James O'Brien

Las Vegas

Quebec City, Vegas advance to final phase of NHL expansion process

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It appears as if both Las Vegas and Quebec City are going deep into the NHL expansion process.

Friday marked a big day in that regard, as Quebecor confirmed that they’re in “Phase III” while Puck Daddy’s Josh Cooper reports that Vegas accomplished the same task.

These reports are also backed up by TVA’s L.A. Lariviere.

It’s pretty much impossible to make “How many phases are there” type jokes – some prefer Austin Powers references, others might throw in “American Werewolf in London” – but the Associated Press indicates that this might be the final step.

A person familiar with the process told The Associated Press that the third stage involves the NHL reviewing the company’s business plan and revenue projections. If approved, the league would be in a position to award an expansion franchise as early as next month, the person added.

In case you skimmed that paragraph too quickly, let’s underline it: the league could award one or both cities an expansion franchise as early as September.

Wild stuff, right?

Related:

Post expansion, could NHL realign with eight divisions?

Bettman doesn’t think loonie’s decline will make expansion to Quebec City a problem

Poll: Is Therrien the right coach for Montreal?

Michel Therrien
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Gauging a Montreal Canadiens coach can be a tricky endeavor.

For one thing, you must consider the expectations that come inherent with being the bench boss of a franchise that has won a record 24 Stanley Cups.

It’s not about excellence alone, however, as management acknowledged years ago that their head coach probably needs to speak French.

“Although our main priority remains to win hockey games and to keep improving as a team, it is obvious that the ability for the head coach to express himself in both French and English will be a very important factor in the selection of the permanent head coach,” Team president Geoff Molson said in a statement back in 2011.

Some hoped that the Habs would part ways with Michel Therrien after the team’s second-round exit to the Tampa Bay Lightning, yet GM Marc Bergevin stood idle.

Back in April, The Montreal Gazette’s Jack Todd mocked those who yearn for a replacement:

Has the coach of a 110-point team that finished second overall in the league, a team coming off an Eastern Conference final, ever faced so much heat at home? Doubtful. There is a strange reluctance to embrace Therrien here, despite three consecutive outstanding seasons on his watch.

One might break down the arguments in three different ways:

1) Therrien is the best fit, period.

2) Therrien is the best fit considering Montreal’s Francophone requirements.

3) Therrien is not the best fit.

It’s not an especially new debate, yet it’s an intriguing one nonetheless: is Therrien the right guy for the job?

Habs’ biggest question: Scoring

Max Pacioretty, Pk Subban,
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Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin and head coach Michel Therrien seem pretty low-key about their team’s underwhelming offense.

Therrien: “We scored just eight fewer goals than the Chicago Blackhawks.”

Bergevin (paraphrasing): “Hey, the New York Rangers were winning a bunch of 2-1 games, so let’s keep doing what we’re doing.”

Yes, the NHL is a league where defense and goaltending are highly important facets of the game, but at what point does the balance go off?

There are plenty of warning signs that the Canadiens could face a severe dip if the current “Carey can handle it” plan falls through.

They’ve been a weak possession team. Spin goal totals whichever way you’d like, but the bottom line is that their 221 goals for tied the Pittsburgh Penguins for the least of any playoff team last season.

While the Penguins acquired in-his-prime polarizing sniper Phil Kessel this summer, the Canadiens didn’t do much beyond adding fading polarizing sniper Alexander Semin and polarizing pest Zach Kassian to the mix.

Yes, Max Pacioretty deserves the accolades heaped upon him from sources including Jonathan Quick. It’s true that P.K. Subban can lead the charge on offense to an often dazzling degree. Semin could regain his self-confidence and upstarts like Alex Galchenyuk could make significant strides in their game.

Still, Therrien is considered a taskmaster and defense first-second-and-third sort of coach, so it wouldn’t be prudent to expect him to implement changes that would drastically boost offense.

If goals come, it will be in some combination of better shooting luck, nice work from the likes of Semin and improvement from within.

When you take everything under consideration, it’s tough to shake the impression that Montreal is more or less asking Price to repeat his all-world work from 2014-15.

