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Islanders arena mess update: Bettman again shoots down Nassau talk

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The NHL held a Friday press conference to hype up the 2018 Winter Classic between the Buffalo Sabres and New York Rangers, but the most interesting comments had little to do with an outdoor game.

(Although Jack Eichel watching the first-ever Winter Classic at age 11 is enlightening, and for most of us, a punch in our aging guts.)

While contract talks regarding Eichel came up – he again stated that playing out his contract year is no big deal – the other intriguing subject was not related to the Rangers or Sabres. Newsday’s Steve Zipay and Jim Baumbach report that, once again, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said that he doesn’t think Nassau Coliseum would make sense for the New York Islanders, even as merely a temporary venue.

“Ultimately, whether or not the Islanders want to consider that and bring it to the league or something, you’ve had to ask them about it,” Bettman said. “But my gut reaction is it’s not a viable option.”

Before we try to dig through some of the dizzying aspects of the Islanders’ current situation, note that Bettman said that this is his gut reaction. He didn’t mark the situation downright as impossible altogether. Perhaps there would be room for convincing, though it sounds like it would be an uphill battle.

Even with that slightly optimistic aside in mind, it’s worth noting that it takes a lot of wind out of sails for Bettman to seem disinterested in the idea of merely having a few games at Nassau, as Baumbach also highlights. Such a thought makes Bettman’s latest comments that much more troubling than what he said back in April.

It’s no secret that the Islanders’ shaky arena situation is making a contract extension more difficult to work out with John Tavares. How many star players want to be a part of a team that resembles a struggling college student bouncing among friends’ couches?

As with many ownership and arena situations, things can be tricky. Getting a few positive breaks doesn’t necessarily guarantee that all will work out, especially with the scary timeline of Tavares only having one season remaining on his current contract.

Some dates to remember

It wasn’t all about killing hope for the Islanders fans back in April, as Bettman gave a tentative thumbs up to two possibilities: an arena on land near Belmont Park or one next to Citi Field, home of the New York Mets.

The array of possible deadlines and hiccups can be confusing, but a few dates stand out as of today.

For one thing, a Belmont proposal would need to happen soon, as Sept. 28 could be an informative date in the process.

Zipay and Baumbach’s Newsday report notes that the state doesn’t have a timeline for a decision, and a Jan. 30 date that might sound far-off today could come frighteningly soon for the Islanders:

If either the Islanders or Barclays Center want to opt out of their 25-year license agreement, they are contractually obligated to do so by Jan. 30. That means that the Islanders may not know their longterm future when that deadline arrives.

In an ideal scenario where the Islanders get an arena plan in full motion, they’d likely still need to spend a significant chunk of time playing somewhere else as that arena is built. More realistic situations could call for increased certainty well into 2018.

With that in mind, two other key dates could be the 2017-18 trade deadline (usually late February/early March) and the summer of 2018, when Tavares’ current contract expires.

If they don’t know where they’re playing by the trade deadline, would that prompt them to avoid losing Tavares for nothing? Would they be able to move enough in the right direction to buy time in one way or another?

***

The Islanders’ arena situation is becoming winding and frustrating enough to feel in some ways like the Coyotes’ seemingly eternal issues. The added wrinkle for the Islanders is the threat of it scaring away Tavares.

This story is by no means over, but Bettman’s comments once again make it seem like the big events won’t take place on Long Island.

Check out that Newsday story for more details on this confusing and rather nerve-wracking situation.

The Buzzer: MacKinnon the hero; Lundqvist gives up zero

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Players of the night:

Teuvo Teravainen and Sebastian Aho, Carolina Hurricanes:

Teravainen picked up two goals and an assist in Carolina’s 4-2 win over the New York Islanders, while Aho had a goal and two helpers. It was a positive weekend for the ‘Canes as they were able to pick up victories over Buffalo and New York on Saturday and Sunday.

William Karlsson, Vegas Golden Knights:

The Golden Knights, who are currently second in the Pacific Division, took down the division-leading Kings, 4-2, thanks to a pair of goals from Karlsson in the first period.

Just a hunch, but Kings goalie Jonathan Quick is probably going to want this one back:

Highlights of the night: 

The Hurricanes may have come up with the victory, but it was Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy that scored the most impressive goal of the game, as he split two players before beating Cam Ward.

