Heritage

Canucks GM is confident Heritage Classic at BC Place will sell out

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The sun was shining and the temperature was around the freezing mark. If today was the date of the 2014 Heritage Classic, it would’ve been ideal conditions for outdoor — well, quasi-outdoor — hockey in Vancouver.

But today isn’t March 2, so fingers are still crossed that the rain will stay away and the retractable roof of BC Place will be open when the Canucks host the Ottawa Senators that Sunday.

Here’s an NHL rendering of what the stadium might look like during the game:

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While Canucks general manager Mike Gillis called it “incredibly exciting” at today’s promotional press conference, the idea of an NHL game at BC Place, in front of over 50,000 fans, hasn’t been met with total enthusiasm. Wrote columnist Tony Gallagher in The Province when the event was announced in July:

This is really a test, an examination of the hockey market here that everyone knows is pretty strong. They want to find out just exactly how stupid and gullible people are when it comes to NHL hockey, and it’s pretty clear they are betting a fair bit of money that you fans are literally as dumb as a bag of hammers.

So yeah, Tony’s not really on board.

Whether the fans get on board remains to be seen. Tickets officially went on sale to the public this morning, and Gillis expressed confidence that the game would sell out.

“Absolutely,” he said.

The Heritage Classic has been held twice, first in Edmonton (2003), then in Calgary (2011).

The 2014 edition will be shown on NBC Sports Network in the United States and CBC in Canada.

Other outdoor games will be held this season at Michigan Stadium (Winter Classic), Yankee Stadium, Soldier Field, and Dodger Stadium.

Video: Rangers shut out red-hot Sidney Crosby and the Penguins

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The New York Rangers are likely too far behind the Washington Capitals to take any legitimate run at the Atlantic Division down the stretch.

But winners now of four straight, the Rangers have opened up a bit of a gap between them and other Eastern Conference teams in the playoff race. New York scored a 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, winners in six of their last seven games, on Wednesday.

In the process, they held a red-hot Sidney Crosby off the score sheet, which has been a difficult, sometimes impossible task for opposing teams since about the middle of December. He entered this game with a seven-game scoring streak.

(In fact, New York held No. 87 to without a shot on goal in the entire game.)

Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 34 shots he faced for the shutout.

Kevin Hayes gave the Rangers the lead in the first period, before Dominic Moore and Jesper Fast put the game away in the third.

Pittsburgh remains in the second Wild Card spot in the East. The Rangers now move three points clear of the rival Islanders for second in the Metropolitan.

Video: Wideman hearing ‘a tricky case’ as NHLPA hopes to get 20-game suspension reduced

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There is no certain timeline for when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman might rule on Dennis Wideman‘s appeal, according to a report from hockey insider Darren Dreger on NBCSN, as the Calgary Flames defenseman hopes to get his 20-game ban for hitting linesman Don Henderson reduced.

“Now, ultimately what they’re hoping from a Wideman perspective and the Players’ Association is that commissioner Gary Bettman will rule and he will reduce the number of games suspended down from 20,” said Dreger during a segment on NBCSN.

“Is he going to reduce it by three games? Five games seems a bit of a stretch. And when might he do that? There’s no timeline on this.”

Report: Coyotes shut down Vitale (concussion) for the season

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Joe Vitale will not play again this season.

The Arizona Coyotes have shut Vitale down for the remainder of the 2015-16 campaign due to “concussion-related issues,” according to a report from Sarah McLellan of azcentral sports on Wednesday.

Vitale, a 30-year-old veteran center, appeared in only one game for the Coyotes this season. That was back on Oct. 17, when he suffered a concussion and broken orbital bone in a fight with Kevan Miller of the Boston Bruins.

Sens announce Frattin, acquired in Phaneuf deal, will stick with AHL Marlies

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Matt Frattin was traded by the Leafs to Ottawa yesterday as part of the Dion Phaneuf blockbuster.

But for now, he’s staying in Toronto.

On Wednesday, Sens GM Bryan Murray announced that Frattin will remain with the Leafs’ AHL affiliate — the Toronto Marlies — on loan, but will be available for selection should Ottawa require his services down the road.

Frattin, 28, has spent all of this season with the Marlies, scoring nine goals and 22 points in 47 games. His last NHL appearance came during the ’14-15 campaign, with the Leafs.

Prior to that, the former North Dakota standout had spent time in Los Angeles and Columbus.