Cam Tucker

AP

Report: Without a new arena, Burke says Flames could leave Calgary

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Brian Burke apparently had a lot to say on Wednesday.

The Calgary Flames president of hockey operations reportedly touched on a variety of topics while speaking at an event, including his stance on concussions in hockey. He also addressed the team’s arena situation and the CalgaryNEXT project.

Flames president Ken King has even gone so far as to suggest that without a new arena, the team would consider leaving Calgary. At the time, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi released a statement saying that, “…owners of the Calgary Flames have repeatedly assured Calgarians that they would not threaten to move the team.”

According to Chris Epp of CTV Calgary, Burke took a very similar stance to King when discussing the matter Wednesday.

A refresher: The Flames currently play at the aging Saddledome, an arena that has recently drawn criticism from Burke and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. However, in August 2015, the organization unveiled its plans for a new arena project — CalgaryNEXT — which was originally said to cost $890 million. The original plan, however, was not feasible, according to the city of Calgary.

Nenshi warned that in order for a plan to move forward there needed to be a benefit for the public, considering the reported payment structure for the project unveiled by the Flames included public funding.

Nenshi has reportedly said in the past that the CalgaryNEXT project is “dead.” Burke’s assessment of the situation was the complete opposite, calling it “very much alive,” per Dan McGarvey of CBC.

Report: Leiweke group picked to lead KeyArena renovation project

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The Oak View Group, led by CEO Tim Leiweke, will be selected to lead the KeyArena renovation project, according to KING 5.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray is scheduled to make an official announcement Wednesday afternoon. The news comes just a few days after Seattle Partners, another private firm vying to lead the re-development of the arena, had withdrawn from the bidding process.

Wednesday’s announcement will mark another development in the ongoing Seattle arena saga, which has been ongoing for years, while at the same time spurring talk the city could become a destination for the NHL and/or NBA.NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has in the past said that Seattle isn’t really an option for expansion or relocation until the city gets a viable arena.

In an interview with the Seattle Times, Leiweke, who served as a president and CEO of AEG, which owns the L.A. Kings, and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment based out of Toronto, said the project to renovate KeyArena would take between three and four years. In his estimation, that would be perfect timing.

“But we believe it’s three years,’’ Leiweke told the Seattle Times.

“We believe that there is no franchise today in the National Hockey League or in the National Basketball Association that is in danger of being lost as an opportunity over the next few years. And we believe that should (NHL commissioner) Gary Bettman make a decision to expand, that if you look at the last process they just went through, it was a three- to four-year process to get that building built and to get that (Las Vegas) team up and running this next season.”

The possibility of a KeyArena renovation had thrown Chris Hansen’s brand new SoDo arena project into question.

In October 2016, in another twist, Hansen offered to forego public funding for the project. However, prior to Wednesday’s announcement, in conversation with KING 5, Seattle’s mayor was adamant that the KeyArena project is the one he’d prefer to move forward with.

“The current arena, KeyArena, is a city property. It is a tax liability to the folks who live in this city. If you have a new arena somewhere else than KeyArena, we basically have an empty building and it’s going to cost hundreds of millions of dollars on our own dime to do something with it,” said Murray, adding that council can’t vote on the KeyArena project until Dec. 4.

“This arena is going to happen, and happen in that spot.”

Hitchcock believes Stars are ‘closer to the ceiling than the floor’

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From first in the Western Conference in 2015-16 to 11th this season, the Dallas Stars have experienced quite a swing in the standings in a short time.

Such a disappointing fall this season, as the Stars missed the playoffs despite heightened expectations, ushered in significant changes with the firing of Lindy Ruff and the hiring of Ken Hitchcock, and the acquisition — and eventual signing — of Ben Bishop to shore up the goaltending situation in Dallas.

In 2015-16, the Stars took the NHL by storm, leading the league in goals-for with a talented roster before losing in Game 7 of the second round versus the Blues. This season, they were derailed right away by injuries to key players, their goaltending struggled once again, and eventually everything seemed to go wrong as Dallas finished 15 points out of a playoff spot.

Hired in April to coach the Stars, Hitchock laid out a plan to harness the Stars’ skill, speed and aggressiveness with more structure. On Tuesday, referencing his experience coaching against Dallas while behind the bench in St. Louis, he reiterated belief that this group can move back in a positive direction in the West next season.

