Don Cherry: ‘If I’m betting, I’d say no’ NHL season

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There’s still time to save the 2012-13 campaign, but Don Cherry certainly isn’t holding his breath.

“If I’m betting, I’d say no [NHL season],” Cherry told CBC’s Matt Galloway.

That’s a depressing reversal from his August prediction of a two-month lockout.

At this point, we can’t count on getting a full 82-game schedule even if the lockout ended today and the Winter Classic is reportedly in danger.

There’s still time to save the season, but Cherry thinks that if it doesn’t happen by Jan. 1, then “we might have [the season] gone.”

Cherry also lashed out at critics who blame NHL commissioner Gary Bettman for the lockout.

“It’s absolutely ridiculous,” he said. “[The owners] had a vote at the start… 30 said yes [to the] lockout. It wasn’t Bettman. If they had said no lockout, there wouldn’t have been a lockout. He’s the guy everybody goes after, it’s ridiculous. If 20 owners walked up to him right now and said ‘we’re going back,’ they’d go back.”

If you’re looking for a somewhat more optimistic look on our chances of having a 2012-13 campaign, then you might be interested in what Jeremy Roenick has to say.

Sabres granted permission to speak with Futa

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Earlier this month, the Los Angeles Kings promoted Mike Futa to assistant general manager.

But Futa received that promotion before the Sabres cleaned house last week, and that timing is important to note.

Because it’s now being reported, via a Kings spokesman, that the Sabres have been granted permission to speak with Futa about their GM vacancy.

It’s no surprise that Buffalo has asked to interview Futa. He was a candidate for the Sabres’ GM job in 2013 — a job that eventually went to Tim Murray.

Futa was once thought to be heir apparent to Dean Lombardi in Los Angeles. But when Lombardi was fired, the Kings went with Rob Blake instead.

Some background on Futa, courtesy the Kings:

Futa most recently served as Kings Vice President, Hockey Operations and Director of Player Personnel. This upcoming season will be Futa’s 11th season with the Kings.

Futa recently concluded his 10th full season with the Kings, and third in his most recent position. He was named VP of Hockey Operations and Director of Player Personnel in May of 2014 after serving as Director of Amateur Scouting, a position he assumed on June 5, 2007, when he originally joined the Kings.

Futa came to the Kings when he was appointed Co-Director of Amateur Scouting along with Mark Yannetti. Together, Futa and Yannetti rebuilt and retooled the entire Kings Amateur Scouting staff.

Related: Darryl Sutter wants to keep coaching

Habs sign Quebec League sniper Waked

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On Friday, Montreal agreed to a three-year, entry-level deal with QMHJL Rouyn-Noranda forward Antoine Waked.

Waked, 20, is coming off a strong season in which he racked up 80 points in 67 games. He finished tied for ninth in the league in goals, with 39, in what was something of a surprise. Previously, the Quebec native had never scored more than 15 goals in a campaign, suggesting Waked could be the prototypical late bloomer.

An undrafted free agent, Waked had been tied to the Habs earlier this season, with reports he’d receive an ELC at the end of his junior campaign.

With pressure on, Ken Holland is scouting more than ever

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The last time Detroit picked inside the top 10, the year was 1991. The selection was Martin Lapointe.

Suffice to say much has changed since then.

For a quarter century, the Red Wings didn’t need to put a ton of effort into the top end of the draft. They often picked in the mid-to-late 20s — if they were in the first round at all — and did most of their work in the late rounds.

Now, things have changed again.

Detroit finished 25th overall and has a 6.7 percent chance of landing the No. 1 overall selection at the June draft in Chicago. If the Red Wings don’t land one of the top three selections, they will pick at No. 7, 8, 9 or 10.

And, accordingly, GM Ken Holland is prepping for all types of scenarios.

“It’s probably the most (Holland) has scouted since he’s been GM,” assistant GM Kris Draper said, per MLive. “I’ve done a lot of scouting this year. Being in Michigan, you’re in an ideal situation to see a lot of the top kids.

“It’s been a great opportunity to see a lot of high-end names in the draft.”

This is a hugely important draft for Holland. He’s come under fire in recent years for questionable free agent acquisitions — veterans like Stephen Weiss, Jordin Tootoo, Brad Richards, Carlo Colaiacovo — which, in turn, have tied into a larger criticism. The one in which Holland’s accused of torpedoing the club’s future by continually chasing the now-defunct playoff streak.

And that, in turns, ties into an even larger criticism.

That Holland won’t entertain the rebuild idea at all.

“We’re going to continue to try and be competitive, we’re going to continue to try and make the playoffs and our ultimate goal is to eventually be a Cup contender,” Holland said a few months ago. “To me, rebuild means eight to 10 years, and there are teams that have made the playoffs one year in 10 while rebuilding.”

Which brings us back to the draft.

The two days in Chicago will be profoundly important. Holland has an opportunity not just to get an impact player in the top-10, but also walk away with a large collection of talent.

In addition to their own selections, the Wings added three third-round picks by selling off Brendan Smith, Thomas Vanek, and Tomas Jurco at the deadline.

“Somebody told me it’s the most picks we’ve had in a draft since 2002,” said Holland. “Usually we go into these drafts with five or six picks, (because) we’ve traded picks away.”

The end goal? Stockpile options that can hopefully join a youth movement that includes Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha, Andreas Athanasiou, Tyler Bertuzzi, and Evgeny Svechnikov.

“These moves that we made for these draft picks will allow us to pick more players,” said Holland, “and hopefully some of them will end up as Red Wings down the road.”

Related: It’s going to be a very different draft for Detroit

Sens win, but empty seats get the attention

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All the talk in Ottawa today should be about the Senators’ big win over the Rangers.

Instead, the city’s playoff excitement has been hijacked by a familiar topic — attendance woes.

A crowd of just 16,744 was announced at Canadian Tire Centre last night. Pictures of empty seats were all over social media. It had to be embarrassing for the home team, not to mention its combustible owner.

Read more: Plenty of tickets available for Game 1 in Ottawa

There are plenty of theories that attempt to explain the poor attendance. The suburban arena gets blamed a lot, and it’s true that the location is quite inconvenient. Some say the defensive style that coach Guy Boucher employs does not make for an entertaining enough product.

Here’s Sens reporter Ian Mendes with his take for TSN.ca:

The truth of the matter is that Ottawa simply doesn’t have a big enough season ticket base. Though the club never publicly discloses how many season tickets they have sold, it stands to reason that the number is well under 10,000. That means on a nightly basis, the Senators have to drum up enough walk-up sales to fill at least half their building – which is located well outside of the downtown core.

A better crowd is expected Saturday afternoon for Game 2.

But there are still tickets available.

Related: Poor attendance an early story in Ottawa