From the Toronto Star:
Two years after communications rivals Rogers and Bell decided to go into business together as co-owners of the Maple Leaf sports empire, the strains in the “unholy” alliance are finally starting to show.
This week at the NHL board of governors meetings in Pebble Beach, Calif., the Leafs were the only club that declined to approve the landmark $5.2-billion television and digital rights deal between the 30-team NHL and Rogers Communications that stunned the hockey world late last month.
Multiple sources confirmed that the vote was 29-0 in favour of approving the 12-year agreement. The Leafs, represented by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment chairman Larry Tanenbaum and CEO Tim Leiweke, shocked the meeting by abstaining from the vote.
And that’s not all. Apparently there was a rather “contentious” MLSE board meeting the other day, fueled by that massive Canadian TV deal that shut out Bell-owned TSN.
All of which should come as no surprise, given Rogers and Bell are fierce competitors. One really does have to wonder if their “unholy alliance” is built for the long run.
The Globe and Mail’s David Shoalts is hearing a different version of events:
…sources with the NHL and MLSE who did not wish to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the corporate relationships between the various parties, said the bitterness between BCE and Rogers had nothing to do with the abstention. Bettman did not have to step in to prevent a potentially embarrassing no vote from the Leafs because Tanenbaum had already decided on the advice of Lastman and MLSE’s lawyers that he would abstain.
But Shoalts doesn’t downplay the potentially problematic relationship between the two companies:
There has already been friction over the firing of Brian Burke last January as the president and general manager of the Maple Leafs and there will be more ahead as some of the regional rights deals with a few of the Canadian NHL teams expire in the coming months.
Pulling Anders Nilsson didn’t stop the bleeding for the Edmonton Oilers. Instead, it really just spread the “wealth.”
The New York Islanders are up 7-1, so don’t be surprised if there’s some ugly stuff in the final frame.
Zack Kassian is an author of at least one outburst, as he was tagged with 19 penalty minutes for a display that included fighting Brian Strait, as you can see in the video above.
It’s not the only fight stemming from the blowout, either, as Eric Gryba just tangled with Matt Martin.
Could there be more?
There was a time when Anders Nilsson seemed like the best bet in the Oilers’ net this season. This … is not that time.
Less than 12 minutes into Sunday’s game, the New York Islanders roared to a 3-0 lead, and that was enough for Edmonton to give Nilsson the hook.
He allowed those three goals on 10 shots, so to be fair, that’s a pretty impressive chunk of chances (almost a shot on goal per minute).
Still, the Oilers were likely hoping to give Cam Talbot a breather, and instead he was rushed into action. Nilsson hadn’t played since Jan. 19, and he’s only appeared in three games in 2016.
As if this didn’t sting enough for Nilsson, consider the fact that he began his NHL career with the Islanders, who eventually decided he wasn’t worth keeping.
Alex Ovechkin scored to join Wayne Gretzky and Mike Gartner as only players with at least 30 goals in each of their first 11 NHL seasons, and Matt Niskanen netted the game winner as Washington beat the Flyers 3-2 at Verizon on Super Bowl Sunday.
Michael Del Zotto and Nick Schultz replied for the Flyers, who suffered their second straight loss.
The win was the Capitals’ third in a row.
It didn’t always look as though Washington would emerge the victor, however. The Caps were out-shot 35-30 on the day and looked disjointed at times, finishing with 12 giveaways (Philly was credited with just five, for comparison’s sake).
But good teams find ways to win when they’re not playing especially well, and the Caps are a pretty good team — especially when Braden Holtby is on his game.
Holtby, atop many Vezina lists at the moment, had another terrific outing on Sunday, making 33 saves, perhaps none better than this one on Mark Streit in the second period:
Holtby’s counterpart, Steve Mason, had a solid outing as well, finishing with 27 stops.
Looking ahead, the Caps will now head out on a three-game Western Conference swing through Minnesota, Nashville and what promises to be a high-octane game in Dallas on Feb. 13.
The Flyers, meanwhile, will now kick off a three-game homestand against Anaheim, Buffalo and New Jersey.
Winnipeg forward Drew Stafford will meet with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety for his high stick on Colorado’s Nick Holden on Saturday night, the DoPS announced this afternoon.
There was no immediate video of the incident available. Stafford wasn’t penalized on the play, which occurred during the third period; Holden finished the final frame with 10 shifts for 6:46 of ice time.
Stafford, 30, has a clean disciplinary history and hasn’t been fined or suspended during his 10-year NHL career.