“In two years, people have seen the ceiling and they’ve seen the bottom of the floor,” said Hitchcock, per the Stars. “I really have a lot of faith in this group and I think we’re a lot closer to the ceiling than we are to the floor. But there’s going to be a lot of people that … until we prove them wrong, they’re going to say, ‘Hey, one year was a fluke.'”

The Stars do still have a talented roster, led by Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and offensive defenseman John Klingberg. Adding another blue liner to help bolster that part of their team may be an option for general manager Jim Nill, who has discussed moving the third overall pick in the upcoming NHL Draft in order to regain an “established player” in return.

The Stars still have more than $15 million committed to three goalies — recently signed Bishop, Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi. That is a situation worth keeping an eye on in the coming weeks, with the suggestion Niemi may be bought out.

There are many pieces already in place for Dallas, which is only a year removed from a 50-win season. “Reckless energy” is a phrase Hitchcock has used a number of times to describe the 2015-16 Stars.

Now, it’s about re-discovering that mantra after the Stars fell to the floor this year.

So, someone reportedly paid more than $31,000 for tickets to Game 6 in Nashville

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How much money would you be willing to pay to attend a Stanley Cup Final game, especially if that game is a potential championship clincher?

A few hundred dollars? On second thought, that might not be enough. Maybe a few thousand dollars?

Well, one apparent hockey fan has upped the ante.

According to Darren Rovell of ESPN, a fan has paid $31,845 on StubHub for four seats along the glass for Game 6 in Nashville.

That is … a lot of coin.

Outlandish prices for a ticket to a Stanley Cup Final game on sites like StubHub are nothing new. Per SB Nation, the maximum price for one ticket to Game 3 of the 2014 final between the New York Rangers and L.A. Kings at Madison Square Garden was going for just over $21,000. For Game 4 of that series, the price for one ticket topped out at more than $26,000.

It was reported just prior to the beginning of this series between the Penguins and Predators that there had been quite a disparity between ticket prices at online ticket websites for games in the respective markets.

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Online ticket marketplaces StubHub, SeatGeek, Ticket City and Vivid Seats show drastic price differences between Stanley Cup final games in Pittsburgh and Nashville, Tenn. As of midday Friday, the cheapest seat for Game 1 at PPG Paints Arena ranged from $199 to $290 across the four sites, while the cheapest ticket available for Game 3 at Bridgestone Arena ranged from $836 to $1,190.

In fact, as of Friday, it would be cheaper for a Predators fan to fly from Nashville (on a $609 round-trip flight) to Pittsburgh and buy a Game 1 ticket than it would be to see Game 3 at home — as long as they’re willing to sleep at the airport and load up on free peanuts.

And they talk about players willing to pay the price at playoff time.

Meanwhile, Game 5 goes Thursday in Pittsburgh. The series is tied 2-2.

Blackhawks sign prized Czech d-man Jan Rutta

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The Chicago Blackhawks have signed highly sought after free agent and Czech defenseman Jan Rutta.

The Blackhawks confirmed that it is a one-year deal.

Rutta was never drafted in the NHL, however, the 6-foot-3 tall blue liner had an impressive showing for the Czech Republic at the recent World Hockey Championship following a strong and productive season with Czech club Chomutov Pirati.

He had eight goals and 32 points in 46 games, finishing third on his team in scoring. So far, the team has not announced the deal.

“Jan has been on our radar for a number of years and he has shown great progress on the ice during that time,” said Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman. “His addition to the organization makes our defense more dynamic and he has shown he can contribute offensively as well.”

It was reported in late May that the Blackhawks had keen interest on Rutta, who will turn 27 years old in July.

“He looks like a late bloomer. He became a big player the last couple of years,” one scout told The Athletic. ” He’s a big guy, a right-handed shot who can skate for a big guy. He sees the ice well. He’s pretty good on the power play.”

There is also some coaching news out of Chicago.

Per Elliotte Friedman, Ulf Samuelsson is expected to join the Blackhawks as an assistant. The former NHL defenseman was head coach of the AHL Charlotte Checkers last season, with a record of 39-29-8. He also has nine years experience as an assistant/associate coach in the AHL and NHL, including five seasons with the Coyotes and three with the Rangers.