John Tavares

Isles ‘unlikely’ to leave for Brooklyn early

Despite NHL commissioner Gary Bettman’s wish that the New York Islanders leave for Brooklyn after the 2013-14 NHL season, one year earlier than their move to the Barclays Center was originally planned, it doesn’t sound like that’s going to happen.

“It’s highly unlikely,” said developer Bruce Ratner Friday, one day after his group won the bid to renovate Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, the soon-to-be-former home of the Isles.

So that’s one takeaway from today’s press conference — the Isles are probably staying put for two more years. Here’s another takeaway, from Newsday:

Ratner announced that the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the American Hockey League minor league affiliate of the New York Islanders, would relocate to the Uniondale arena after the building is renovated. 

Granted, in a statement (per IslandersPointBlank), the AHL club is saying, not so fast:

“Our agreement with the City of Bridgeport ends on August 31st, 2020. We have seven years remaining on this deal. The Sound Tigers have an agreement to play in Webster Bank Arena until then and plan on doing so until we hear otherwise from our owner. There is no agreement in place between the Islanders organization and the Ratner Group or Barclays Center. The Sound Tigers love being in Bridgeport and absolutely plan on spending at least the next seven AHL seasons here.”

But it should be noted that the Tigers are owned by Charles Wang, who also owns the Islanders, so the club could, in fact, be hearing otherwise.

There are rumors that the New York Rangers’ AHL affiliate in Hartford could move to Bridgeport to replace the Tigers.

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    Benn, Holtby and Galchenyuk are NHL’s three stars of the week

    Cory Schneider, Alex Galchenyuk ,
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    Stars winger Jamie Benn, Capitals goalie Braden Holtby and Canadiens center Alex Galchenyuk have been named the NHL’s three stars for the past week.


    Benn shared the League lead in goals (4) and points (6) as the Stars (19-5-0, 38 points) won two of three games to continue their best start to a season in the franchise’s 48-year history.

    Holtby posted a 4-0-0 record with a 1.75 goals-against average, .945 save percentage and one shutout to backstop the Capitals (17-5-1, 35 points) to the top of the Metropolitan Division standings.

    Galchenyuk tied for first in the NHL with four goals and added one assist to help the Canadiens (18-4-3, 39 points) earn five of a possible six points and reclaim first place in the League standings.

    As much as the injuries to Carey Price and Brendan Gallagher have been frustrating for the Canadiens, those are short-term issues that should be forgotten soon enough. Galchenyuk’s play, in contrast, is reason for long-term optimism. The 21-year-old is trending towards becoming the elite No. 1 center the Habs have needed so badly. He’s not there yet, but when’s all said and done, he could turn out to be the best forward (or player, period) taken in the 2012 draft.

    Stepan to miss 4-6 weeks with broken ribs


    Derek Stepan is out 4-6 weeks with broken ribs, the New York Rangers announced today.

    Stepan was hurt Friday on a controversial hit by Boston’s Matt Beleskey. The Bruins’ forward did not receive any supplemental discipline for the check, despite admitting it was “maybe…a little bit late.”

    At any rate it’s a big loss for the Rangers, who suddenly find themselves on a three-game losing streak. Considering the timeline, New York could be without one of its top centers for 12-18 games, give or take.

    The Rangers host Carolina tonight.

    Related: Yep, Alain Vigneault went there — ‘I remember Aaron Rome in this building’

    Price to miss minimum six weeks, so no Winter Classic for him

    Carey Price,
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    Carey Price will miss a minimum of six weeks with a lower-body injury, the Montreal Canadiens announced today.

    That means Price will miss the Winter Classic against the Bruins on New Year’s Day. The 28-year-old goalie has only appeared in 12 games this season.

    On the bright side, the reigning Hart Trophy winner will not require surgery. And considering the Habs have already built up a 13-point playoff cushion in the standings, well, if something like this were going to happen during the season, now is as good a time as any.

    Related: The latest on Price’s injury

    Report: Jets offered Byfuglien for Hamonic, Isles said no

    Dustin Byfuglien

    If Travis Hamonic could choose one team to be traded to, he’d probably choose Winnipeg. The 25-year-old Islanders defenseman wants to be closer to his family, and his family is from Manitoba. Hamonic already owns a condo in Winnipeg.

    So far, though, the Jets and Islanders haven’t been able to work out a deal. The Jets have three right-shot defensemen in Dustin Byfuglien, Jacob Trouba, and Tyler Myers who could, theoretically, be swapped for Hamonic, also a right shot.

    “I think the Islanders were offered Byfuglien and they said no,” Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said this morning on Sportsnet 960 (audio), per Today’s Slapshot. “And I understand why, because Byfuglien’s got no term left.

    “I think they’d love to have Trouba, but the Jets aren’t really there to do it. Myers, if it’s happened – I can’t say for sure it has or hasn’t – I’m not sure that’s the deal either team really wants to make, to be perfectly honest.”

    Byfuglien is a pending unrestricted free agent who’s expected to cash in big-time on his next deal. The 30-year-old may not be the most disciplined player, but at his best, he’s an absolute force on the back end.

    That the Isles reportedly said no to Byfuglien shouldn’t really come as a surprise, given his contract uncertainty. However, it does make one wonder about his future in Winnipeg. Remember that the salary cap is not expected to go up by much, and the Jets have another pending UFA in captain Andrew Ladd, plus a couple of key RFAs in Trouba and Mark Scheifele.

    While it’s never easy to tell what GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is thinking, the big question with Byfuglien and the Jets may end up being when, not if, they part ways. Will it be after the season or before the Feb. 29 trade deadline?