Anthony LeBlanc admitted today that it was a “blindside” when the Arizona Coyotes’ plans to build a new arena in Tempe fell through late last week.
But LeBlanc, the Coyotes’ ever-optimistic president and CEO, also reiterated his confidence that the team would be in Arizona for years to come. It’s just a matter now of finding another site and another partner, and then striking the right deal so that the team can move out of its current arena in Glendale.
“We feel pretty confident — and this is where I am going to sound like a politician, and I am absolutely becoming one through osmosis through this process — but we really do believe that we will come up with a solution in the relative short term. When I say ‘relative short term,’ that could be six months, that could be a year,” LeBlanc told Arizona Sports radio.
The Coyotes still have no intention of calling Gila River Arena home for any longer than they have to.
“We’re okay staying in Glendale if we know that there’s certainty of a new facility coming online and shovels in the ground,” said LeBlanc.
Hence, the challenge. Because, so far, shovels haven’t come close to shoveling anywhere, which is why there continues to be speculation that the Coyotes will eventually just give up and move to Seattle or Portland.
“On behalf of the entire organization, I would like to thank Andrei for his great contributions during his 16 seasons as a proud member of the Montreal Canadiens. Arguably one of the best defensemen in franchise history, Andrei was a model of dedication to the great game of hockey. A respected figure around the league and among his teammates, Andrei demonstrated leadership both on and off the ice. Andrei’s commitment to our franchise was second to none, proven by his overcoming three serious and potentially career-ending injuries. I would like to wish Andrei the best of luck in the next step of his career, and happiness with his family.”
Speaking of Canadiens all-timers, Larry Robinson had plenty of nice things to say about Markov, too.
The Buffalo Sabres might have signed Evan Rodriguesback in 2015 in part because he enjoyed so much success as a college linemate with Jack Eichel at Boston University, but the undrafted forward seems like he’s making a case that he’ll be a part of their future in his own right.
Rodrigues debuted in 2015-16, scoring a goal and an assist in two games. He managed to play in 30 regular-season contests for the Sabres last season, collecting six points.
He’s shown quite a bit of improvement at the AHL level, in particular. After collecting 30 points in 72 games for the Rochester Americans in 2015-16, he scored 30 again in 2016-17, although he only needed 48 contests to do so. Rodrigues isn’t quite Matt Moulson to Eihel’s John Tavares just yet, but it’s possible that he might at least development into a regular NHL player.
“I didn’t see myself with any other NHL team,” Markov said during a conference call wrapping up his lengthy stay with the Habs. “I didn’t see myself wearing another jersey.”
(At least not the jersey of another NHL team.)
The 38-year-old also noted that he hasn’t closed the door to a return to Montreal. That makes sense since it seems like it was largely the Canadiens’ decision to part ways with Markov, essentially replacing him with Mark Streitat a heavily discounted rate.
Beyond the comforts of home, Markov was almost certainly motivated to play in the KHL because of the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Andrei Markov just told reporters he passed up NHL opportunities to go back to Russia and play in the KHL. Guess we will see him at Olympics
One of the Isles’ feel-good stories from last season wrote a new chapter on Thursday.
Connor Jones, the undrafted 26-year-old that made his NHL debut in April, has signed a one-year, two-way extension, the club announced.
Jones certainly earned his way to the show. He spent four years at Quinnipiac before catching on with the Oilers, spending time with both their AHL and ECHL affiliates before jumping to the Isles organization in 2015.
Though he’s not an offensive producer — just 19 points in 58 games with Bridgeport last season — Jones emerged as a good energy guy that proved an effective penalty killer.
With AHL Bridgeport, he also played alongside his twin brother, Kellen, who was in attendance as Connor made his NHL debut in April.
Connor would go on to play four games for the Isles, averaging just under 12 minutes per night.