Jason Brough

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Coyotes accuse newspaper of making up story about arena tour

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The Arizona Coyotes released a strong statement today, reaffirming their commitment to their market while accusing the Glendale Star newspaper of making up a story.

“Recent reports by the Glendale Star that the Coyotes ownership group has explored arena options outside the Arizona market are completely false,” said team president and CEO Anthony LeBlanc. “The Star referenced an anonymous arena source and an anonymous Coyotes source, and these are a fabrication.

“The Coyotes are focused on creating one of the most taxpayer friendly facilities in the country here in the Valley. This new arena will pay for itself, create jobs and generate millions of dollars of revenue for the state, county and municipality where it’s built. We are fully committed to Arizona.”

The Star reported that representatives of the Coyotes had toured arenas in Seattle and Portland in the past three months.

The report came just days after the Coyotes’ plans to build a new arena in Tempe fell through.

LeBlanc told Arizona Sports earlier this week that the team has since renewed talks with other potential arena sites in the Valley.

“When we made the decision to go with the Tempe site in the fall, it was just that, a decision made by the Coyotes,” LeBlanc said. “Admittedly, we felt it was the best site and best path, but it isn’t the only path. We are re-engaging with other potential sites, and that process began in earnest [Friday] evening.”

Related: So… what do the Coyotes do now?

Babcock goes back to Andersen, who ‘hasn’t been good enough’ lately

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Frederik Andersen has endured a nightmarish start to the month, allowing a whopping 16 goals in just three games for the Toronto Maple Leafs. And if we’re being honest, it’s actually been four rough outings in a row for the 27-year-old Dane; he got yanked in his last start of January.

This morning, head coach Mike Babcock stated the obvious, telling reporters that the goalie’s game “hasn’t been good enough” lately. Andersen will get the start tonight against the visitors from St. Louis, an opportunity to work through whatever issues he’s been having.

It hasn’t been all Andersen’s fault. After his last start, a 6-5 OT loss to the Islanders on Monday, it was the team’s defensive coverage that got the blame.

“For me, to give up free ones, just tap-ins by our net, is not good enough. We’ve got to get that fixed in a hurry,” said Babcock. “You can’t give up a 3-on-1 in overtime, you can’t be on the wrong side of people when they’re shooting on your net. We’ve got to do a better job.”

Toronto’s backup, Curtis McElhinney, started Tuesday against Dallas. He was excellent, stopping 39 of 40 shots in a 3-1 victory. But the Leafs were also “way harder around our net and in our zone,” according to Babcock.

Though some naturally wondered if McElhinney deserved a follow-up start, Andersen is still the No. 1. So tonight, he’ll get a chance to put his struggles behind him, while at the same time the Leafs will try to have a better game in front of him.

Wild send Alex Tuch back to AHL

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After three game and no points, Alex Tuch is headed back to the AHL. The Minnesota Wild reassigned the 20-year-old winger to Iowa this morning.

Tuch made his NHL debut Saturday in Vancouver, logging 14:39 of ice time and registering two shots in a 6-3 win.

Afterwards, head coach Bruce Boudreau was asked about Tuch’s performance.

“I thought it was okay,” said Boudreau. “I mean, he had some chances to score. He’s a big, strong guy. Obviously, there are things he’s going to have to learn about this league, but everybody who ever came into this league had to learn those things.”

Tuch played two more games after that, including last night’s 4-3 overtime loss to Chicago.

The Wild’s next game is Friday at home to Tampa Bay.

 

Report: Coyotes toured arenas in Seattle and Portland

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The Arizona Coyotes are denying it, but according to the Glendale Star newspaper, representatives of the team have toured arenas in Seattle and Portland in the past three months.

“The destinations appear to have been the KeyArena in Seattle and the Moda Center in Portland, Ore,” the Star writes, citing officials in Seattle and Portland.

The report comes just days after the Coyotes’ plans to build a new arena in Tempe fell through, and though the team has publicly committed to remaining in Arizona, it won’t quell the speculation that the club could be on the move.

