L.A. Kings exec Robitaille: “You have to win in this town”

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Pretty interesting story in the Globe and Mail today about Luc Robitaille’s executive role and the success of the Los Angeles Kings.

Fresh off their first playoff series win in 11 years, the Kings will take on the St. Louis Blues this Saturday in Game 1 of their best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal.

On Thursday, the series will switch to Los Angeles where, after years of hard work, the Kings are being embraced by the city — something Robitaille set to achieve upon taking the business operations gig in 2007.

More, from The Globe:

When Robitaille came, one idea important idea he had was to reengage the glitz – “our neighbours in Hollywood” he said at the time. Examples of the effort include what’s called the “ice box,” 11 very VIP seats (total price tag: $4,000) used during the season between the two teams’ players benches. The Kings have staff that cater specifically to celebrities, with a Ritz-Carlton inspired “never say no” attitude.

Attendance has jumped, as 18,000 or so cram in for each game, the Kings selling out nearly every game this season. As the Kings rolled over the Canucks in five games, bold-print names such as Kobe Bryant, David Beckham and Will Ferrell were among the crowd. Games 3 and 4 of the second round against St. Louis, without doubt, will be hot tickets. L.A., more than most towns, loves a winner.

“For us, we’re not about making the playoffs any more,” Robitaille said. “We’re about trying to win the whole thing.

“You have to win in this town. Because there’s always something to do. You can go see a movie premier, you can go see the Grammy’s, next thing UCLA, or the Dodgers, or the Angels, the Clippers, the Lakers. There’s always something.”

While Robitaille and GM Dean Lombardi are being praised for their work with the club, The Globe notes ownership (Anschutz Entertainment Group) deserves a lot of credit for opening up the checkbook.

AEG paid almost as much to retain/obtain Drew Doughty and Mike Richards last summer ($108 million) as it did to buy the franchise ($113 million) and, at the trade deadline, picked up another huge salary in Jeff Carter ($58 million.)

Robitaille says that attitude and willingness to spend is what it takes to be a winner.

“At first it was really hard,” said Robitaille. “But as the team started performing, and suddenly the expectations are a lot grander, it’s a lot easier to explain, even to my staff, what we stand for, because you’re seeing results.”

Mitchell signed PTO with Blue Jackets — shortly after getting cut by Blackhawks

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When the Chicago Blackhawks announced their roster moves yesterday, John Mitchell was among the cuts.

His professional tryout with the Blackhawks had come to an end, as it did for veterans Mark Stuart and Drew Miller.

It can be an uphill battle to make an NHL roster for veterans on professional tryouts. But for Mitchell, he quickly received another opportunity to attend a camp and try to land a spot, signing a PTO with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Mitchell, 32, has appeared in 548 NHL regular season games with 70 goals and 177 points.

Meanwhile, the Blue Jackets are still without forward and restricted free agent Josh Anderson, as the two sides are stuck in a contract impasse right now. It was reported on Thursday that his representatives have been in contact with Hockey Canada about the 2018 Olympics.

Calgary mayor: ‘Errors of omission’ in Flames arena proposal

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On Thursday, the Calgary Flames released a report claiming they were prepared to contribute $275 million for a new arena, with additional funding — in the ball park of $225 million — from a Community Revitalization Levy.

On Friday, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi responded to the proposal and the events of yesterday.

“I wouldn’t say dishonesty. I would, however, say that there are perhaps some errors of omission,” Nenshi told reporters, according to Global Calgary, when asked if there had been a level of dishonesty from the Flames with their proposal.

The Flames not only released a report with financial details to their website, but they also took out ads in local newspapers. Nenshi took issue with the details the Flames released yesterday.

“What was in that ad was not actually what the last deal on the table with the city was,” he said.

“For example, yesterday you saw that the Flames’ owners are claiming that they’re putting $275 million up front. Makes it sound like a (check) is being put on the table. Certainly that has not been discussed. That would’ve really changed things had that been the discussion.

“The discussion, the last I saw, was the Flames were putting $100 million in and the rest would be a ticket tax, which they wanted the city to take out, to get for and to front. I’m not quite sure how that equals the Flames putting in money up front.”

Yesterday, the Flames added in their report that, after two years of discussions with the city about a new arena, they will no longer pursue a new arena in Calgary.

The Flames currently play at the Saddledome, which is now 34 years old.

Report: Skinner among leading candidates for Hurricanes captaincy

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The Carolina Hurricanes went last season without a captain. That will change once training camp is over, and, according to a recent report, Jeff Skinner is one of the prime candidates to possibly wear the ‘C’ for this season.

The Hurricanes selected Skinner seventh overall in 2010. He made an instant impact on the NHL club, scoring 31 goals and 63 points in his rookie season as a teenager. He’s been a valuable offensive weapon for Carolina ever since.

This past season, he scored 37 goals — a career best. Although the consideration to potentially make him the next captain goes beyond his skills around the opposing net.

From NHL.com:

“He’s a passionate guy and he’s a passionate player,” Peters said. “He’s a real good pro in the fact that he looks after himself, he trains properly and the guys have unreal respect for the way he looks after his body. The maturity shows. I know guys bring it up quite a bit.”

To that end, Peters said he was at a staff golf outing prior to the start of training camp with about 16 people, including members of the Hurricanes’ medical and strength training staffs, and he polled as many people about the captaincy candidates as he could.

“[Skinner’s] name came up in the conversation quite a bit, and they bring up that type of stuff, the way he looks after himself and the way he prepares,” Peters said. “He’s passionate about it and he’s hungry to win.”

The Hurricanes have, over the past few years, done a nice job of building a talented young roster that has shown signs of being able to compete in the Eastern Conference. They do, however, play in a difficult Metropolitan Division, which features the Blue Jackets, Penguins, Capitals and Rangers.

The biggest change in Carolina this offseason was in net, with the addition of Scott Darling, who was the capable back-up in Chicago but is now taking over the No. 1 role with the Hurricanes.

Another change is still upcoming. Eric Staal was the captain in Carolina for six years, but the team is expected to soon name a replacement. There are other candidates for the Hurricanes captaincy, as well, like Justin Faulk and Jordan Staal.

“Someone is going to wear one, for sure,” said Peters earlier this month, per TSN. “Our leadership group is fine and we’ve got real good candidates. They’ll all provide leadership whether they wear a letter or not.”

Islanders sign 2016 first-round pick Bellows to entry-level deal

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The New York Islanders made a few roster moves Friday. That included sending 2016 first-round pick Kieffer Bellows back to the Portland Winterhawks in the Western Hockey League.

Shortly after that, it was announced that Bellows and the Islanders agreed to terms on a three-year entry-level contract.

The Islanders originally selected Bellows with the 19th overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft.

The 19-year-old left winger played one year at Boston University, tallying seven goals and 14 points before deciding to leave school to play this season in the WHL, which has a completely different schedule from college.

“Play more games,” Bellows told NHL.com in July. “I think just the 72 games in the [WHL] regular season is the biggest thing. I can’t thank [Boston University coach David] Quinn enough and all the guys on the team. I had an unbelievable first year at Boston University, but I just felt it was best for me to go and play more games.”