Report: NHL to present Glendale with Coyotes ownership plan next week

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It appears a significant step in the Phoenix Coyotes ownership situation will soon be taken.

According to Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has scheduled meetings with him and city council members on Tuesday morning, where it’s expected Bettman will lay out an ownership plan for the Coyotes.

It’s believed the Renaissance Sports and Entertainment group — led by Canadian businessman George Gosbee — has secured the league’s approval, according to Fox Sports Arizona’s Craig Morgan.

Weiers said the fact Bettman approached him and city council means there’s some sort of development on the ownership front.

“If he’s doing what I asked him to do, which is to not bring us anything unless he had it 100 percent ready to go, if he thinks they’re ready to go, we’ll see what they’ve got to propose,” Weiers told The Arizona Republic.

Bettman, Daly and RSE will reportedly meet with Weiers, then hold two separate meetings, each to be attended by three Glendale councilmembers.

The Coyotes had already scheduled a Tuesday presser to announce an extension for GM Don Maloney (see below) but, when reached by the Republic on Friday, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said “other than Don Maloney’s new contract, we have nothing new to report on the Coyotes.”

In late April, Daly confirmed the league was currently in discussions with the Gosbee group — a group that, according to Paul Gilbin of the Arizona Republic, includes three other business executives (Anthony LeBlanc, Avik Dey and Daryl Jones) working under the name Renaissance Sports and Entertainment.

“There’s no doubt we’re dealing with Mr. Gosbee and Mr. LeBlanc and trying to work through and get to a deal with them,” Daly told Sportsnet’s Hockey Central (by way of AZ Central). “But there are other interested people that we’re working with at the same time, as well.”

Word of Tuesday’s announcement has spread quickly throughout the league.

On Friday evening, Andi Petrillo of CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada tweeted rumors that the league was going to announce new Coyotes ownership on Tuesday, and that the Gosbee group was the front-runner.

There have been other signs as well.

On Friday, the Coyotes locked up Maloney to a “long-term contract,” which was announced with this statement from Daly:

“Since joining the team in 2007, Don has done an outstanding job managing his team and building a competitive roster that has produced on the ice, even given less than ideal circumstances off the ice.

“The NHL remains committed to securing the Coyotes’ future in Glendale under new ownership, and we believe Don’s long-term agreement evidences that he is equally committed.”

It must be noted that just because the NHL may have selected a purchaser, doesn’t mean a deal is done.

As Morgan notes, “the plan was for the NHL to choose one buyer before meeting with Glendale. That is exactly what has happened.”

Hurdles would still remain, including reaching an arena management deal with the city of Glendale.

(For more on Jobing.com Arena operating costs, click here.)

Goalie nods: After blowout loss, ‘Hawks start Darling against desperate Bolts

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It wasn’t a good performance from Corey Crawford in Saturday’s 7-0 loss in Florida — the Chicago starter was hooked after allowing four goals on 25 shots.

Of course, it wasn’t a good night for the guy that replaced Crawford, either.

Scott Darling was torched for three goals on six shots against the Panthers, but now gets the first crack at redemption — Darling will start tonight when Chicago gets back into action in Tampa Bay.

The Lightning are hopeful they’ll have as much success against Darling — and maybe even Crawford — as the Panthers did on the weekend. Tampa Bay is desperate for points, and heads into tonight’s action sitting three points back of Boston for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins are idle tonight, but the Isles — who have 82 points, to Tampa Bay’s 81 — are in action, hosting Nashville.

So it’s a big night for Tampa, to say the least. Appropriately, Andrei Vasilevskiy will get the start, after stopping 29 of 30 shots in a big OT win over Detroit on Friday.

Elsewhere…

Eddie Lack is 5-1-1 in March with a .931 save percentage, so he gets the call as the ‘Canes host the Red Wings. Petr Mrazek goes for Detroit.

Roberto Luongo is still out, meaning James Reimer gets yet another start for the Panthers (he scored the shutout against Chicago over the weekend). Robin Lehner is in goal for Buffalo.

— We mentioned the Isles-Preds game above, and it’ll be Thomas Greiss in goal for the host team. It’s his second straight start, having played in Saturday’s loss to Boston, and it comes ahead of the recently recalled Jaroslav Halak. No word yet on a Preds starter.

Jake Allen‘s ridiculous month (7-1-1, .951 save percentage) continues with a start against the Coyotes. Mike Smith will be in goal for the visitors, looking to snap a five-game personal losing streak.

— The Flames will stick with Brian Elliott when they host the Avs tonight. No word yet on a Colorado starter.

Sharks’ Haley suspended one game for Jarnkrok sucker punch

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The NHL’s Department of Player Safety has come down on San Jose tough guy Micheal Haley.

On Monday, Haley was suspended one game for his sucker punch of Preds forward Calle Jarnkrok, near the end of Nashville’s 7-2 over the Sharks on Saturday.

“Haley forcefully punches a player who is off balance, not engaged in the confrontation and not even looking when the punch is thrown,” the DoPS explained, via video. “This is a forceful punch on an opponent who is not able to defend himself at the time.”

The DoPS did acknowledge Jarnkrok’s hit on Haley that preceded the punch — Jarnkrok was given a boarding minor on the play — and also noted that Haley explained he was seeking retribution for said hit.

In addition, the DoPS acknowledged this was Haley’s first offense.

As a result of the suspension, Haley will now miss San Jose’s next game — tomorrow at home against the Rangers — and will be eligible to return on Thursday, when the Sharks take on the Oilers in Edmonton.

Haley will also forfeit $3,472.22 in salary to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

 

Cassidy says Bruins ‘overused’ Rask early on

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Some interesting comments today from Boston Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy, after goalie Tuukka Rask returned to practice.

Cassidy’s remarks came in the wake of Saturday’s big win in Brooklyn — a game that Rask missed with a lower-body injury.

“He had a good practice today,” Cassidy said of Rask, per CSN New England“He’s a guy that’s played a lot of hockey this year … and he’s not a 240-pound goaltender that can handle all of the games, all of the workload every year. We know that. I’m not going to put limitations on him, but we probably overused him at the start of the year. At this time of year, it gets tougher and tougher with any player that’s been overplayed.”

It remains to be seen which netminder will get the nod tomorrow against Nashville at TD Garden. Anton Khudobin stopped 18 of 19 shots in Saturday’s 2-1 victory over the Islanders. After a 1-5-1 start to the season, the 30-year-old backup has won his last five starts.

But Cassidy insisted today that Rask is the Bruins’ “No. 1 goalie.”

“He’s our No. 1 and his health is very important,” said Cassidy. “When he’s physically ready to go and he tells me that, then we’ll make that decision.”

Couture seeing dentist today, Sharks hoping for the best

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Logan Couture took a puck to the face Saturday in Nashville, forcing him to leave an eventual 7-2 loss to the Predators — and leave it without all his teeth.

Today, the San Jose forward is seeing the dentist. The hope, according to head coach Pete DeBoer, is that Couture’s injury isn’t as serious as initially feared.

“You see him the next day, the swelling wasn’t as bad as we thought,” DeBoer said Monday, per CSN Bay Area. “He’s seeing the dentist today, and going to have some dental work done. But, I think the initial prognosis is that we feel pretty fortunate that with the amount of damage compared to what it could have been.”

The slumping Sharks, losers of six straight, have seven games left in the regular season. They host the Rangers tomorrow.