Bettman mum on expansion, but Quebec City makes too much sense

34 Comments

NHL expansion to Quebec City is coming. Because, well, it just has to be.

No, maybe it’s not coming in the short term, as commissioner Gary Bettman maintained today. But in the next few years? Again, it just has to be. That, or a team relocates to Quebec City.

Consider:

— Construction is already underway on a new 18,000-seat arena in Quebec City. It’s set to open in 2015.

— The NHL’s return to Winnipeg has been a fantastic success. According to Forbes, the Jets are the 16th-most valuable team in the league, despite playing in a market comparable in size to Quebec City and in an arena that barely seats 15,000.

— The NHL’s new Canadian TV deal makes TVA Sports the new home of all national French-language broadcasts. TVA Sports, in case you were wondering, is a subsidiary of Quebecor Media, a conglomerate that’s controlled by the very wealthy Pierre Karl Péladeau, who hasn’t exactly been secretive about his NHL ambitions.

— The Nordiques left for Colorado in 1995. But as the Conference Board of Canada points out, things have changed since then. Most notably, the Canadian dollar has risen to around parity with the U.S. dollar, and the NHL has a salary cap now.

Add it all up and young hockey fans who never got to experience the inter-provincial rivalry between the Nords and the Canadiens could be in for a treat.

And the NHL could be in for another windfall.

Related: Quebec City mayor remains optimistic about NHL return

Zetterberg on pace to play 1,000th game in Joe Louis Arena farewell

Leave a comment

Barring injury, Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg will get the opportunity to make his 1,000th NHL game even more special.

Detroit head coach Jeff Blashill confirmed today that Zetterberg will play tonight and tomorrow in Carolina, putting the 36-year-old on pace to play his 1,000th game on Apr. 9, the date of the final Wings game at Joe Louis Arena.

The Wings, who will miss the playoffs for the first time since 1990, have eight games left in their regular season. They host New Jersey on Apr. 9.

Tonight’s game was originally scheduled for Dec. 19, but had to be postponed due to poor ice conditions at PNC Arena.

Isles sign Northeastern captain Stevens

Getty
Leave a comment

John Stevens, who just wrapped a four-year career at Northeastern University, has signed a two-year, entry-level deal with the Islanders, the club announced on Monday.

Stevens, 22, went undrafted but emerged as a valuable player for the Huskies, culminating with a senior season in which he served as captain and averaged better than a point per game (28 in 25 contests).

Stevens is the son of longtime L.A. Kings associate coach John Stevens, who formerly served as the bench boss in Philly.

A third member 0f the Stevens clan, Nolan, also played this season at Northeastern — his junior campaign — and was taken by St. Louis in the fifth round of last year’s draft.

McElhinney to start for Leafs tomorrow

Getty
Leave a comment

Curtis McElhinney will start in goal for the Maple Leafs when they host Florida tomorrow.

Which means Toronto’s regular starter, Frederik Andersen, will not.

Andersen, hurt Saturday in Buffalo, only lasted 20 minutes of practice this morning. The Toronto Star, citing a Leafs source, is reporting that Andersen “took a blow to his jaw from a player in Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Sabres.”

McElhinney is 4-5-0 with a .919 save percentage in 10 appearances for the Leafs this season. He told reporters that tomorrow will be the biggest start of his NHL career.

It remains to be seen who will back up McElhinney against the Panthers. The Leafs have recalled goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL on an emergency basis. All three netminders were on the ice today.

Update:

Expect Sparks to be the back-up tomorrow.

Toronto has a three-point playoff cushion, with eight games remaining.

The Leafs also recalled forward Kasperi Kapanen, the 22nd overall draft pick in 2014. Kapanen, 20, has 18 goals and 25 assists in 43 games for the Marlies this season. He’s expected to replace Ben Smith on the fourth line, alongside Brian Boyle and Matt Martin.

Habs sign d-man Mete, who ‘does everything’ for junior team

Getty
Leave a comment

Victor Mete, Montreal’s fourth-round pick at last year’s draft, has signed his three-year, entry-level deal, the club announced on Monday.

Mete, 18, is in his third year with OHL powerhouse London, and finished this season with 15 goals and 44 points in 50 games. He’s developed a reputation as a terrific skater, and often plays alongside fellow Knights d-man Olli Juolevi, who the Canucks took fifth overall at last year’s draft.

London assistant coach Dylan Hunter had high praise for Mete this season.

“When it comes to little nuances of his game, stick on puck, knowing when to make a play and when there isn’t a play to just get it out, he’s one of the best there is right now,” Hunter said, per the London Free Press.

“He does everything for us.”

Mete has one year of junior eligibility remaining, so it’s likely he’ll be back in London next season. At 5-foot-10 and just 180 pounds, he’s undersized and could use another year of development before turning pro.