatly improves it chances of getting an NHL team like, say – gee, I dunno – the Phoenix Coyotes.
Your head swimming yet?
PS — No truth to the rumor Quebec City has plans to build Sacramento a new arena.
The Winter Classic Alumni Game is back this year, scheduled for New Year’s Eve at Gillette Stadium between former members of the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins.
Today, the NHL announced the rosters and coaching staffs.
Famous ex-Habs that will take to the outdoor ice include Larry Robinson, Guy Carbonneau, and Mats Naslund. Behind the bench will be Yvan Cournoyer, Jacques Demers and Guy Lafleur, among others.
The home side will counter with Bruins legends Ray Bourque, Cam Neely, and “Nifty” Rick Middleton, while Don Cherry, Mike Milbury, and Derek Sanderson will be among the coaches. (Quite a trio of personalities right there.)
The hope was that the Columbus Blue Jackets would be jolted into a great, long winning streak, and their season would be saved.
The reality of John Tortorella’s first month behind the bench has been, well, reality. The Jackets are 8-7-0 since Todd Richards was fired. Better than 0-7-0, sure, but at 8-14-0 overall, they remain last in the Eastern Conference.
Fifteen games into his tenure, Tortorella is still trying to get his message across.
“A big reason why we bring them in (to practice yesterday and today) is because we don’t have a full understanding of the standard we need to be at in all areas of the game,” he told The Columbus Dispatch. “Some things you can’t control in our game, but it’s how hard you play, how hard you are with your bite as a team, and the pace you play with – you can control that.”
The Jackets play Wednesday in New Jersey, where they’ll look to shake off Sunday’s disappointing home loss to San Jose. Columbus held a 3-1 third-period lead in that one. The Sharks scored four straight to win 5-3.
The San Jose Sharks have signed forward Dainius Zubrus to a one-year, two way contract, the club announced today.
Zubrus was given a tryout with the Sharks last week.
The 37-year-old played 74 games with the Devils last season, scoring just four goals with six assists. His contract was then bought out.
According to a Mercury News source, the decision to sign Zubrus lay “mainly” with his former coach in New Jersey, now San Jose’s bench boss, Pete DeBoer.
“He looks good,” DeBoer said of Zubrus last week, per CSN Bay Area. “He looks close. It’s tough to find six-foot-four, 215-pound guys who can play. … He’s an easy guy to play because he’s defensively reliable. He plays a big possession, heavy game. There’s a lot to like there.”
In a related move, the Sharks have reassigned forward Nikolay Goldobin to the AHL.