Captain, come back: Alfredsson reportedly closing in on job with Sens

Daniel Alfredsson Eugene Melnyk
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Some wounds were left behind with the way Daniel Alfredsson and the Ottawa Senators parted ways, but it sounds like they’ve healed quite quickly.

The team’s former captain is close to joining the Senators’ front office, TSN’s Ian Mendes reports.

The specifics are a little cloudy at the moment, as they’re nearing an agreement for Alfredsson “to accept a role in the club’s hockey operations department.”

Mendes notes that the two sides likely mended the fence when Alfredsson announced his retirement in Ottawa back in 2014:

But the door for Alfredsson’s return was opened in early December of 2014 when he officially announced his retirement from the NHL during an emotional ceremony in Ottawa. Following that event, the frostiness between Alfredsson and the organization melted away and the long-time captain was welcomed back into the fold.

With GM Bryan Murray set to retire after next season, this could be an interesting opportunity for Alfredsson. If nothing else, it’s an even clearer sign that the Senators are on good terms with their beloved former star.

Here’s the full NHL 2015 preseason schedule, starting Sept. 20

New York Islanders Blue & White Scrimmage
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In just under one month, the 2015 preseason will begin.

The league detailed its 15-day, 104-game slate in this press release.

Before PHT shares the full schedule, here are a few fun facts.

  • The New York Islanders will really get started in Brooklyn.
  • There will be neutral site games in North Saanich, B.C. (Canada’ Kraft Hockeyville game), Johnstown, Pa. (the first U.S. Kraft Hockeyville match) along with ones in Quebec City, Allentown, Pa., Bakersfield, Calif., Halifax, N.S., Las Vegas, Nev., Providence R.I., St. John’s, Nfld. and Saskatoon, Sask.

OK, with that out of the way, here’s your full preseason schedule. (In case you’re wondering, the regular season begins on Oct. 7.)

2015 NHL PRESEASON SCHEDULE (all times Eastern)

SUNDAY, SEPT. 20
Boston vs. New Jersey, at Providence, R.I. (Dunkin’ Donuts Center), 7 p.m.
Florida at Nashville (split-squad doubleheader), 4:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.

MONDAY, SEPT. 21
New Jersey at NY Rangers, 7 p.m.
Carolina at Washington, 7 p.m.
Pittsburgh at Columbus, 7 p.m.
Philadelphia (split squad) at NY Islanders (split squad), 7 p.m.
Philadelphia (split squad) vs. NY Islanders (split squad), at Allentown, Pa. (PPL Center), 7 p.m.
Ottawa (split squad) at Toronto (split squad), 7:30 p.m.
Toronto (split squad) at Ottawa (split squad), 7:30 p.m.
Buffalo at Minnesota, 8 p.m.
Calgary (split squad) at Edmonton (split squad), 9 p.m.
Edmonton (split squad) at Calgary (split squad), 9 p.m.
Arizona vs. Los Angeles, at Bakersfield, Calif. (Rabobank Arena), 10 p.m.
San Jose vs. Vancouver, at Victoria, B.C. (The Q Centre), 10:30 p.m.

TUESDAY, SEPT. 22
Washington at Boston, 7 p.m.
NY Rangers at Philadelphia, 7 p.m.
Carolina at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m.
St. Louis (split squad) at Columbus (split squad), 7 p.m.
Toronto at Montreal, 7:30 p.m.
Nashville at Tampa Bay, 7:30 p.m.
Dallas at Florida, 7:30 p.m.
Columbus (split squad) at St. Louis (split squad), 8 p.m.
Minnesota at Winnipeg, 8 p.m.
Detroit at Chicago, 8:30 p.m.
Anaheim at Colorado, 9 p.m.
San Jose at Vancouver, 10 p.m.
Arizona at Los Angeles, 10:30 p.m.

WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 23
Ottawa at Buffalo, 7 p.m.
New Jersey at NY Islanders, 7 p.m.
Chicago at Detroit, 7:30 p.m.
Tampa Bay at Nashville, 8 p.m.
Winnipeg at Edmonton, 9 p.m.