“Unfortunately, it appears the ASU deal will not being moving forward,” said Coyotes president and CEO Anthony LeBlanc. “We will continue to explore other options that will ensure a successful future for the team and our fans. We’re a determined bunch — on the ice and off the ice. We intend to do everything we can to keep NHL hockey here in Arizona.”

Seattle and Portland have long been rumored as potential landing spots for the Coyotes, and the NHL has made no secret its interest in putting a team in the Pacific Northwest.

Though Seattle does not yet have a suitable arena, the city is exploring a renovation of KeyArena, the old home of the NBA’s SuperSonics. There is also a competing bid to build an arena in the SoDo part of town.

Portland does have a suitable arena, the Moda Center being home to the NBA’s Trail Blazers. Back in 2013, there was reportedly “serious” interest in bringing the Coyotes to Oregon.

Related: Bettman rejects notion that the NHL is waiting for Seattle

Pre-game reading: Beantown columnists put the boots to the B’s

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— Up top, Mike Milbury and Keith Jones delve into the dismissal of Claude Julien, as well as the general state of the Bruins.

— Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy ripped into the B’s for firing Julien on the same day the New England Patriots celebrated their Super Bowl victory. Shaughnessy writes: “Do the Bruins think we are stupid? Did owners Jeremy and Charlie Jacobs, and hockey bosses Cam Neely and Don Sweeney, think nobody was going to notice if they axed the coach during the parade? … The Bruins held their coach-firing news conference Tuesday at 11:30 a.m., minutes after the Duck Boats started rolling up Boylston Street. NESN, the Bruins’ team-owned flagship station, televised the Patriots parade while the team was firing its Stanley Cup-winning coach.” For the record, Sweeney blamed the schedule for the timing. (Boston Globe)

— More criticism of Bruins management from Mike Loftus of The Patriot Ledger, but this is about the roster that Julien was forced to coach. “With all due respect to players like Riley Nash, Tim Schaller, Dominic Moore – players acquired last off-season, after being deemed expendable by other teams – and Jimmy Hayes and Matt Beleskey, who were among those added in the summer of 2015, they’re role players, and rarely difference-makers. Some are the sorts who can plug holes on an established, contending team, but the Bruins have been slipping from that designation for years. And they’ve been losing that status because too many role players have been added while better, more established players – some dispatched by Peter Chiarelli, Sweeney’s predecessor and mentor, and some by Sweeney himself – have been subtracted.” (The Patriot Ledger)

Read more: Sweeney says Bruins’ core deserves chance to ‘win now’

— It’s not quite time for Canadiens fans to panic, writes Stu Cowan of the Montreal Gazette. But the way things are looking down the middle, there’s definitely reason for concern. “Phillip Danault, who moved into the No. 1 spot after Alex Galchenyuk went down with a knee injury, has one goal in his last 12 games. Tomas Plekanec has one goal in his last 11. David Desharnais, who missed 24 games with a knee injury, has one goal in his last 12 games and fourth-line center Torrey Mitchell hasn’t scored in 27 games and has only two goals in his last 44, both in the same game Dec. 8 against New Jersey.” For more on this topic, see: Martin Hanzal trade rumors. (Montreal Gazette)

— Pierre LeBrun wonders if the Dallas Stars, as their playoff hopes keep fading, will start selling their pending free agents soon. “Topping the list would be cagey veteran Patrick Sharp, whose Stanley Cup experience and creative hands could help any contender. … Forward Patrick Eaves, another pending UFA, is a smart player who can play up and down on forward lines and help a second-unit power play, so he would be a useful addition to a contender.” (TSN)

— Elliotte Friedman published his must-read “30 Thoughts” yesterday, and he included this tidbit on the 2018 Winter Olympics, which may or may not include NHLers. “For the 2018 Olympic hockey tournament, Canada and the USA are in different pools. Local game times are noon, 4:30 p.m., and 9 p.m. That’s 10 p.m., 2:30 a.m. and 7 a.m. Eastern time. It is expected that the Canadians and Americans will never be scheduled for that 2:30 a.m. (ET) game. It is hoped that will alleviate one of the NHL’s concerns, that the two marquee North American teams will never play in the middle of the night for this continent’s viewers.” (Sportsnet)

Enjoy the game!