Gretzky: NHL’s return to Quebec City ‘only a matter of time’


It’s no secret that Quebec City wants an NHL franchise, but it looks like hockey’s return to Quebec’s capital isn’t imminent.

It’s still possible that the Phoenix Coyotes will have to move, but recent reports suggest that Seattle might be the alternative destination for the franchise.

Regardless of what happens with the Coyotes, Wayne Gretzky remains confident that there will be an NHL franchise in Quebec City — eventually.

“I think it’s only a matter of time before Quebec City is going to get a franchise,” Gretzky said, according to the Ottawa Citizen. “Listen, I think we all agree it’s a good city and it can support an NHL team, especially now with the salary cap rules and the parity we have in the game of hockey.

“When that’s going to be, it’s anybody’s guess but when they do come back in, it’s going to be a strong, solid franchise just like Winnipeg is now and it will be as successful as they are.”

Gretzky is the former head coach and part-owner of the Coyotes, but don’t assume he’s trying to share some insider information between the lines, because by his own admission he doesn’t have any on the subject.

“Honestly, I’ve not followed it at all,” he said. “I don’t live in Arizona anymore and you probably know more about it than I do.

“I’d be just guessing if I said anything . . . and probably so would you.”

He also still believes hockey can work in Glendale.

“Hopefully they get the right owner that can go in there and keep that franchise in Phoenix,” Gretzky said.

Crosby backs NHL expansion: ‘Quebec City is the one that sticks out for sure’

After healthy scratch, Severson vows to play ‘next 80 games’

Jimmy Hayes, Damon Severson
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Damon Severson was a healthy scratch on Saturday.

It’s the last game he wants to miss this season.

“I had a good chat with a few people and just pretty much said, ‘I want to be in the next 80 games,’” Severson said, per The Record. “I sat out my game and that’s all I want to be out for for the year.”

Severson is one of the Devils’ most important young players. But this is also the 21-year-old defenseman’s sophomore season, and that’s when slumps can occur.

Hence, the early message he was sent by the coaching staff.

Severson is expected to be back in the lineup tonight when New Jersey hosts Nashville.

“He doesn’t have to be perfect,” coach John Hynes told reporters. “We’d just like to see him have a high compete level. We know he’s ready to go. We had a couple of good meetings with him. He’s in a good spot mentally. I know he’s ready to roll.”

Virtanen to make NHL debut tonight versus Kings

Jake Virtanen
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Jake Virtanen, the sixth overall pick in the 2014 draft, will make his NHL debut tonight when his Canucks meet the Kings in Los Angeles.

The 19-year-old winger was a healthy scratch for Vancouver’s first three games of the regular season. He had two goals and two assists in six preseason games.

“I can’t wait,” he told reporters. “My energy is high. I want to get a couple of hits on my first shift.”

Big and physical with goal-scoring ability, the consensus is that Virtanen will remain in the NHL and not be returned to junior after he’s played nine games. That consensus could always change based on his play, of course.

The Canucks — who won last night in Anaheim — did not have a full skate this morning, so it’s unclear who will come out of the lineup. The best guess is rookie Jared McCann, who’s been playing third-line center.

If McCann does come out, the Canucks could move Brandon Sutter to third-line center and Virtanen could take Sutter’s spot on the first line with the Sedin twins. Or, there could be more extensive line juggling.