Same place, same teams: 2014 Winter Classic to be held at Michigan Stadium

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If there’s a bright side for Red Wings and Maple Leafs fans now that the 2013 Winter Classic’s been canceled, it’s this:

The NHL will try to make up for it in 2014.

That’s the word from the Associated Press today as reports claim the league will re-schedule the Detroit-Toronto game for Jan. 1, 2014, to be played at Michigan Stadium.

It’s no surprise the NHL would make this move.

To take the game away from Detroit/Michigan and not give it back would be a public relations nightmare. Aside from the prestige of hosting such an event, there’s a business side to the Classic as well — last year, the NHL estimated the game in Philadelphia brought in an economic impact of $30-$35 million.

“It would have a tremendous impact,” Detroit Sports Commission executive director Dave Beachnau said of the 2013 Winter Classic. “That time of the year, which is traditionally a slower period for downtown hotels and the region from a visitors’ perspective, certainly it’d be a great shot in the arm.”

There’s also a number of ancillary events falling by the wayside.

The Hockeytown Winter Festival was supposed to be a celebration of all levels of hockey — collegiate, junior and American league — and the rosters for the annual alumni game were flooded with legends and Hall of Famers

But the Red Wings confirmed last week that if there’s no Winter Classic, there’s no Winter Festival.

So while Detroit is probably pleased (okay, maybe not the right word) it’ll eventually get its game, another city’s probably less enthused with the report:

Minnesota.

The Wild have been aiming to host a Classic at Target Field (or TCF Bank Stadium) for some time.

Shortly after this summer’s signings of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, owner Craig Leipold spoke with league officials about having acquired the “star power” needed to host the league’s biggest televised game.

“Obviously we didn’t hire those two guys for the Winter Classic, but it certainly enhanced our position as being a great market to do it,”  Leipold told the St. Paul Business Journal. “I think we had a very good case to have the Winter Classic before these two guys. Now I feel like we’ve got the best case possible.”

Well, maybe the best case for 2015…

Related

NHL cancels 2013 Winter Classic

Bill Daly says CBA talks will resume in the “relatively near future”

Ian White wonders why the NHL would want to play a season without the Winter Classic

Habs president Molson pens glowing farewell letter to Markov

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Another bold move by GM Marc Bergevin, another statement from Montreal Canadiens president/CEO Geoff Molson.

However Molson actually feels about the franchise’s decision to let Andrei Markov leave for the KHL, he provided quite the goodbye letter regarding the 38-year-old defenseman. One can’t help but wonder how Molson feels about Montreal’s overall makeover, whether you believe Mark Streit is really “replacing” Markov or not.

Anyway, that will need to wait. In the meantime, here’s the very kind statement from Molson to Markov:

“On behalf of the entire organization, I would like to thank Andrei for his great contributions during his 16 seasons as a proud member of the Montreal Canadiens. Arguably one of the best defensemen in franchise history, Andrei was a model of dedication to the great game of hockey. A respected figure around the league and among his teammates, Andrei demonstrated leadership both on and off the ice. Andrei’s commitment to our franchise was second to none, proven by his overcoming three serious and potentially career-ending injuries. I would like to wish Andrei the best of luck in the next step of his career, and happiness with his family.”

Speaking of Canadiens all-timers, Larry Robinson had plenty of nice things to say about Markov, too.

Related

Markov, Habs officially part ways.

Markov is headed to the KHL.

Sabres re-sign Eichel’s buddy Rodrigues for two years

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The Buffalo Sabres might have signed Evan Rodrigues back in 2015 in part because he enjoyed so much success as a college linemate with Jack Eichel at Boston University, but the undrafted forward seems like he’s making a case that he’ll be a part of their future in his own right.

The Sabres handed Rodrigues a two-year deal that is two-way in 2017-18 and one-way in 2018-19. Whenever he’s at the NHL level, it’s worth $650K per season.

Rodrigues debuted in 2015-16, scoring a goal and an assist in two games. He managed to play in 30 regular-season contests for the Sabres last season, collecting six points.

He’s shown quite a bit of improvement at the AHL level, in particular. After collecting 30 points in 72 games for the Rochester Americans in 2015-16, he scored 30 again in 2016-17, although he only needed 48 contests to do so. Rodrigues isn’t quite Matt Moulson to Eihel’s John Tavares just yet, but it’s possible that he might at least development into a regular NHL player.

Buffalo’s work isn’t done for the summer just yet, as RFAs Zemgus Girgensons and Nathan Beaulieu still need deals.

Andrei Markov opts for KHL after saying goodbye to Canadiens

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Andrei Markov wanted to play his entire career with the Montreal Canadiens. With that option officially off the table, Markov announced that he’s headed for Russia and the KHL.

“I didn’t see myself with any other NHL team,” Markov said during a conference call wrapping up his lengthy stay with the Habs. “I didn’t see myself wearing another jersey.”

(At least not the jersey of another NHL team.)

The 38-year-old also noted that he hasn’t closed the door to a return to Montreal. That makes sense since it seems like it was largely the Canadiens’ decision to part ways with Markov, essentially replacing him with Mark Streit at a heavily discounted rate.

Beyond the comforts of home, Markov was almost certainly motivated to play in the KHL because of the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The veteran blueliner did not mention which KHL team he’ll end up playing for. There were some rumblings that Markov might sign with the Florida Panthers, but that turned out to not be true.

If it’s a one-year deal, a return to the Habs is at least feasible in 2018-19. Considering his age, it sure seems like this is the end of Markov’s lengthy run with the Canadiens, though.

After making NHL debut, Jones re-ups with Isles

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One of the Isles’ feel-good stories from last season wrote a new chapter on Thursday.

Connor Jones, the undrafted 26-year-old that made his NHL debut in April, has signed a one-year, two-way extension, the club announced.

Jones certainly earned his way to the show. He spent four years at Quinnipiac before catching on with the Oilers, spending time with both their AHL and ECHL affiliates before jumping to the Isles organization in 2015.

Though he’s not an offensive producer — just 19 points in 58 games with Bridgeport last season — Jones emerged as a good energy guy that proved an effective penalty killer.

With AHL Bridgeport, he also played alongside his twin brother, Kellen, who was in attendance as Connor made his NHL debut in April.

Connor would go on to play four games for the Isles, averaging just under 12 minutes per night.