Jason Brough

Nationals Park, Washington Capitals, Chicago Blackhawks
AP

NHL hires big-time producer to ‘help bring to life a number of major events’

The NHL has hired longtime producer Steve Mayer and given him the title of Executive Vice President and Executive Producer, Programming & Creative Development.

Mayer joins the league from IMG Productions, where according to his bio he was “the producer of network variety specials like the Miss Universe (USA), NBA All-Star All-Style (TNT), Hall of Game Awards (Cartoon Network), Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular (CBS), Super Bowl’s Greatest Commercials (CBS), Tony Awards Preview Show (CBS), World’s and Year’s Funniest Commercials (TBS) and Christmas at Rockefeller Center (NBC),” among other shows.

“I am thrilled by the opportunity to join the NHL and help bring to life a number of major events for fans across North America,” Mayer said in a statement.

The press release doesn’t say specifically which events Mayer will “help bring to life” for the NHL, but the timing of the hiring is interesting in that it coincides with last month’s departure of COO John Collins.

Collins, of course, was one of the driving forces behind the creation of the Winter Classic. While Mayer may have a different job title, it stands to reason that some of Collins’ former responsibilities will now be Mayer’s.

Mayer has won nine Emmys and been nominated 23 times, per his bio.

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    In search of new arena, Coyotes are in ‘very progressed talks with the city of Phoenix’

    AP
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    Just over a month ago, things were “moving pretty quickly” in the Arizona Coyotes’ search for a new home in the Phoenix area.

    We can upgrade the status to “very progressed.”

    “We’re in very progressed talks with the city of Phoenix and as well we forged a tight alliance with Arizona State University and we’re having discussions with them about the potential for a facility,” Coyotes co-owner and president Anthony Leblanc told NHL.com.

    “We’re exploring those pretty aggressively.”

    The Coyotes don’t have much time to dither. Their lease in Glendale expires after next season. Even if they can extend it a year or two, Gila River Arena doesn’t seem to be a long-term option anymore.

    That may be a blessing in disguise.

    “People tend to forget that when this team played in what was then America West Arena, the games were almost always sold out, there was an incredible vibe in the building,” Leblanc said.

    In fact, people never did really forget that. There were myriad pessimists when the club announced it was moving to Glendale, a sleepy suburb with cheap land and expensive dreams. And the more the team struggled financially in its new home, the more those pessimists crowed.

    Why else, according to Leblanc, has there been such a “strong voicing from our fanbase and from our sponsors that if we had an opportunity they’d really like to see us back in downtown Phoenix or in the east side of the Valley”?

    It’s because the best place for the Coyotes has always been downtown. Or, if not there, the East Valley, which includes the ASU campus and also the city of Scottsdale, where wealthy tourists (including many Canadians) flock to during the hockey season.

    The key now is getting a deal done.

    And this time, make it the right deal.

    Related: Coyotes hire consultant to ‘explore arena options in the Valley’

    Panthers co-owner does not care for critical newspaper column

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    Florida Panthers co-owner Doug Cifu (@Dougielarge) took to Twitter today in response to a newspaper column that criticized his team’s potential deal with Broward County.

    The column by Michael Mayo in the Sun Sentinel started like this:

    The Florida Panthers are back with helmets in hand, looking for another handout from Broward County to help their struggling finances and shore up their future at the county-owned hockey arena in Sunrise.

    County commissioners will vote Tuesday on the $86 million aid package.

    Their choices are bad and worse: Dole out corporate welfare to help billionaire owners and millionaire athletes, or perhaps lose an anchor tenant at an arena that still has more than a decade of bond repayments left.

    And it ended like this:

    Considering the worsening impact of tidal flooding and sea rise along the coast, it also might be time to explore using hotel-room taxes for that situation.

    Somehow, a hockey team on thin ice takes higher priority than a potential crisis that could dampen tourism and swamp us all.

    That last part is what seemed to draw Cifu’s ire.

    cifu

    We’ll have more on all this tomorrow after the big vote. The Sun Sentinel wrote last week that the deal “could pass by a slim margin,” but Broward Mayor Marty Kiar expects it to be close.

    Related: About this reported deal that’s going to keep the Panthers in South Florida

    From afterthought to No. 1– Nilsson getting it done for Oilers

    Anders Nilsson, Eric Gryba, Matt Hendricks
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    Ah, the unpredictability of goaltending. Every day it seems there’s a new story that proves how hard it can be to forecast the most important position in hockey.

    Take the case of Anders Nilsson.

    At the beginning of the season, the 25-year-old former Islander was more of an afterthought in Edmonton. He was the guy who came to camp after spending last year in the KHL. It was supposed to be Cam Talbot who was going to give the Oilers some much-needed stability between the pipes. And if it wasn’t Talbot, hey, maybe Ben Scrivens could bounce back.

    But Talbot hasn’t been the answer. In fact, he’s got the lowest save percentage (.889) in the NHL among goalies that have started at least 10 games.

    Scrivens? He’s not even in the NHL anymore.

    Nilsson, meanwhile, has won three straight starts and has a .957 save percentage in December. His overall save rate has climbed to .922.

    So, of course the question is being asked — is Nilsson the long-term answer for the Oilers?

    Wisely, he’s not going there.

    “I’m trying not to get ahead of myself,” Nilsson told the Edmonton Sun. “I’m trying not to look back as much. I’m trying to live in the present moment all the time. I feel that helps me to get focused and stay focused.”

    Nilsson is a pending restricted free agent. His current cap hit is $1 million.

    Hurricanes president denies team could move to Quebec

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    The Carolina Hurricanes are for sale.

    The Carolina Hurricanes are also dead last in NHL attendance.

    Combined those two facts with a new arena in Quebec City, and what do you get?

    Relocation rumors, of course.

    Hurricanes president Don Waddell would like to put an end to those rumors.

    “We heard all of that stuff too,” Waddell told La Presse (quotes have been translated). “One day, I heard that I was on a private jet heading to Quebec. I went to everyone in the office that day and told them, ‘Hey, it looks like I’m in Quebec!'”

    Waddell guaranteed that he and owner Peter Karmanos Jr. never went to Quebec. Because why would they? The Hurricanes have a lease at PNC Arena that runs through 2024.

    “Our lease is a public document that everyone has access to,” he said. “Try to find a way out of it and when you do, call Pete and tell him how.”

    Still, don’t expect these relocation rumors to die down — whether they involve the Hurricanes, Panthers, Coyotes, or whoever — because there’s good reason to believe Quebec City won’t be granted an expansion team anytime soon.

    “I’m not sure I’m in favor of expansion,” said Waddell. “I share the same opinion as our owner, in that I think our current teams all need to be healthy and in a good place. If that’s the case, then we can talk expansion.”

    Karmanos, by the way, is a member of the committee that’s in charge of recommending, or not recommending, expansion.

    Related: Bettman says no need to worry that ‘Canes will move