Jason Brough

Detroit Red Wings center Dylan Larkin celebrates his goal against the New York Islanders in the third period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016 in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Larkin, Glendening, and Skjei added to U.S. world championship squad


The end of the playoffs for the Red Wings and Rangers meant some new additions to the United States squad that will compete in next month’s world championship in Russia.

Detroit forwards Dylan Larkin and Luke Glendening, along with New York defenseman Brady Skjei, have received and accepted the call.

They’ll join a roster that already included the likes of Auston Matthews, Kyle Connor, Noah Hanifin, and Thatcher Demko.

It’s another young team for the Americans. Matt Hendricks, 34, is the only player in his 30s.

The United States picked up a bronze in last year’s tournament, with a roster that featured college stars Larkin, Jack Eichel, Jimmy Vesey, Alex Lyon, and Mike Reilly.

Related: Demko added to U.S. squad

Milwaukee Bucks say ‘no plans for the NHL’ at new arena

A rendering of a proposed new Milwaukee Bucks arena is shown during a press conference Wednesday, April. 7, 2015, in Milwaukee.  (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

Milwaukee’s new arena for the NBA’s Bucks will be hockey-compatible, but don’t count on any big push to land an NHL franchise.

“There are no plans for the NHL,” Bucks spokesman Jake Suski told the Milwaukee Business Journal.

The basketball team will operate the new arena, which is slated to open in 2018. It’s expected that Bucks ownership will pursue hockey events like the NCAA’s Frozen Four and/or NHL exhibition games.

Of note, Milwaukee’s AHL team, the Admirals, will not be tenants in the new building; instead, they’ve signed a 10-year lease to play at UW–Milwaukee Panther Arena, starting next season.

Related: Hey, what about Milwaukee?

Avalanche sign Michigan star Compher

Michigan center JT Compher (7) shoots the puck in front of Minnesota's Jake Bischoff (28) during the third period of an NCAA college hockey game at the Yost Ice Arena, Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015, in Ann Arbor, Mich. (Junfu Han/The Ann Arbor News via AP) LOCAL TELEVISION OUT; LOCAL INTERNET OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT

Another big name is leaving the University of Michigan early. The Colorado Avalanche announced today that they’d signed 21-year-old winger J.T. Compher to a three-year, entry-level contract.

Compher was drafted 35th overall by the Sabres in 2013. He was dealt to Colorado last year as part of the Ryan O'Reilly trade.

It’s an important signing for the Avs. If Compher had returned to Michigan for his senior year, he could’ve pursued free agency next summer.

Meanwhile, it’s another significant loss for the Wolverines. Compher joins Kyle Connor, Zach Werenski, Michael Downing, and Tyler Motte on the list of Michigan stars who’ve left school early to go pro.

Comper, Connor and Motte were all among the 10 finalists for the 2016 Hobey Baker Award.

Related: Kyle Connor turns pro

An interesting offseason awaits the Rangers, who could be in some trouble


The New York Rangers are in a bit of a pickle, for the following reasons:

— Their current roster lasted just five games in this year’s playoffs, and didn’t deserve to last any longer. After being soundly defeated by the Pittsburgh Penguins, Henrik Lundqvist said, “I think we played a team that was smarter, better and had better goaltending.”

— A number of their key players are getting on the old side. Lundqvist is 34, while Dan Girardi, Rick Nash and Kevin Klein are all 31. Marc Staal will turn 30 in January.

Keith Yandle is an unrestricted free agent. If he re-signs, it won’t be cheap. If he doesn’t, he had 47 points this season, the fourth most on the team. Who replaces that? Who runs the power play? It won’t be Dan Boyle, because he’s probably going to retire.

— The Rangers don’t have a particularly deep group of prospects. In fact, Hockey Futures ranks them 27th out of 30.

— Nor do they have a first-round draft pick this summer. Which is nothing new. They haven’t had one since 2012. Hence, the dearth of blue-chip prospects.

According to the New York Post’s Larry Brooks, the “fallout from the Rangers’ first-round crash-and-burn elimination by the Penguins will be substantial but neither immediate nor of a knee-jerk variety.”

Brooks cites sources that tell him “there is belief from the top down — starting with CEO Jim Dolan — the club is in need of an overhaul in the form of a transfusion of new and younger blood pumped into the system.”

If true, how the Rangers accomplish that goal will be interesting to watch. They could try the trade route to add young talent, but then, what does GM Jeff Gorton really have to offer?

Would there be interest in Nash? He has two years remaining on his contract, at a cap hit of $7.8 million. He had 42 goals last year, but had just 15 in 60 games this year.

If not Nash, there’d be interest in the likes of Derek StepanDerick Brassard, and Mats Zuccarello. But then, those are the Rangers’ top three scorers.

Again, it’s a pickle. The Rangers have had some deep playoff runs the last few years. They’ve come close.

But when teams mortgage their future and trade away first-round picks, this is what happens. Eventually, the chickens come home to roost.

What if the Blues lose tonight?


Three years ago, they had a 2-0 lead over the Kings, then lost four straight and were eliminated.

Two years ago, they had a 2-0 lead over the Blackhawks, then lost four straight and were eliminated.

One year ago, they never had a 2-0 lead, but they did get eliminated by Minnesota, a good team, but not great.

Now consider what the St. Louis Blues are facing tonight at Scottrade Center. Not only the specter of a fourth consecutive first-round exit, but also another blown series lead.

This time, the Blues had the Blackhawks down 3-1, plus they had Game 5 at home. Then, after losing Game 5 in overtime, they had a two-goal lead in Game 6. They lost that, too.

Lose tonight and it’s hard to imagine there won’t be significant consequences for this franchise.

Certainly, the consequences will be more significant than last year, when GM Doug Armstrong decided to “live to fight another day” and come back with essentially the same core, minus T.J. Oshie and Barret Jackman.

Most notably, Armstrong retained head coach Ken Hitchcock.

“This is unfinished business for me,” Hitchcock said. “This is a really good team trying to become a great team. I think I have the tools and the expertise to help them along the way.”

Lose tonight and the Blues will have a new bench boss in 2016-17. That’s pretty much for sure.

“Hitch, this is it, man,” wrote the Post-Dispatch’s Benjamin Hochman. “For Kenneth Sanford Hitchcock, his legacy in St. Louis comes down to Monday night. … Lose Game 7 and you’re the coach who infamously had four consecutive first-round-series losses. Lose Game 7 and you’re the ex-coach.”

Lose Game 7 and there will be some ex-players, too.

David Backes is a 31-year-old pending unrestricted free agent; he could be allowed to walk this summer, regardless of what happens tonight.

Kevin Shattenkirk has one year left on his deal; a loss tonight will only intensify the speculation that he’ll be traded.

What of 31-year-old Brian Elliott? He’s only got a year left on his contract before he can go UFA. He was brilliant in Games 1-4, but less so in 5 and 6. What if it goes badly tonight? The Blues don’t exactly have a long, happy history of playoff goaltending.

Now, granted, there is another way all this could go.

The Blues could actually win.

They could exorcise the demons and catapult themselves into the second round, with the knowledge they just knocked off the defending champs, in a Game 7 that everyone was watching for them to lose, with all that pressure on their shoulders.

So, that’s what’s at stake tonight.

Whatever happens, it’s sure going to be something.