Author: Jason Brough

2014 NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Championship - Semifinals

Reilly rules out Blue Jackets, who did ‘everything we could possibly do’


A couple of weeks ago, Mike Reilly said he was “still huge on Columbus.”

But apparently he was never “huge” enough to actually sign there. According to the Columbus Dispatch, the 21-year-old defenseman has ruled out inking a deal with the Blue Jackets.

From the newspaper:

Reilly’s agent, Pat Brisson, informed the Blue Jackets of the decision shortly after noon today.

“We did everything we could possibly do,” Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen told The Dispatch today. “From player development since we drafted him, to recruiting him — or whatever you would call it — over the last few months … it wasn’t enough.

The Jackets drafted Reilly 98th overall in 2011, before the Shattuck St. Mary’s product spent one year in the BCHL and three more at the University of Minnesota.

Reilly has reportedly narrowed his list to two or three teams. The Blackhawks and Wild are considered the favorites to sign the free agent.


Coyotes fire back at City of Glendale

Andrew Barroway

The war of words between the Arizona Coyotes and the City of Glendale shows no sign of a ceasefire.

In response to yesterday’s statement from the city that it won’t fight its legal case through the media, Coyotes president, CEO & co-owner Anthony LeBlanc (via FOX Sports Arizona’s Craig Morgan) had this to say:

“I think the only line that was missing in their statement was after they vowed they wouldn’t be negotiating via the media, they should have added: ‘Now let us attempt to negotiate via the media.’ Something about a pot and a kettle comes to mind.”

Frankly, all this sniping is not the best look for either side. But hey, it’s good for page views. So thanks, we suppose.

The Coyotes have expressed confidence that the city’s case to cancel its lease with the hockey club will not hold up in court.

The city, meanwhile, has maintained that important details of its argument have yet to be revealed to the public. Phoenix Business Journal has more on that, in case you somehow haven’t got your fill of this story.

Related: City of Glendale to move forward with plans to end Coyotes arena agreement

If the Avs trade O’Reilly, they need to hit a home run

Ryan O'Reilly

It’s not often that a talented 24-year-old center is expected to be traded. But that’s the case with Colorado’s Ryan O’Reilly, whose tenure with the Avalanche has been marked by contentious contract negotiations with the club.

Last summer, O’Reilly signed a two-year, $12 million deal that left the player a pending unrestricted free agent after 2015-16. If the Avs can’t re-sign him to an extension, they really have no other choice but to trade him, lest they lose him for nothing a la Paul Stastny.

Simply put, if the Avs do trade O’Reilly, they cannot afford to screw it up. Assuming Evgeni Malkin isn’t actually for sale, O’Reilly could well be the most valuable player on the offseason trade market. He’s three years younger than Toronto’s Phil Kessel, and centers are generally in higher demand than wingers.

What should be interesting to see is how much O’Reilly controls the process. After all, no team is going to pay a huge price to get a young player without some semblance of confidence that the player can be re-signed. (Remember when Garth Snow gambled on Thomas Vanek and lost?)

On top of that, there aren’t exactly a ton of teams with the assets to give the Avs what they need. Like, say, a good young defenseman.

So, for the Avs to trade O’Reilly, they’ll need to find a team that:

— Has confidence it can re-sign him;
— Has the cap space, both now and in the future;
— Has the right assets;
— Is willing to pay a big price.

Feel free to add your trade proposals in the comments section.

How ’bout a deal with the Leafs involving Jake Gardiner?

UFA of the Day: Martin St. Louis

New York Rangers v Pittsburgh Penguins - Game Four

Check PHT every day until June 30 for a new pending unrestricted free agent of the day. Today’s UFA of the Day is…

Martin St. Louis

For the record, St. Louis is pondering retirement. He turns 40 tomorrow, and when the Rangers were eliminated, he said he needed time to “reflect” before making a decision.

If he does decide to keep playing, there will be demand for his services. Perhaps not from the cap-challenged Rangers, but even as one of the NHL’s oldest players, the undersized forward managed to score 21 goals with 31 assists in 2014-15. He can still contribute.

Of course, the biggest factor may not be which teams are interested, but rather, where St. Louis is willing to play. When he famously (infamously, if you’re a Lightning fan) forced his way out of Tampa Bay, he said, “It’s not like I’ve played a ton of playoff hockey in the last little while, and as you get older you want to get more kicks at the can.”

So, if he does sign somewhere, will it need to be with a Stanley Cup contender? Because if it does, that may eliminate a team like New Jersey, which has been cited as a potential landing spot due to its proximity to New York.

It’s possible St. Louis got his fill of kicks at the can with the Rangers. But if he didn’t, and assuming he wants to stay in the New York area for family reasons, there’ll be a pretty good team in Brooklyn next season. Just to throw that out there.

Click here for more UFAs.

With three Stanley Cups in six years, let the ‘dynasty’ debate begin


CHICAGO — It’s hard to believe now, but in 2007, when John McDonough was named president of the Blackhawks, the franchise had devolved into an afterthought in the Windy City.

Monday at the United Center, right before Jonathan Toews hoisted the Stanley Cup for the third time in the last six years, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman proclaimed to the fans, “I’d say you have a dynasty.”

Funny what assembling a core of four future Hall of Famers — Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, and Marian Hossa — can do for a franchise’s fortunes.

Add secondary stars like Patrick Sharp, Brent Seabrook, and Niklas Hjalmarsson, get a good coach, a smart general manager, draft well, develop well, throw in a little luck, and the result is the first team worthy of the “dynasty” label in the salary-cap era.

“We’ve had to fight through some things, but it was worth every second of it,” said McDonough, speaking to reporters at center ice while the players and their young families celebrated around him.

source: Getty Images
Getty Images

“To see these guys mature into young adults, into grown men. Most of our guys when I started here were single. Now there’s babies all over the place.”

There will be those who question whether these Blackhawks are truly a dynasty. They haven’t won four straight Cups, like the Montreal Canadiens did from 1975-79, or the New York Islanders from 1980-83. They haven’t won five in seven years like the 1980s Oilers. Twice in the past six years Chicago has been eliminated in the first round.

When asked to weigh in on the dynasty debate, Kane replied, “I don’t know what that means. We’ve got three in six years. I know that’s pretty good.”

Similarly, general manager Stan Bowman deferred to others.

“I don’t think that’s really for me to say,” he said. “That’s really for other people to make those proclamations. All I know is that we’ve got an amazing group here, they’ve accomplished a lot together, and I’m really proud of the effort they’ve given year after year. It doesn’t always go your way, but they’ve accomplished quite a bit and we’re not finished.”

Bowman has another tough summer ahead. The Blackhawks won’t be back in their entirety next season. Some will be forced out due to the salary cap. That’s the “reality” of the situation, as Johnny Oduya put it. That reality is why the likes of Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien, Brian Campbell, Dave Bolland, Troy Brouwer, and Antti Niemi are playing elsewhere now.

“I think we’re going to enjoy this one for a bit,” said Bowman. “I’ve been thinking of that stuff for a long time. It’s not like it’s going to surprise me. We’ll make it work. We’ve got a plan in place. That’s really for another day. Right now we’re pretty thrilled with this whole scene in here.”

Fair enough.

A decade ago, the Blackhawks were playing games before a half-empty arena, an Original Six franchise ignored.

Monday, they kicked off one of the great sports celebrations in this city’s history.

They deserve to enjoy it.