Getty

Former Glendale mayor rips NHL, Coyotes in blistering letter

18 Comments

The former mayor of Glendale is mad as hell at the NHL and the Arizona Coyotes, and she wrote a letter to Arizona lawmakers to say why.

“Strong emotions rushed through me as I read the recent haughty comments from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Coyotes Owner Andrew Barroway regarding their personally motivated announcement of the absolute impossibility of hockey succeeding in Glendale,” wrote Elaine Scruggs in a letter addressed to State Senator Steve Yarbrough and Speaker of the House J.D. Mesnard.

“As the former Mayor of Glendale who had a front row seat for many of the City’s dealings with the NHL and the Coyotes, I cannot sit silently as they mislead the Arizona Legislature and unabashedly insult the community I love.”

Scruggs’ letter is a response to Bettman’s recent letter to state lawmakers pleading support for a bill that would help the Coyotes fund the construction of a new arena in Greater Phoenix.

“The simple truth?” Bettman wrote. “The Arizona Coyotes must have a new arena location to succeed. The Coyotes cannot and will not remain in Glendale.”

To which Scruggs asserts: a “great deal of fast-talking and fuzzy math” have come from Bettman, Barroway, and Coyotes president and CEO Anthony LeBlanc.

“Disregard the fact that the team ranks last in the NHL in hockey spending, continually trades away top talent while it annually ‘builds for the future,’ and spends next to nothing to market the team. I will say what they will not: the Coyotes position at the bottom of the standings is a leadership problem, not a location problem,” Scruggs writes.

“The facts are easy to verify. Before the Coyotes moved out of downtown Phoenix they ranked 29th in attendance out of the league of 30 teams. Their first year in the Glendale Arena they ranked 19th in attendance. Attendance stayed in that tier until the floundering team started losing their disappointed fans’ support.

“Now the NHL and the Coyotes’ ownership group have hitched their wagons to a new scheme: Senate Bill 1149. After receiving hundreds of millions of dollars from Glendale, the NHL and Coyotes ownership are asking a much larger group of Arizona taxpayers for $225 million in public funding for another new arena. It’s the only way to make hockey work in Arizona, they tell us (again). This is the only solution, they say; this is what will make hockey thrive.

“They say a lot of things.”

It is a blistering letter, and you can read the whole thing here.

Related: Report: Coyotes’ arena financing plan in trouble

Islanders’ D getting crowded with four-year deal for Adam Pelech

Getty
Leave a comment

If nothing else, quantity probably won’t be much of an issue for the New York Islanders’ defense in 2017-18.

GM Garth Snow locked down another blueliner on Monday, as he signed Adam Pelech to a four-year contract. The deal is worth $1.6 million per season ($6.4M overall), according to Newsday’s Arthur Staple.

Pelech, 22, played 44 games at the NHL level in 2016-17, collecting 10 points and struggling from an analytics standpoint. He also appeared in nine games with the Islanders in 2015-16.

Staple notes that this could make for a logjam – or, to put a positive spin on it, make for a lot of competition – particularly if the Isles can strike a deal with Calvin de Haan soon. If that pans out, they’d have eight defensemen who would need to go through waivers.

On the bright side, the Islanders’ defense looks respectable on paper, and that’s assuming that Pelech doesn’t take a step forward. If he does, this could be another respectable, under-the-radar move by Snow.

At the moment, it mainly seems like adding depth and flexibility, which isn’t the worst thing, either.

Plenty of opportunity on revamped Blackhawks defense

Getty
Leave a comment

For almost a decade, Niklas Hjalmarsson was a mainstay on the Blackhawks’ back end, quietly providing some of the most effective defense in the league.

But with Hjalmarsson in Arizona now, traded to the Coyotes for the younger-though-less-proven Connor Murphy, it remains to be seen how Chicago’s blue line will roll out next season.

In addition to Hjalmarsson, the ‘Hawks also bid adieu to Brian Campbell, Johnny Oduya, and Trevor van Riemsdyk this offseason.

Add up all the good-byes, and that’s a lot of minutes to replace.

“We’re going to see when we’re putting the pairs together, whether we’re going to reunite [Duncan Keith] and [Brent Seabrook] or look for some balance,” head coach Joel Quenneville said, per CSN Chicago. “There are a lot of options. We’ll look forward to that and sorting it out.”

The way it looks right now, the top four will be comprised of Keith, Seabrook, Murphy, and Michal Kempny. That’s two left shots — Keith and Kempny — and two righties — Seabrook and Murphy.

Read more: After major changes, Bowman thinks Blackhawks are in ‘good spot’

The bottom pairing, though, is anyone’s guess. Newly signed Czech defenseman Jan Rutta is in the mix. But so too are Jordan Oesterle, Gustav Forsling, Ville Pokka, Erik Gustafsson, Viktor Svedberg, and possibly even Luc Snuggerud.

Once training camp starts, it’ll be up to those young players to prove themselves.

“Just the amount of opportunity that is in front of me just drives me even more,” said Oesterle, whom the ‘Hawks signed July 1. “I want to be here and force their hand to keep me here.”

Veteran Michal Rozsival is also under contract for next season. However, he turns 39 in September, and with all that youth champing at the bit, the Blackhawks will be hoping they won’t need him much, if at all.

Chicago’s defense in 2016-17, ranked by total time on ice

Sheary’s agent — who’s also Dumoulin’s agent — hoping to avoid arbitration

Getty
1 Comment

Conor Sheary‘s agent is hopeful that an arbitration hearing won’t be needed with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

And that same agent has reason to be optimistic, since he’s also the agent for Brian Dumoulin, who settled at the last minute today.

“Each (case) is so different,” Andrew Gross told the Post-Gazette this morning. “Ultimately, though, team and player would like to avoid going in that room. It’s not a pleasant experience.”

Sheary’s hearing isn’t scheduled until Aug. 4. The 25-year-old forward is coming off a 53-point regular season. In his young NHL career, he’s already won two Stanley Cups.

That said, the Penguins can’t afford to break the bank on an extension. After all, a big reason for their success has been having players like Sheary on affordable deals — a necessity with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, and Kris Letang taking up so much cap space.

Sheary wasn’t all that productive in the 2017 playoffs either, scoring just two goals with five assists in 22 games, while finishing a team-worst minus-5 for the postseason.

“We’re prepared to go to arbitration,” Pens GM Jim Rutherford said last week.

Of course, Rutherford was also speaking about Dumoulin, and the two sides were able to reach an agreement on him.

You can probably expect a similar outcome with Sheary.

Just don’t bet the house on it.

Preds avoid arbitration with Austin Watson

Getty
Leave a comment

Another narrowly avoided arbitration to pass along.

The Nashville Predators have signed forward Austin Watson to a three-year, $3.3 million contract that will pay him $1 million next season, $1.1 million in 2018-19 and $1.2 million in 2019-20.

Watson’s hearing was scheduled for today.

From the press release:

Watson, 25 (1/13/92), set career highs in goals (5), assists (7), points (12), penalty minutes (99) and games played (77) during the 2016-17 season as he established himself as an integral member of the Nashville roster. The 6-foot-4, 204-pound winger then added four goals and nine points in 22 postseason contests as the Predators advanced to the 2017 Stanley Cup Final. Watson also appeared in 57 games for the Predators during the 2015-16 season, recording three goals and 10 points.

The Pittsburgh Penguins also avoided an arbitration hearing today by signing defenseman Brian Dumoulin to a six-year contract.