NHL Combine

Bettman: Buffalo ‘vigorously pursuing’ NHL scouting combine


Could the annual NHL scouting combine be on its way out of Toronto?

From the Associated Press:

The NHL is already interested in Sabres owner Terry Pegula’s $172-million downtown Buffalo hockey/entertainment complex, even though the facility is not completed yet.

Commissioner Gary Bettman told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the league is considering the Sabres’ pitch to relocate the NHL’s annual pre-draft scouting combine from Toronto to Buffalo.

”It’s something that’s being discussed, and I know it’s something that Ted Black is vigorously pursuing,” Bettman said by phone, referring to the Sabres president. ”It’s a work in progress. We haven’t made any decisions. But we’re taking the expression of interest very seriously.”

Bettman made the revelation during an interview regarding Pegula and the facility he’s building. It’s called HarborCenter, and is currently under construction across the street from the Sabres arena.

Black confirmed the Sabres’ interest in hosting the combine, telling the AP it was “another example of the ways that we’re trying to promote Buffalo and HarborCenter as an international hockey destination.”

The Sabres have already booked a few key events — USA Hockey’ All-American Prospects Game will be played at HarborCenter for the next two seasons — and reports have surfaced about Buffalo’s interest in hosting the 2018 World Junior Hockey Championships as well.

The NHL scouting combine has grown over the years, but has always been held in Toronto. Last year, 101 of the top North American and European prospects descended on the Toronto Convention Centre for a week’s worth of interviews, fitness and endurance tests.

Kane scores OT-winner, caps Islanders’ bumpy start in Brooklyn

Patrick Kane

On paper, it’s the perfect way to kick off meaningful hockey in Brooklyn, as the New York Islanders faced the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks on Friday.

In reality, there were some highs and lows, culminating with Patrick Kane scoring a power-play overtime-winner to give Chicago a 3-2 (OT) win.

The Barclays Center crowd was going to be a big part of the story one way or another, but even by building-opening standards, the audience made some waves.

Indeed, Kane was greeted with some jeers during his first road appearance of the 2015-16 season, though he didn’t sound surprised.

(There were other controversial chants, apparently.)

Speaking of the crowd, it may not have been the greatest turnout:

ESPN goes way, way in depth on how the change of locale was received, by the way.

It wasn’t a perfect night inside the rink, either, as there weren’t exactly rave reviews about ice quality. New York Newsday’s Arthur Staple compared the ice to a “slushy” and “soup,” with an anonymous Islander (or Islanders) describing the conditions as “awful.”

Kane was pretty diplomatic about it, for what it’s worth.


So, no, it was not a perfect night for the Islanders.

They probably envisioned a teeming, perfectly mannered crowd. Management likely expected Jaroslav Halak to be in net, too.

Sometimes breaking ground is often about overcoming those early stumbles, though, and maybe the best review is to parallel the on-ice results: the Isles at least got a point out of it.

Let’s not forget that there are some cool perks that come with this situation, even if the specifics may vary.

If you want even more information/photos/etc., you’d probably do well to check out #IslesOpeningNight.

Columbus collapse: Rangers spoil Blue Jackets’ opener

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For a little more than a minute, Brandon Saad was going to be the story of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ opener. Instead, his power-play goal merely got the ball rolling on a flabbergasting finish.

The New York Rangers scored three goals in 1:17 of game time to manage a 4-2 win.

They’ve now spoiled home openers for the Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets to begin their 2015-16 season.

It might be easiest just to show you when the goals were scored, noting that the third period began with a 1-1 tie.

Brandon Saad power-play goal: 16:10 into third period (2-1 Columbus)
Oscar Lindberg: 17:24 (2-2 tie)
Kevin Hayes: 17:41 (3-2 Rangers)
Mats Zuccarello: 18:41 (4-2 Rangers)

Yikes. Zuccarello scored two of the Rangers’ goals, while a beauty by Cam Atkinson is likely long forgotten.