Bettman and Stillman

Despite new ownership, Blues face challenges

If you didn’t hear, it’s St. Louis Blues day on PHT. (Fireworks show to follow.) As part of our look at the surprise team of the 2011-12 season, we’d be remiss to overlook its new ownership group.

In May, a collection of local investors led by former minority owner Tom Stillman was formally announced as proprietors, thus closing the book on a tenuous time in franchise history.

“We know the future is extraordinarily bright,” said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman at the announcement. “The balance sheet looks much, much better, much, much stronger.”

But a better-looking balance sheet isn’t expected to turn the small-market Blues into big spenders.

“I don’t see us being a cap team any time soon, but we definitely can compete,” Stillman told the St. Louis Dispatch recently. “If I thought we couldn’t put a contending team on the ice, I wouldn’t have done this.”

Perhaps the Blues can get closer to the cap if the new CBA includes more revenue-sharing, i.e. big-market teams increasing their subsidies to small-market teams.

However, there will always be a divide of a certain size between rich and poor in the NHL.

Not that the Blues are poor – cost-conscious is probably a better way to put it.

St. Louis reportedly pursued defensemen Jason Garrison and Matt Carle in free agency, but was unable to sign either. Whether money played a part in that, we don’t know. There were certainly other factors at play. For example, Garrison took a hometown discount to join the Canucks.

Another challenge for management in its pursuit of free agents is location. There’s nothing wrong with St. Louis, but if a player want to live the glamorous life, it’s hard to compete with New York City. If he wants to be recognized on every street corner, a Canadian city is the place to go. And if he doesn’t like freezing in the winter, there are warmer places than eastern Missouri.

Ken Hitchcock’s conservative coaching style may also be a deterrent, particularly for players with an offensive bent.

But that’s not Stillman’s responsibility.

“My responsibility is to the franchise and its health today and its stability long-term,” he said. “I have to make decisions based on that. That shouldn’t be read to mean that we’re not doing anything because we’ve got to be safe. Part of those considerations are ‘What do we have to do to put a competitive, contending team on the ice?’ But I believe we have provided a budget level to the hockey guys that enables them to put a competitive, contending team on the ice. At the same time, as (Blues GM Doug Armstrong) always says, we’re always looking for ways to improve our team and we will continue to do that. But we are in a good position.”

Scary moment: Carlo Colaiacovo hospitalized with ‘dented trachea’

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Buffalo Sabres defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo has experienced plenty of bad injury luck in his winding career, but Saturday presented one of his worst scares.

As you can see from the video above, Colaiacovo received a scary cross-check from Viktor Arvidsson of the Nashville Predators, who received a major penalty and game misconduct.

Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma said that Colaiacovo was hospitalized with a “dented trachea” yet is OK, the Buffalo News’ John Vogl reports.

Frightening stuff from an eventual 4-1 Sabres win.

PHT will keep an eye out for additional updates regarding Colaiacovo’s health (and a possible suspension for Arvidsson).

Comeback Kings: Gaborik pulls L.A. past Kane, Blackhawks

Jake Muzzin, Scott Darling

Patrick Kane set an American scoring record, and added another assist to make it more impressive, but the Los Angeles Kings just wouldn’t be denied.

In the end, Marian Gaborik‘s big night meant more than Kane’s; he scored the tying and then overtime game-winner, both assisted by Anze Kopitar, for a rousing 4-3 overtime Kings win.

Gaborik’s first goal:

And here’s video of the OT-GWG:

Noticing a theme tonight? Yeah, it’s been an evening in which it’s dangerous to assume a lead would stand.

With that, the Kings stick to the No. 1 spot in the Pacific Division, but Chicago shouldn’t feel all bad. The Blackhawks were able to piece together a decent run during their dreaded “circus trip.”

Patrick Kane’s streak hits 19 games, setting a new American record


When it comes to point streaks for U.S.-born NHL players, Patrick Kane now stands alone.

With a power-play goal early in Saturday’s Blackhawks – Kings game, Kane extended his streak to 19 games, breaking a tie with Phil Kessel and Eddie Olczyk (who finished with at least a point in 18 straight).

As of this writing, Kane has 11 goals and 19 assists during this 19-game streak. He also leads the NHL in scoring.

Bobby Hull’s 21-game point streak stands as the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall team record, by the way.

So, how would you protect a lead against the Stars?


You know what they say: it’s easy to bash a strategy in hindsight.

Slam that NFL head coach for going for it on fourth down … or settling for the field goal. Bury that MLB manager because he kept a pitcher in too long. And so on.

“Score effects” settle in during almost any lopsided hockey game, yet the Dallas Stars present quite a conundrum: what’s the best way to put a way a team with this much firepower?

Tonight may have presented the greatest evidence that this team won’t go away easy, as it seemed like the Minnesota Wild had the best of a tired Stars team* when they built a 3-0 lead.

Instead, the Stars scored three third-period goals while Tyler Seguin capped the comeback with an overtime-winner.

It was one of those bend-and-then-break moments for Minnesota. Dallas generated a 44-26 shot advantage, including a ridiculous 35-15 edge in the final two periods.

Does that mean that Mike Yeo may have tried to play too conservatively with a healthy lead? It’s a possibility.

On the other hand, would the Wild be wiser to try to run-and-gun with one of the most dangerous offenses in the NHL?

It sure seems like a pick-your-poison situation. Which way would you lean, though?

* – To be fair to Minnesota, each team was on back-to-backs.