Nathan MacKinnon was up to his old tricks, as he helped the Avs come back to beat the Red Wings. MacKinnon registered the primary assist on Carl Soderberg‘s game-tying goal with under a minute remaining in regulation. He also added this incredible goal in overtime:

Who knew that Ducks defenseman Josh Manson had these kind of moves?

Factoids of the Night:

King Henrik is moving up the all-time list:

Hey, shutouts are never easy, so the fact that King Henrik has 63 of them is pretty impressive. He had to make a key save on Mike Hoffman in the first period:

Ducks goalie John Gibson faced a lot of rubber. He turned away 50 of 52 shots in a 3-2 win over the Florida Panthers.

Suspensions of the Night: 

Sunday was a big night for the NHL’s Department of Player Safety, as they handed out two suspensions.

The first one was given to Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas for his slash to the back of Jets forward Mathieu Perreault’s head. Gudas will sit for 10 games. He’ll also forfeit over $408,000 in salary. 

Predators forward Austin Watson was also disciplined for boarding Avalanche rookie Dominic Toninato. Watson, who isn’t a repeat offender, was suspended for two games. 

Hall of Fame Tribute of the Night: 

The Ducks players wore Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne’s jerseys during the pre-game warmup. As you probably remember, both players entered the Hockey Hall of Fame last week.

I prefer the white “Kariya” jersey, but that’s just me.

Scores:

Hurricanes 4, Islanders 2

Avalanche 4, Red Wings 3 (OT)

Rangers 3, Senators 0

Golden Knights 4, Kings 2

Ducks 3, Panthers 2

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Austin Watson suspended two games for boarding Dominic Toninato

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The NHL’s Department of Player Safety is working overtime on Sunday night, as they’ve handed out a pair of suspensions.

Moments after announcing Radko Gudas’ 10-game suspension, the league handed a two-game ban to Predators forward Austin Watson for boarding Avs rookie Dominic Toninato.

Unlike Gudas, Watson has no history of being fined or suspended during his NHL career.

Here’s the league’s full explanation of their decision to suspend Watson:

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Radko Gudas suspended 10 games for slashing Mathieu Perreault over the head

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We all knew that Radko Gudas would receive a suspension for his slash to the back of Jets forward Mathieu Perreault‘s head, but we didn’t know how long he’d be forced to sit out.

On Sunday, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced that Gudas has been suspended for 10 games for the incident.

The league confirmed that the fact that the Flyers defenseman is a repeat offender played against him in this case.

Check out the Department of Player Safety’s full explanation of the suspension:

The suspension will also cost him just over $408,000 in salary, per Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston. Ouch!

“He got the meaty part of the neck,” Perreault said after the game, per TSN.ca  “It could have been worse, I guess.

“He apologized in the penalty box, but when you look at the replay, it looks like he did it on purpose. It wasn’t an accident. He’s been known for doing stuff like that, so I certainly don’t appreciate it. I’m sure the league will take care of it.”

Gudas served the first game of the suspension on Saturday. He’ll be eligible to return to the Flyers lineup on on Dec. 12 against Toronto.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Flyers will host Penguins in outdoor game at Lincoln Financial Field in 2019

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The battle of Pennsylvania will take a new twist, as the NHL announced that the Philadelphia Flyers will be hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins at Lincoln Financial Field (home of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles) on Feb. 23, 2019.

This will be the second time that these two teams play each other in an outdoor game. Last season, the Penguins beat the Flyers, 4-2, at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

“It’s always a special opportunity to take the game back to its roots and have NHL players skate outdoors,” Penguins president and CEO David Morehouse said in a release. “We competed against the Flyers outdoors at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh 2017 and look forward to completing the in-state ‘home-and-home’ series at Lincoln Financial Field in 2019. It should be a great atmosphere.”

This will be the fifth time that the Penguins are involved in an outdoor door since 2008. They won a shootout decision against Buffalo (2008), they lost a home game to Washington (2011), they lost in Chicago (2014) and they beat the Flyers earlier this year.

It’s the second time the Flyers host an outdoor game (the first one was at Citizens Bank Park baseball stadium). The game at Lincoln Financial Field will be the fourth outdoor game for the Flyers. They lost in Boston in overtime (2010), they dropped home decision to the Rangers (2012), and they had the loss to Pittsburgh last year.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.