Senators owner Eugene Melnyk is worried that fans may abandon the NHL just like he abandoned baseball after the 1994 World Series was canceled due to a work stoppage.
“Back in ’94, I was a rabid baseball fan, I’m talking like a 40-45 game guy when I still lived in Toronto, I saw the World Series and (the Blue Jays) winning it, went to Atlanta; I was a crazy, crazy baseball fan and after the strike I was gone,” Melnyk said Wednesday on Sportsnet radio. “(I’m) extremely disappointed like any fan of where we are, we should be playing hockey by now. Everybody knows it, and we’re not.”
Unlike the NHL, which recovered relatively well after the 2004-05 season was lost due to a lockout, Major League Baseball was hit hard by fan anger after 1994. Average attendance fell from 31,612 to 24,260 and didn’t return to pre-strike levels for years.
“It was tough. There was a lot of anger everywhere, particularly amongst our fans,” MLB commissioner Bud Selig said in 2004. “It was the eighth work stoppage, so it had been building up for a long time. The sport came to a crashing halt.”
The Senators haven’t been afraid to say they’re pushing the NHL for a speedy resolution to the lockout. Two weeks ago, team president Cyril Leeder admitted they were “encouraging the league to try to make a deal as quickly as possible.”
Related: Three big reasons the fans might not come back
Tonight is a big game for the Arizona Coyotes, as they host Vancouver, one of the teams they’re jockeying with for the final wild-card spot in the West.
If the Coyotes can beat the Canucks in regulation, they’ll move to within two points of Colorado for that final wild-card spot, with three games in hand on the Avs. Not only that, Vancouver’s playoff hopes would be dealt a significant blow.
Of course, that’s a pretty sizable “if” the way the Coyotes have been playing. The Desert Dogs are winless in their last four, with 21 total goals surrendered.
“We have to shore up some things and our goaltending has to be better,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett told reporters, while confirming that Louis Domingue would get the start versus the Canucks.
Domingue, the NHL’s rookie of the month in January, has struggled of late, allowing five goals in each of his last three starts. In the Coyotes’ last game, they turned to Anders Lindback, only for Lindback to surrender five goals himself in a 5-2 loss to Anaheim.
For the Canucks, Ryan Miller is expected to start, after Jacob Markstrom got the win last night in Denver.
— Henrik Lundqvist for the Rangers in Pittsburgh, where Marc-Andre Fleury is expected to start for the Penguins.
— Craig Anderson for the Senators in Detroit, where Petr Mrazek will make his third straight start for the Red Wings.
The Buffalo Sabres have recalled forward Justin Bailey from AHL Rochester.
It’s the first time Bailey, a second-round pick in 2013, has ever been called up to the NHL. The 20-year-old joins the big club after piling up 11 points (5G, 6A) in his last eight games for the Americans.
Most Sabres fans will know that Bailey is from Buffalo (technically, Williamsville), the son of former Bills linebacker Carlton Bailey. (To learn more, click on this Buffalo News story from July.)
The Sabres play Thursday in Philadelphia, where Bailey will reportedly make his NHL debut.
To make room for Bailey on Buffalo’s roster, Zemgus Girgensons (lower body) was placed on injured reserve.
Thing have gone from bad to weird in Minnesota, where embattled Wild coach Mike Yeo was “disappointed” to see Zenon Konopka’s rabbit holding a sign that read, “YEO MUST GO.”
Hey, we told you things had gotten weird.
Konopka, a former Wild player, took to Twitter last night after Minnesota’s latest loss.
Here’s what Konopka tweeted:
And what did Yeo think about that?
“I really don’t care what he says,” he told the Star Tribune, apparently adding with a laugh, “I will say I was very disappointed to see Hoppy holding that sign.”
Now, according to the newspaper’s Michael Russo, “Konopka and Yeo had a lot of issues behind the scenes and that’s why [Konopka] ended up on waivers two Januarys ago.”
Still, that doesn’t change the fact that a lot of Wild fans agree with Hoppy, er, Konopka, and it doesn’t change the fact that the Wild could really, really use a win tomorrow at home to Washington.
Nice work from Artem Anisimov and Matt Niskanen this week, but Connor McDavid‘s tally is on a different level.
You can pretty much bank on McDavid being in Goals of the Year, too. Just saying.