Jason Brough

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ECHL team moving from Alaska to Portland (Maine)

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PORTLAND, Maine (AP) Professional hockey is returning to Maine’s largest city, with the relocation of an Eastern Coast Hockey League franchise from Alaska.

Comcast Spectacor, which owns the Philadelphia Flyers, announced Thursday the purchase of the Alaska Aces franchise. It will assume a new name and play 36 home games at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland.

The Portland Press Herald reports that the Flyers will run all business and hockey operations, with Danny Briere, a former Flyers player, overseeing day-to-day operations.

Flyers president Paul Holmgren said the outfit is “excited to re-ignite the hockey tradition in Portland.”

Portland has been without minor league hockey since the Portland Pirates of the American Hockey League were sold in May 2016 and moved to Springfield, Massachusetts.

Sabres hire Housley as head coach

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Phil Housley is the new head coach of the Buffalo Sabres.

TSN’s Darren Dreger was first to report the hiring. The team made it official moments later.

“Based on his experience as a player and coach, we think Phil is uniquely qualified to be our head coach and to help us achieve our organizational goals,” said Sabres GM Jason Botterill in a statement. “His approach to the game aligns with the way we envision our hockey team playing and we’re excited to see where his leadership will take us in the future.”

Housley will leave the Predators organization where he’s been an assistant coach the past four years. He was expected to depart for either Buffalo or Florida.

“With Phil, I just think his impact hasn’t just helped me, but it’s helped everybody on our team, defense and forwards,” Preds d-man P.K. Subban told the Toronto Star during the Stanley Cup Final. “Specifically with the defensemen, working with them every day, Howie has a wealth of knowledge, being one of the best defensemen to ever play the game. His numbers, his career, what he’s accomplished speaks for itself.”

Housley, a former Buffalo d-man, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2015.

He replaces Dan Bylsma, and will be expected to return a sense of order to the Sabres, among other things.

“Making sure the players understand the head coach is in control” is how Botterill put it last month.

Doughty explains why he’d be hesitant to sign with Maple Leafs

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Drew Doughty has already lost some of the anonymity he used to enjoy in Los Angeles.

In 2014, after the Kings made it to their second Stanley Cup Final in three years, the All-Star defenseman said things had changed “drastically” for him and his teammates.

“I don’t know if I like it better or not,” Doughty said. “I for sure don’t like it better, actually. We’ll go out for dinner – the beards we all have don’t help – but back in the day we could just pretty much roll in anywhere, and there’s no way anyone would know who you were, no possible way. And now it seems like everywhere we do go, we are getting recognized. It’s kind of more like a Canada, when you’re back in home in Canada.”

We bring that quote up today because Doughty can become an unrestricted free agent in two years, and Toronto Maple Leafs fans would sure love to see him wearing blue and white.

So, would the London, Ontario, native ever consider playing for the Leafs?

“I think all of us Southern Ontario players, we secretly want to play for the Leafs, you know, we all have that kind of soft spot,” Doughty told TSN 1050 radio in Toronto. “So yeah, we’d all want to play here, especially with the team, the way they’re getting better.”

But?

“I think it always comes down to how hard it would be to live in a city, being that big of a celebrity,” he added. “I’m spoiled in L.A. where I walk anywhere I want and not one person’s going to recognize me. If, say, for some reason I did play for the Leafs, I don’t know if I could get used to that. I think that’s the problem why guys don’t sign here.”

Doughty can sign an extension with the Kings next summer. The 27-year-old can sign anywhere he wants on July 1, 2019.

For the record, Doughty doesn’t have a no-trade clause, so if he were dealt to the Leafs, he’d have to play for them.

Related: After locking up Zaitsev, Leafs hoping to ‘add’ to defense

Former minority owner unsure Coyotes will get new arena

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Keith McCullough was one of the minority owners of the Arizona Coyotes that just got bought out by Andrew Barroway.

Now that he’s no longer an owner, McCullough was asked by Thunder Bay Newswatch if he thinks the Coyotes can survive in their current market.

“I don’t know. That’s the answer,” McCullough said. “I don’t know because I don’t know if they’re going to get a new arena. If they do not, it will probably remain as it has for a long time.”

That’s hardly the optimistic tone that the NHL has set when asked about the team’s future in the desert.

Just a few weeks ago, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said, “We’re confident there are a lot of good arena opportunities available to them there.”

And when Barroway became the sole owner, Daly added, “The reorganization is an effort to consolidate and strengthen the ownership and to resolve various disputes among the existing owners. We believe this will better position the Club to achieve a long-term solution in the Valley.”

Barroway has not answered questions since becoming sole owner. Perhaps he has a plan that he’s keeping to himself.

But until such a plan becomes public, the speculation about the Coyotes’ future will continue.

Related: So… what do the Coyotes do now?

Isles announce preseason game at Nassau Coliseum

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The New York Islanders are going back to their old home, but only for a preseason game.

The Isles announced today that their 2017-18 preseason schedule will kick off Sept. 17 with a game against the Flyers at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

It will be the first time the Isles have played there since Apr. 25, 2015, when they forced a Game 7 versus the Washington Capitals.

Nassau Coliseum has since been renovated by the same group that owns their current home, Barclays Center, in Brooklyn.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has downplayed the possibility of the Isles one day returning full-time to Nassau Coliseum.

There are only 13,900 fixed seats at the renovated rink.

Related: Bettman confirms two options for ‘more hockey friendly’ home for Isles