Cam Tucker

DALLAS, TX - MAY 01:  David Backes #42 of the St. Louis Blues walks off the ice after scoring the game winning goal against Antti Niemi #31 of the Dallas Stars in overtime in Game Two of the Western Conference Second Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at American Airlines Center on May 1, 2016 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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Blues and pending UFA Backes ‘haven’t been able to find that common ground’

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As a pending unrestricted free agent, the prospect of David Backes re-signing with the St. Louis Blues doesn’t seem too promising as July 1 approaches.

At the age of 32, Backes has played his entire NHL career so far in St. Louis. As the Blues’ captain, he scored 21 goals and 45 points in 79 games during the regular season and then added seven goals and 14 points in 20 playoff games, as St. Louis made it to the Western Conference Final.

When speaking about Backes in recent weeks, Blues GM Doug Armstrong has said re-signing the veteran forward is a priority, but doesn’t want a deal that may hamstring the organization down the road, and in a league where speed is becoming such a prized quality.

Backes is at the end of a five-year, $22.5 million contract. In conversation with Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Armstrong reiterated the organization would like to bring Backes back, but again, the deal has to fit for the organization as well as the player.

Backes is one of five pending UFAs with the Blues. Troy Brouwer, who is 30 years old and coming off the best post-season of his NHL career with 13 points in 20 games, also headlines that list.

Beep beep! Coyotes name AHL affiliate the Tucson Roadrunners

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Tucson’s American Hockey League franchise now has its name: The Roadrunners.

The announcement was made Saturday afternoon, more than a month after the AHL’s Board of Governors approved the sale of the Springfield Falcons to the Arizona Coyotes and Tucson City Council approved a 10-year lease agreement between the Coyotes and Tucson Convention Center.

“We are very proud to name our AHL affiliate the Tucson Roadrunners,” said Coyotes president and CEO Anthony LeBlanc in a statement.

“The Tucson Roadrunners will build on the great traditions of hockey in Arizona dating back to 1967. Roadrunners was the overwhelming fan favorite during our ‘Name the Team’ contest, and we thank the thousands of fans who helped us select a great name that creates a strong connection to the City of Tucson, reflects our state pride, and extends the reach of the Coyotes brand.”

Related: Naming a new pro sports franchise isn’t always easy

The Great One is heading Down Under to promote hockey

EDMONTON, AB - APRIL 6:  Former Edmonton Oilers forward Wayne Gretzky greets fans during the closing ceremonies at Rexall Place following the game between the Edmonton Oilers and the Vancouver Canucks on April 6, 2016 at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The game was the final game the Oilers played at Rexall Place before moving to Rogers Place next season. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)
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Having played an influential role popularizing hockey across America’s southwest, Wayne Gretzky is turning his attention to a new frontier.

The Great One’s heading Down Under.

He’s signed on to take part in the Wayne Gretzky Ice Hockey Classic. It involves a series of five exhibition games that began this weekend featuring current and recently retired NHL players, and minor leaguers.

Gretzky will play in a 4-on-4 game at Sydney on June 25. His objective is to increase hockey’s profile in Australia, and raise money for STOPCONCUSSIONS Foundation and Brain Injury Australia.

Gretzky is no stranger to serving as a hockey ambassador after helping the NHL make inroads in California, when he played in Los Angeles, and then in Arizona, when he co-owned and coached the Coyotes.

The idea to rename a street after Sidney Crosby is gaining momentum in his hometown

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Sidney Crosby now has two Stanley Cups, two Olympic gold medals and a Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. And now the idea to rename a street after Crosby in his hometown of Cole Harbour, N.S., is gaining further interest.

According to The Canadian Press, the idea originated from Crosby’s former minor hockey coach Paul Mason, who suggested in the article the name Sidney Crosby Parkway as one idea.

From The Canadian Press:

Lorelei Nicoll, the councillor for Cole Harbour, said Tuesday that she will put forward a motion to look into naming a street after Crosby. Wearing a T-shirt bearing both Crosby’s and the community’s name — along with Cole Harbour’s other famous hockey progeny, Nathan MacKinnon — Nicoll said she would ask for a staff report on a possible renaming.

“Cole Harbour’s very proud,” she said during a city council meeting. “So I ask for council support when that comes up.”

The process could be stymied by administrative orders in Halifax Regional Municipality that suggest renaming a street could only be done when the person being honoured is retired or has fulfilled “25 years or more of volunteer service.” Nicoll said she would see if council would consider making an exception.

During these playoffs, Crosby was a force for the Penguins in their second Stanley Cup championship since his highly anticipated first overall draft selection in 2005. He wasn’t their leading scorer during the post-season, but he led by example, determined for victory.

“[Crosby’s] the consummate leader,” said Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan after his team won the Stanley Cup. “He took this team, and this team evolved because of his leadership.”

Marleau’s future with Sharks once again up for discussion

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 29: Patrick Marleau #12 of the San Jose Sharks addresses the media during the NHL Stanley Cup Final Media Day at Consol Energy Center on May 29, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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In November, Patrick Marleau‘s name was brought up in trade speculation. He would’ve reportedly accepted trades to three teams: Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers.

By June, he was still with the San Jose Sharks competing for the Stanley Cup. Ultimately, they fell short of the championship after a six-game series with the Pittsburgh Penguins, who were simply dominant at times in the final.

Marleau has spent his entire career in San Jose — 1,411 regular season games and 1,036 points. In his 18 seasons, he had been through the worst and the best with that franchise, from a historical playoff collapse to making the final for the first time in Sharks’ history.

After being mentioned in trade talk earlier in the season and with the off-season now here, Marleau faced questions once again about his future in San Jose.

From CSN Bay Area:

“Yeah, I have a contract for next year, so looking forward to it,” Marleau said.

Is it his first choice to be a Shark? “Yeah.”

It was concise – not atypical for Marleau – but still not overly convincing.

There were signs throughout the postseason, too, that perhaps Marleau and DeBoer weren’t exactly seeing eye-to-eye. During the Kings series, DeBoer suggested that he and Marleau didn’t always agree on his role. In the Western Conference Final, the coach responded to a question about how he decides whether to play Marleau as the third line center or second line wing.

At the age of 36, Marleau has one more year remaining on his contract, as he indicated. It comes with a cap hit of $6,666,666 and a no-movement clause. 

He scored 25 goals and 48 points in the regular season and 13 points in 24 playoff games.

Related: Trade talk: Preds aren’t done shopping, latest on Marleau, Drouin