Jackets have plenty to be happy about after realignment

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The Columbus Blue Jackets are upbeat going into the 2013-14 campaign and not all of that is due to their late surge last season or even any of the roster moves they’ve made.

When the Blue Jackets joined the NHL in 2000-01, they were stuck in the Western Conference. Thanks to the NHL’s realignment, the Blue Jackets are going to spend far more time playing opponents closer to home as a member of the newly formed Metropolitan Division.

Having less travel time should be a big plus for the team, but it will also be beneficial to their fanbase and in turn, their bottom line.

“The big plus is just more accessibility for the fans, watching us play,” Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards told The Dispatch in March. “It’s difficult when you go out West so often and we’re on Pacific time and they’re here on Eastern time and the game comes on at either 10 or 10:30.”

Beyond the more convenient start times for road games, Blue Jackets fans will also have plenty of reasons to show up for the contests at Nationwide Arena. Rick Nash will frequently come back to town with the New York Rangers and their other division rivals include Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins, Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals, Claude Giroux and the Philadelphia Flyers, as well as John Tavares and the New York Islanders.

Of course, with that level of competition, making the playoffs will be a sizable task, but then again, their old Central Division wasn’t exactly easy. In fact, the Blue Jackets have losing franchise records against all their former division rivals and a combined 100-148-7-39 record against them. By comparison they are 36-36-7-11 historically against the Metropolitan members, which isn’t exactly breathtaking, but does help highlight that they aren’t going from an easy situation into a brutal one.

It’s hard not to see realignment as a big win for the Blue Jackets as a franchise or, as Blue Jackets president Mike Priest put it, “it’s really hard to exaggerate how much it means to us.”

Related:

Wings GM Holland doesn’t buy being big wins in the East

Blue Jackets season ticket sales are up after strong season

Wings figure to benefit from Eastern Conference move

‘A good start’ — Stamkos stands out in preseason debut

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The Tampa Bay Lightning and National Hockey League unveiled the 2018 All-Star Game logo Friday.

Far more importantly for the Bolts this evening was the return of their all-star center Steven Stamkos, as he made his preseason debut in what was his first game in 10 months.

His 2016-17 season was abruptly ended in the middle of November because of a knee injury and subsequent surgery, making it the second time in four years his regular season had been disrupted by a major injury.

It may still take a while before Stamkos feels truly comfortable coming back from this injury.But his performance on Friday proved to be a very promising start for No. 91, the Bolts and their fans in Tampa Bay.

He didn’t score, but he assisted on two first period goals, including a nice set-up to linemate Nikita Kucherov, and the Lightning beat the Nashville Predators by a score of 3-1. Stamkos also received a healthy dose of ice time, playing more than 19 minutes, including 5:32 on the power play.

His pass to Kucherov resulted in a power play goal.

“It was exciting to get out there, I was pretty anxious about it… It was a good start, something to build on,” said Stamkos afterward, per the Lightning. “It was nice to just go through a game day, I haven’t done it in a long time… I was glad with how the first one went.”

Golden Knights assign 2017 first-round picks Glass, Suzuki to junior

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The Vegas Golden Knights continue to make roster moves during their inaugural training camp.

On Friday, the expansion club assigned four players to junior. That includes 2017 first-round picks Cody Glass of the Portland Winterhawks and Nick Suzuki of the Owen Sound Attack.

The Golden Knights made franchise history by taking Glass with the sixth overall pick and then selected Suzuki at 13th overall. Both players appeared in two preseason games for Vegas, each recording two points in the exhibition opener versus the Vancouver Canucks.

“Nobody is going to rush (the rookies), that’s for sure,” Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant told the Las Vegas Sun following the club’s 9-4 win over Vancouver on Sunday.

“We are in a position where we want to make sure they are ready to play. They are going to be good players when they’re healthy and strong enough to play in the league.”

Vegas has all three 2017 first-round picks — Glass, Suzuki and Erik Brannstrom — signed to three-year entry-level contracts.

Mitchell signed PTO with Blue Jackets — shortly after getting cut by Blackhawks

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When the Chicago Blackhawks announced their roster moves yesterday, John Mitchell was among the cuts.

His professional tryout with the Blackhawks had come to an end, as it did for veterans Mark Stuart and Drew Miller.

It can be an uphill battle to make an NHL roster for veterans on professional tryouts. But for Mitchell, he quickly received another opportunity to attend a camp and try to land a spot, signing a PTO with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Mitchell, 32, has appeared in 548 NHL regular season games with 70 goals and 177 points.

Meanwhile, the Blue Jackets are still without forward and restricted free agent Josh Anderson, as the two sides are stuck in a contract impasse right now. It was reported on Thursday that his representatives have been in contact with Hockey Canada about the 2018 Olympics.

Calgary mayor: ‘Errors of omission’ in Flames arena proposal

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On Thursday, the Calgary Flames released a report claiming they were prepared to contribute $275 million for a new arena, with additional funding — in the ball park of $225 million — from a Community Revitalization Levy.

On Friday, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi responded to the proposal and the events of yesterday.

“I wouldn’t say dishonesty. I would, however, say that there are perhaps some errors of omission,” Nenshi told reporters, according to Global Calgary, when asked if there had been a level of dishonesty from the Flames with their proposal.

The Flames not only released a report with financial details to their website, but they also took out ads in local newspapers. Nenshi took issue with the details the Flames released yesterday.

“What was in that ad was not actually what the last deal on the table with the city was,” he said.

“For example, yesterday you saw that the Flames’ owners are claiming that they’re putting $275 million up front. Makes it sound like a (check) is being put on the table. Certainly that has not been discussed. That would’ve really changed things had that been the discussion.

“The discussion, the last I saw, was the Flames were putting $100 million in and the rest would be a ticket tax, which they wanted the city to take out, to get for and to front. I’m not quite sure how that equals the Flames putting in money up front.”

Yesterday, the Flames added in their report that, after two years of discussions with the city about a new arena, they will no longer pursue a new arena in Calgary.

The Flames currently play at the Saddledome, which is now 34 years old.