Author: Jason Brough

Portland Trail Blazers v Phoenix Suns

Back downtown? Phoenix mayor reaches out to Coyotes


Calling himself not just the mayor of Phoenix, but a leader for the “entire region,” Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton is vowing to do what he can to keep the Coyotes from relocating out of the metropolitan area.

“It’s really important that this team, the Coyotes, stay in our valley,” Stanton told Arizona Sports 98.7 FM today (audio). “We are lucky to have an NHL franchise in the Valley of the Sun.”

While Stanton has said that he’s hopeful the team can work out its issues with the City of Glendale, if that’s not possible, he’s willing to help broker a return to its old downtown home, now called Talking Stick Resort Arena.

“It would be only smart of them to pursue all other opportunities,” Stanton said of the Coyotes.

The City of Phoenix owns Talking Stick Resort Arena, where the Coyotes played from 1996-2003 before moving to Glendale. The arena’s longtime tenants are the NBA’s Phoenix Suns.

Stanton said today that, in the wake of Wednesday’s vote, he reached out to both the Coyotes and Suns and that “both sides want to engage in conversations.”

Perhaps more importantly, Stanton also confirmed that he’s engaged in “preliminary conversations” with the Suns about building a new downtown arena.

“I’m sure those conversations are going to continue and enter a more earnest period over the next few months,” he said.

The Coyotes as potential co-tenants in a new downtown arena obviously brings a whole new factor into that equation.

Now, while many believe the Coyotes would be better off downtown, it’s worth remembering that it’s highly unlikely they’d be able to negotiate the kind of deal with the City of Phoenix to play in a new arena that they were able to get (until it was canceled) with the City of Glendale to play at Gila River Arena.

Would a move downtown offset what amounted to a public subsidy to play in Glendale?

Just one of the many questions that remains unanswered.

Benning confident Canucks can ‘get a fairly high draft pick’ for Lack or Markstrom

Philadelphia Flyers v Vancouver Canucks

Jim Benning has had “lots of calls” about his goalies and is “confident” the Canucks “can get a fairly high draft pick” for one of Eddie Lack or Jacob Markstrom.

Vancouver’s general manager made those remarks last night on TSN 1040 radio, per Today’s Slapshot.

“When we decide which goalie we’re going to keep moving forward, then we’ll act on it and I think we’ll be able to recover a fairly high pick,” said Benning.

The Canucks don’t currently have a second- or third-round draft pick in this year’s draft.

Benning said he’d “like to add a second-round pick, if we could.”

Related: Need a goalie? No shortage of options out there

Brandon Saad is ‘just out for a Sunday stroll,’ scoring big goal after big goal

2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Four

CHICAGO — If Monday was the night to heap praise on Victor Hedman, tonight was the night to celebrate another young star: Blackhawks forward Brandon Saad.

Saad scored the winning goal in Chicago’s 2-1 victory over the Lightning, giving the ‘Hawks the goal they so badly needed to even the Stanley Cup Final at two games apiece.

The play was Saad at his best, as the 22-year-old grabbed a loose puck off a faceoff, drove down below the goal line, then hard across the front of the net, ultimately slipping a backhand through the legs of Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.

It wasn’t the first time these playoffs we’ve seen that kind of burst…

Veteran forward Brad Richards spoke glowingly of Saad’s skating ability.

“It looks like he’s just out for a Sunday stroll sometimes,” said Richards. “He’s three strides and he’s beating people down the ice. He takes it to the net there because he’s so big and strong. It’s a good asset to have on your team.”

Added Patrick Sharp: “He’s a fun player to watch. He takes the puck, tells everybody what he’s going to do with it and bulls people over and gets to that net either way.”source: Getty Images

And just for good measure, here’s coach Joel Quenneville: “He’s fast, he’s big, he’s strong, he’s dangerous.”

Watching Saad during these playoffs, it’s no wonder there’s been speculation he could be an offer-sheet target this offseason.

But that’s a problem for later. For now, the ‘Hawks are only happy to see the Pittsburgh native scoring big goal after big goal, even if he is adding to his bargaining power in the process.

“He was good at the start of the season, but a different level right now,” said Richards. “As you go deep into the playoffs, a lot of players have to get to different levels, and he’s done that for us.

“He’s been better than you could ever hope for.”

Related:  ‘I think those young legs really help’