When will the Canucks decide on Vigneault?

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It’s been two weeks since the Vancouver Canucks were swept out of the playoffs, and still no announcement has been made concerning the future of head coach Alain Vigneault.

Never one to rush things (see: trading Roberto Luongo), the only thing general manager Mike Gillis would say in his end-of-season press conference was that Vigneault would be part of a “thorough review” of every element of the organization.

Vigneault himself has yet to address the media.

The smart money is on a change behind the bench. Vigneault may be the winningest coach in Canucks history, and he may have taken Vancouver to Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cuy finals; however, two straight first-round playoff exits were, in the words of Gillis, “unacceptable.”

“This off-season will lead to difficult decisions including roster adjustments and changes in personnel,” wrote Gillis in a letter to season-ticket holders.

Assistant coaches Rick Bowness and Newell Brown are also considered on the hot seat.

For Vancouver Province columnist Ed Willes, the decision, one way or the other, is taking entirely too long.

It registers as needless dithering. Gillis and Vigneault have been together for five years. The head coach’s track record isn’t exactly a mystery. You could argue Scotty Bowman with Sir Alex Ferguson and Vince Lombardi as his assistants couldn’t have won with the 2013 Canucks, but that seems to be beside the point. If this team is going to reinvent itself, it needs a new face and a new voice.

If Vigneault is indeed fired, it will be interesting to see what he does next. The Dallas Stars have yet to hire a coach to replace Glen Gulutzan. But the only other current vacancy is in Colorado, and that may be filled very soon.

More interesting to Canucks fans, though, will be who replaces Vigneault, and what the team’s on-ice philosophy will be going forward. Gillis has made clear his belief that the game has changed in recent years. Speedy-and-skilled hockey, he believes, is out, while dump-and-chase-and-battle-in-the-corners is back in.

Many disagree with Gillis’s assessment. Or, at the very least, they think he’s overstating things.

But it’s Gillis that’s going to make the call.

Eventually.

All of a sudden, hope for hockey in Houston

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Leslie Alexander’s decision to sell the NBA’s Rockets has revived hope for a hockey team in Houston.

That’s because Alexander is arguably the biggest reason that Houston doesn’t already have a team. The 72-year-old billionaire controls Toyota Center, where the Rockets play. Without getting into all the details, he’s essentially been the only one who could bring an NHL franchise to the city.

From the Houston Press:

But Alexander selling the Rockets (and the lease that goes with it), opens up an NHL-ready hockey arena in Houston. And that’s something that Seattle, which the NHL seemed to favor, can’t offer, and unlike Quebec City, Houston offers up a huge media market with many, many large corporations around to buy up luxury seats.

Houston is certainly a big city. In fact, only four metro areas in the United States — New York, L.A., Chicago and Dallas — have higher populations.

And Houston is growing fast.

Jeremy Jacobs, the influential owner of the Boston Bruins, has not hidden his desire to put an NHL team in Toyota Center. Back in 2015, he told ESPN.com, “I would love to see one in Houston, but we can’t get into that building.”

Perhaps soon the NHL won’t have that impediment.

Predators hire new assistant coach in wake of Housley departure

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The Nashville Predators have hired Dan Muse as an assistant coach.

Muse, who spent the last two years as head coach of the USHL’s Chicago Steel, will be in charge of the Preds’ forwards as well as the penalty kill, while associate head coach Kevin McCarthy  — in the wake of Phil Housley’s departure — will now have responsibility for the defense and the power play.

Muse led the Steel to a championship in May. He also won an NCAA title in 2013 as an assistant coach for Yale.

“Dan comes to us as a successful young coach that brings great energy and passion to the game,” said Preds head coach Peter Laviolette in a statement. “He has worked his way up through the coaching ranks, first winning an NCAA title at Yale in 2013, and then taking a Chicago team that had missed the playoffs eight straight seasons and turned them into the Clark Cup champions in just two seasons. We are excited to welcome him to the organization and look forward to his contributions to the coaching staff.”

Senators avoid arbitration with Ryan Dzingel

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The Ottawa Senators have narrowly avoided arbitration with Ryan Dzingel.

Per Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Dzingel has signed a two-year deal with a cap hit of $1.8 million.

Dzingel’s hearing was scheduled for today. Last season, the 25-year-old forward had 14 goals and 18 assists in 81 games.

Earlier this week, the Sens also avoided arbitration with Jean-Gabriel Pageau, though that case didn’t go down to the wire like Dzingel’s did.

Pageau and Dzingel were the only Sens with arbitration hearings scheduled.

Related: Sens want to avoid arbitration with Dzingel

Palat feels ‘pretty good’ about Lightning bouncing back next season

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Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman accomplished quite a bit this offseason.

Not only did he acquire Mikhail Sergachev for Jonathan Drouin, but he also managed to lose Jason Garrison‘s contract before re-signing Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat. They also signed Chris Kunitz and Dan Girardi in free agency.

Even though fitting everyone under the cap couldn’t have been easy, Yzerman managed to get it done, and it has at least some of his players excited about the prospect of next season.

“I feel pretty good about the team,” Palat, who signed a five-year, $26.5 million contract extension last week, told the Tampa Bay Times. “I like all the new guys. They’re in the league for a while. Great veteran guys, experienced guys. That’s what you need to have on your team if you want to win a Cup.”

Going into last season, many people pegged Tampa Bay as one of the teams that would compete for the East Division crown. Not only did they not win the East, they didn’t even qualify for the playoffs. A lot of that had to do with injuries, but there’s no denying that the 2016-17 season was disappointing for the Bolts.

Despite not playing hockey in the spring last season, there seems to be a good amount of optimism surrounding the team’s chances of making a run this year (a healthy Steven Stamkos would help in a big way).

Sure, keeping guys on the ice and off medical tables would increase the odds of the team having a bounce back season, but there’s more to it than that. Outside of a handful of players (mainly Nikita Kucherov), the Lightning didn’t get consistent efforts from a lot of their key players that were healthy.

“It was an experience for us last year because we came from two good (playoff) runs and we thought we were going to make the playoffs just like that, and it didn’t happen,” added Palat. “In the NHL we have to play good from the beginning of the season, and we have to be good all season long.”