James O'Brien

Alex Galchenyuk, Derrick Pouliot

Habs, Pens broke in Quebec City’s Videotron Centre


It’s unclear if Quebec City’s Videotron Centre will eventually play host to an NHL team of its own – we may know more about that later on today, though not necessarily decisively – but fans enjoyed an appetizer on Monday.

The Montreal Canadiens “hosted” the Pittsburgh Penguins last night, and while they didn’t seem to enjoy much of a home-ice advantage, they won 4-1.

That’s not really the point, though. This was all about giving the arena a test-run, and provide the intriguing atmosphere of Montreal playing in Quebec as an added bonus.

Let’s take a look at different viewpoints from last night’s proceedings, including people mocking the name Videotron Centre (sadly without evoking “Tron” or “Videodrome”).

The building isn’t the only make-or-break factor for expansion, of course.

Las Vegas, Quebec City set to take step in NHL expansion bid

Gary Bettman, Bill Foley

Las Vegas and Quebec City are moving closer in their bids to land a NHL franchise.

A Bill Foley-led group and Montreal-based communications giant Quebecor are in the third and final stage of a process to potentially bring the world’s top hockey league to Las Vegas and Quebec City, respectively.

“They have been invited to make presentations to the Executive Committee on Tuesday,” NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly wrote in an email.

Later in the day, the committee will report to the NHL Board of Governors.

“Evaluation process will continue,” Daly wrote. “No defined timeline.”

Quebecor spokesman Martin Tremblay and Michelle Kersch, spokeswoman for Foley’s group, confirmed their groups will make a presentation.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said earlier this month the league is “not feeling any timeline pressure,” in the expansion process. Bettman has proposed an expansion fee of $500 million, a significant jump from the $80 million fee paid by the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild, when the NHL last expanded to 30 teams in 2000.

It is expected to take at least two years before the NHL would potentially have 32 teams playing.

The league has examined each market and both groups’ arena plans after they were the chosen two out of 16 expansion applicants. As part of the process, both groups submitted a $10 million down payment, $2 million of which was nonrefundable. An NHL franchise in Las Vegas would be the first for any of the major sports leagues in the city.

John Wawrow and Greg Beacham contributed to this report.

Follow Larry Lage at http://www.twitter.com/larrylage

Related on PHT: Quebec City goes under the microscope

Benn to get his feet wet for Stars on Tuesday

Jamie Benn

A lot is riding on new additions to the Dallas Stars, but ultimately, they go as far as Jamie Benn and other stalwarts can take them.

The reigning Art Ross Trophy winner is one of a handful of Stars who elected to undergo hip surgery during the off-season, so there’s some question about where he’ll be at.

The team might get an idea of his progress on Tuesday, as Benn (and fellow hip surgery recipient Ales Hemsky) will see some pre-season action against the St. Louis Blues.

That’s great news all-around, although head coach Lindy Ruff admits that he isn’t sure that Benn is fully healed.

“I think he is close. I think there is a comfort level where he is,” Ruff said. “100 percent? I don’t know. That’s putting a number on it, and it’s hard.”

Ruff stated that he’ll evaluate both players after Tuesday’s game to weigh the pros and cons of giving them more reps vs. more rest.

Flyers: Couturier (upper body) is day-to-day

Sean Couturier

It seems like Philadelphia Flyers center Sean Couturier is getting a little bruised and battered during the pre-season.

Most recently, the Flyers announced that Couturier is day-to-day with an upper-body injury on Monday.

That might not be the only thing that’s ailing the 22-year-old, as Flyers beat writers including CSNPhilly.com’s Tim Panaccio batted around the idea that the two-way forward may have also hurt his knee/lower body at some recent point:

NHL teams seem content with throwing up smoke screens about injuries more or less all year round now, so maybe the most useful thing to key on is “day-to-day.”

With the regular season rapidly approaching, Couturier’s health will be one of the Flyers’ issues to monitor.

Sens sign defenseman Fraser to a 1-year, 2-way contract

Mark Fraser, Shawn Thornton

OTTAWA (AP) The Ottawa Senators have signed defenseman Mark Fraser to a one-year, two-way contract.

The deal will carry an annual value of $800,000 in the NHL and $125,000 in the American Hockey League.

Fraser, 28, spent time with both the New Jersey Devils and the AHL’s Albany Devils last season, recording four assists and 55 penalty minutes in 34 games with New Jersey. The Ottawa native had three points (one goal) and 45 penalty minutes in 18 games with Albany.

Fraser will add depth to the blue line after the Senators suspended young defenseman Mikael Wikstrand for leaving training camp and returning to Sweden.

Drafted by New Jersey with a third-round pick (84th overall) in the 2005 draft, Fraser has played in 219 NHL games with the Devils, Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers.

Fraser appeared in two preseason games with Toronto on a professional tryout before being cut.