Report: O’Reilly seeking five-year extension from Colorado

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Earlier this month, we highlighted a piece from the Denver Post’s Mike Chambers on how “crazy” it was that Colorado hadn’t yet re-upped with Ryan O’Reilly.

After doing some digging, Chambers might’ve found out why a deal hasn’t been reached.

More, from the Post:

[O’Reilly] is an restricted free agent who is coming off his three-year, entry-level contract, and a breakout 2011-12 season in which he led the Avs in scoring and was tops in the NHL with 104 takeaways.

Word is he wants a five-year deal and the Avs are only offering three.

He figures to make between $3 million and $4.5 million annually.

Chambers spoke to Detroit defenseman Kyle Quincey, one of O’Reilly’s ex-Avalanche teammates, who had nothing but praise for the 21-year-old.

“He’s one of the best hockey players I’ve played with and by far one of the top five good guys off the ice,” Quincey said of O’Reilly. “He’s by far the hardest worker I’ve ever played with. He’s an unbelievable guy.”

Quincey also addressed the fact O’Reilly remains unsigned.

“You have no idea of how the negotiations are going. That’s between [O’Reilly] and his agent and the team,” he said. “Outside the handful of people in the know, we’re just guessing. The facts are, he’s a great hockey player and great person and there’s no way he’s not going to sign.

“The offer sheet thing is very rare and I know teams don’t like to do it, but it is a possibility.”

It remains unclear why Colorado wouldn’t want to lock up O’Reilly long term…well, other than the fact the franchise appears averse to lengthy deals.

No Avalanche player has a contract beyond 2015-16 (the only three locked in ’til 2016 are David Jones, Erik Johnson and P.A. Parenteau.) At the June draft, GM Greg Sherman inked center Matt Duchene to a two-year deal, a move that raised eyebrows.

It seemed like a pretty short term deal, especially since Duchene was a Calder finalist in 2010 and led the team in scoring in 2011.

Measure of revenge: Kings delay clinching efforts for Flames, Blues

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Deep down, the Los Angeles Kings probably realize that their season will end on game 82. Still, they kept their slim playoff hopes alive on Wednesday night … and managed to spite a team they’re growing to hate.

OK, maybe the hate is almost totally focused upon Matthew Tkachuk, yet the disdain for that talented-but-tormenting rookie was palpable.

It didn’t feel like the Kings exacted physical revenge on Tkachuk, but beating his team 4-1 ranked as classic scoreboard vengeance. With that, the Calgary Flames (and by extension the St. Louis Blues) will need to wait to clinch a playoff berth.

Now, as much as tonight was about Tkachuk, the focus was also on a pugnacious player who once dazzled for the Flames: Jarome Iginla.

In what might be Iginla’s final visit to Calgary – at least as an active NHL player – he was one of the best players on the ice. His fitting curtain call included a “Gordie Howe hat trick” with a spirited fight, an assist and a goal.

Seriously, that fight with Deryk Engelland:

That goal included a bit of luck, but hey …

Iginla was named the first star of the contest, and cameras captured his big smile in enjoying a special night. For all the nastiness of that game, it was refreshing to see such a heartwarming moment.

For more on the violence, check out this post on the early stuff and this one on Tkachuk’s missed missile launch on Drew Doughty.

Kings and Canucks will square off in first NHL exhibition games in China

graphic via NHL
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It’s official: the NHL will hold preseason games in China before next season.

The league made the announcement on Wednesday night: the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks will play two exhibitions: one on Sept. 21 (Shanghai) and Sept. 23 (Beijing). How cool is that?

“It is a privilege and an honor for the L.A. Kings to represent the National Hockey League in China as part of these two games against the Vancouver Canucks,” Kings president Luc Robitaille said. “Growing the game of hockey is something we take great pride in and it is a big priority for our hockey club and AEG as a whole. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our players and our staff, and we are looking forward to the games taking place in two tremendous facilities in two remarkable cities.”

The press conference inspired some jokes tonight.

Some of the best bits came in roping in … Kobe Bryant and David Beckham?

Alrighty then.

Click here for more details.

 

Video: Drew Doughty (mostly) avoids massive Matthew Tkachuk hit

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Hockey is such a fast sport that it’s probably not so easy to make someone your “target.” Instead, a big hit often comes down to the right combination of circumstance and timing.

Still, there’s no denying that Matthew Tkachuk is gunning for Drew Doughty (and the Kings are gunning for Tkachuk) on Wednesday.

Doughty isn’t oblivious to that notion, either, as you can see him avoid what looked like a pretty terrifying hit above.

We’ve already covered the early violence in this game, and it’s quite possible that there will be more carnage going forward. Stay tuned.

Blackhawks bolster Central lead, shine harsh light on Penguins’ struggles

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Blame it on injuries if you want, or emphasize the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall hot finish to the season. Either way, Chicago scorched the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 5-1, a contest that felt more or less over by the time the first period ended 4-0 in the Blackhawks’ favor.

The Blackhawks scored by committee on Wednesday, with Artemi Panarin (goal, assist) and Patrick Kane (two assists) being the headliners. Meanwhile, former Penguin Marian Hossa has quietly climbed to 25 goals on the season.

Meanwhile, the Penguins limped through this one and have now lost four consecutive games.

With this result, the Blackhawks look like close to a lock to win the Central Division title. Meanwhile, the Metro crown is virtually unthinkable for Pittsburgh, and the Penguins might also need to accept the likelihood that they may not enjoy home-ice advantage in the first round.

They’d probably accept that more easily if they can get healthier and get back on track. Wednesday was a little worrisome in those regards.