New funding option for NHL-caliber arena in Toronto suburb

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There’s a new proposed financial framework to build an NHL-caliber rink in the Toronto suburb of Markham, according to the general partner of the project, GTA Sports & Entertainment.

From the press release:

This new option proposes that GTA Centre, LP would be responsible for funding all costs towards the construction of the GTA Centre above a maximum amount of $162.5 million, which the City of Markham would facilitate through receiving private sector developer contributions.

As a result of this new option for the financial framework, the City of Markham would no longer need to borrow $325 million — as in the original financial framework option that was approved by an 11-2 vote by City Council in April 2012 — and the GTA Centre would be 100% privately funded.

Two leading investment banking firms, Wall Street firm Jefferies LLC and Bay Street firm Canaccord Genuity have joined the GTA Centre team to support this new option.

Concerns were raised last year about the financial framework of the project. It was reported in August that the deal could be dead by September. Hence, the new proposed framework.

“We believe that our new option should be considered seriously by Council members,” said W. Graeme Roustan, Chairman and CEO, GTA Sports & Entertainment. “I have met with several private sector developers who support the GTA Centre and want to make financial contributions to the city towards its development. I am very confident that the City of Markham will come up with a satisfactory way to receive the contributions from the private sector developers.”

Roustan has claimed in the past that an NHL tenant is not required in order for the building to be profitable; however, if a new rink is indeed built, expect the expansion/relocation speculation to heat up again.

Bolts close gap on struggling Bruins in playoff race

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Well, that was quite a third period.

For the Boston Bruins, it was disastrous. For the Tampa Bay Lightning, it propelled them to a critical victory in the playoff race.

Nikita Kucherov completed the hat trick with a pair of goals in the final period and Jonathan Drouin scored what would eventually be the winner, as Tampa Bay snapped its own three-game losing streak in a 6-3 victory, putting the Bolts within three points of the final wild card spot — held by the Bruins — in the Eastern Conference.

The Drouin goal — his 18th of the season but first since Feb. 19, a span of 13 games — is probably one Tuukka Rask would like back.

Drouin teed up the slap shot from the faceoff circle, beating Rask under the left arm.

And just like that, the Bruins have lost four consecutive games. On Saturday, they face the New York Islanders, another team looking to catch Boston in the wild card race.

Read more: Remember this stretch if Bruins settle for a wild card spot (or worse?)

The Islanders are only two points back of Boston.

Despite the win, there was bad news for the Lightning during this game, as defenseman Jason Garrison left with an injury.

From NHL.com:

The play occurred behind the Lightning goal, Garrison appearing to get his left leg rolled up from behind by a Bruin. Garrison had to be helped off the ice by Anton Stralman and Brayden Point and headed back to the Bolts’ locker room.

The team announced during the second intermission that Garrison sustained a lower-body injury. He did not return to the game.

Video: Ovechkin rocks custom skates for Russian Heritage Night

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As promised, Capitals star Alex Ovechkin rocked a pair of custom skates in honor of Russian Heritage Night on Thursday.

On his right skate, he paid tribute to the United States with a custom design, and paid tribute to his home nation on his left skate while taking the pre-game warm-up prior to facing the Columbus Blue Jackets.

He’ll be auctioning off the skates, as well.

From CSN Mid-Atlantic:

The skates were painted by noted custom shoe artists Nick Avery and Polo Kerber, whom Ovechkin personally selected. The skates feature the U.S. and Russia flags as well as the Capitol Building and Moscow’s St. Basil’s Cathedral.

Video: Crosby slash leaves Methot’s finger bloodied and injured (Updated)

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Sidney Crosby has made news lately for his goal scoring and his use of the stick.

He speared Sabres forward Ryan O’Reilly below the belt the other night, and on Thursday he delivered a slash to Senators defenseman Marc Methot, who has since not returned to the game.

The slash rendered a finger on Methot’s left hand bloodied and injured. It certainly didn’t look good as Method (calmly) skated to the bench.

There was no call on the play.

Updated: Methot won’t return to this game.

Show me the money! Nylander sets Leafs rookie record with latest assist

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Toronto’s talented rookies were back at it again Thursday, as William Nylander and Auston Matthews combined to set up the Maple Leafs’ first goal versus the New Jersey Devils.

Nylander added the second assist on the power play goal, giving him 35 helpers on the season.

That’s significant for a couple of reasons: He extends his point streak to 10 games, which sets a new Leafs rookie record. And the assist reportedly secured him another entry-level bonus:

Not bad.