Report: MLSE’s had “preliminary discussions” about Gretzky as Leafs president

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Roughly two weeks after Brian Burke was fired as president and general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, a new potential suitor may have emerged for the club’s presidency.

The Great One.

According to Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos, MLSE has had “preliminary discussions” about Gretzky possibly taking Burke’s old job.

With the GM reins already handed to Dave Nonis, the president’s title still needs to be filled.

It should come as no surprise that Gretzky would be in the mix for said gig, given a report from last year claiming Gretzky had been approached by groups eyeing the purchase of MLSE.

Here’s more, from the Toronto Star:

Gretzky told Sportsnet on Thursday that in recent months multiple groups have asked him to be part of a $1.5 billion offer for control of the sports conglomerate.

What exactly his role would be — whether figurehead, president, or in the management team — was unclear, but adding him as Canadian content for a U.S. owner makes a lot of sense, said Richard Powers, associate dean at the Rotman School of Business at the University of Toronto.

“It would be a smart move for the people with the money — attracting a Canadian hockey legend and icon as a spokesperson for the ownership group generates publicity and gets attention whenever he shows up,” said Powers.

At that time, whispers suggested Gretzky was being courted to get involved at an ownership level. But that’s no longer an option as Bell and Rogers joined forces to buy MLSE for $1.3 billion back in December.

This new development would (theoretically) see him in an executive role, responsible for the shaping of the organization and, perhaps most importantly, the on-ice product.

Update

TSN’s Bob McKenzie says there’s been “no direct contact” between MLSE and Gretzky.

Update 2

Further explanation from Kypreos (we misinterpreted his earlier tweet)

While the name Gretzky has come up within MLSE walls, I have no internal info that suggests formal talks have even taken place. #easytwitter

— Nick Kypreos (@RealKyper) January 22, 2013

Video: Austin Watson takes a shot at Vladimir Tarasenko

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The St. Louis Blues and their fans showed class in how they reacted to Kevin Fiala‘s very, very scary injury during Game 1.

Still, these are two physical Central Division rivals, so you expect to see some nastiness here and there between the Blues and Nashville Predators.

One moment that will likely divide onlookers came when Predators tough guy Austin Watson got a shot in on Vladimir Tarasenko, at least briefly hurting the world-class sniper.

It’s unlikely to be a big deal since Tarasenko seems to be OK, but there may be some debate here. On one hand, there are those who believe Watson got away with a cheap shot; on the other, some seem to imply that there was some embellishment. Maybe it’s even a combination of the two?

Either way, the Predators enter the third period up 3-1, so St. Louis will likely ask Tarasenko to focus on getting revenge by scoring goals.

Blues just have no answer for P.K. Subban right now

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In the first round, P.K. Subban was dominant against the Chicago Blackhawks, but mainly if you look at “fancy stats.” There’s nothing wrong with two assists in that sweep, but those aren’t jaw-dropping numbers.

You don’t need to dig deep to see his impact on Game 1 against the St. Louis Blues. A mere glance at the box score – or a chance to see his blistering shot – and you’ll realize that the Nashville Predators defenseman has been a nightmare for Jake Allen & Co. so far on Wednesday.

Subban seemingly scored his first postseason goal with the Predators to make it 1-0, but Colin Wilson was actually credited with the tally.

No bother there. Subban gave the Predators a crucial lift shortly after player resumed following Kevin Fiala‘s horrifying injury, getting that first Predators playoff goal with another booming shot.

Subban managed to draw a slashing penalty on Scottie Upshall and also sent another huge shot to set up a James Neal goal. There’s no mistaking that P.K. has played a huge role in Nashville going up 3-1 so far; the Blues need to find some answers, and fast.

Video: Predators’ Kevin Fiala leaves on stretcher, hospitalized after scary fall

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The crowd in St. Louis was sent to stunned silence at the scary sight of Nashville Predators rookie Kevin Fiala crashing feet-first into boards during the first period of Game 1.

Fiala was taken off the ice on a stretcher after he awkwardly hit the boards following a hit by Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo. An arena announcement indicated that Fiala will be taken to a nearby hospital.

The Predators announced that Fiala is alert and stable in an update.

It’s a cruel twist for the 20-year-old forward, whose high-end speed stands out most when you first see him. A bit longer than a week ago, he scored the biggest goal of his career as he ended Game 3 against the Chicago Blackhawks with the overtime-clincher. Now one has to wonder about his bigger-picture health.

Members of the Blues and Predators both escorted Fiala off the ice during a stunning moment for all involved.

Colin Wilson: still far more productive in playoffs (Video)

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When you put together a list of “clutch” players, do you put Colin Wilson on it?

Before you laugh that question off – which, really, that’s kind of mean – consider how productive the under-the-radar Nashville Predators forward is during the postseason.

In 33 career playoff games, Wilson had 11 goals and nine assists for 20 points. He’s now at 12 goals and 21 points in 34 games after the first period of Game 1, and there is time to add to those totals.

That’s already pretty solid, but consider his regular season: 12 goals and 35 points in 70 games. He’s only scored 20 goals once in his career.

Yet … for whatever reason, when the games get bigger, the 27-year-old has developed a knack for scoring at a much higher clip. In the case of Game 1 against the Blues – his first game of this postseason thanks to injuries – he deflected P.K. Subban‘s booming shot for the 1-0 goal. Watch it above.

And wonder: is it hasty to consider him clutch?