THURSDAY, SEPT. 24
NY Rangers at Boston, 7 p.m.
Minnesota at Columbus, 7 p.m.
Washington at Montreal, 7:30 p.m.
Pittsburgh at Detroit, 7:30 p.m.
Dallas at St. Louis, 8 p.m.
Calgary at Colorado, 9 p.m.

FRIDAY, SEPT. 25
NY Islanders (split squad) at New Jersey, 7 p.m.
NY Islanders (split squad) at Philadelphia, 7 p.m.
Buffalo at Toronto, 7:30 p.m.
Florida at Tampa Bay, 7:30 p.m.
Chicago at Montreal, 7:30 p.m.
Edmonton at Winnipeg, 8 p.m.
Vancouver at Calgary, 9 p.m.
Los Angeles at Anaheim, 10 p.m.
Arizona at San Jose, 10:30 p.m.

SATURDAY, SEPT. 26
Columbus at Pittsburgh, 4 p.m.
Carolina vs. NY Islanders, at Halifax, N.S. (Scotiabank Centre), 5 p.m.
Edmonton vs. Minnesota, at Saskatoon, Sask. (SaskTel Centre), 6 p.m.
Boston at Detroit, 7 p.m.
Buffalo at Ottawa, 7 p.m.
NY Rangers at New Jersey, 7 p.m.
Montreal at Toronto, 7:30 p.m.
Tampa Bay at Dallas, 8 p.m.
St. Louis at Chicago, 8:30 p.m.
Anaheim at San Jose, 9 p.m.
Calgary at Vancouver, 10 p.m.

SUNDAY, SEPT. 27
Carolina vs. Ottawa, at St. John’s, Nfld. (Mile One Centre), 3:30 p.m.
Winnipeg at Minnesota, 6 p.m.
Florida at Dallas, 8 p.m.
Los Angeles at Colorado, 8 p.m.

MONDAY, SEPT. 28
Detroit at Boston, 7 p.m.
Philadelphia at NY Rangers, 7 p.m.
Washington at NY Islanders, 7 p.m.
Montreal vs. Pittsburgh, at Quebec City, Que. (Videotron Centre), 7 p.m.
Arizona at Vancouver, 10 p.m.

TUESDAY, SEPT. 29
Pittsburgh vs. Tampa Bay, at Johnstown, Pa. (Cambria County War Memorial Arena), 7 p.m.
Toronto at Buffalo, 7 p.m.
Columbus at Nashville, 8 p.m.
Ottawa at Winnipeg, 8 p.m.
St. Louis at Dallas, 8:30 p.m.
Colorado at Calgary, 9 p.m.
Arizona at Edmonton, 9 p.m.
Anaheim at Los Angeles, 10:30 p.m.
Vancouver at San Jose, 10:30 p.m.

WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 30
Boston at NY Rangers, 7 p.m.
Washington at Carolina, 7 p.m.
New Jersey at Philadelphia, 7 p.m.
Detroit at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m.

THURSDAY, OCT. 1
Ottawa at Montreal, 7:30 p.m.
Dallas at Tampa Bay, 7:30 p.m.
Buffalo at Minnesota, 8 p.m.
Chicago at St. Louis, 8 p.m.
Calgary at Winnipeg, 8 p.m.
Vancouver at Edmonton, 9 p.m.
Colorado at Anaheim, 10 p.m.

FRIDAY, OCT. 2
Boston at Washington, 7 p.m.
Philadelphia at New Jersey, 7 p.m.
Columbus at Buffalo, 7 p.m.
Pittsburgh at Carolina, 7 p.m.
Toronto at Detroit, 7:30 p.m.
San Jose at Arizona, 10 p.m.

SATURDAY, OCT. 3
Montreal at Ottawa, 7 p.m.
Detroit at Toronto, 7 p.m.
Tampa Bay at Florida, 7 p.m.
Nashville at Columbus, 7 p.m.
Dallas at Chicago, 8:30 p.m.
Winnipeg at Calgary, 9 p.m.
San Jose at Anaheim, 9 p.m.
Edmonton at Vancouver, 10 p.m.
Colorado vs. Los Angeles, at Las Vegas, Nev. (MGM Grand Garden Arena), 10 p.m.

SUNDAY, OCT. 4
NY Islanders at Washington, 5 p.m.