Jason Brough

AP

Prospective Seattle NHL owner was willing to explore KeyArena option: report

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Victor Coleman is a rich guy who wants to own an NHL team in Seattle.

His problem? An arena to put the team.

To solve that problem, Coleman originally partnered with Chris Hansen, a hedge fund manager who wants to own an NBA team in Seattle. Hansen struck a deal with the city and county to get $200 million in public financing to build an arena in the Sodo District; however, it was dependent on him landing an NBA team. That deal doesn’t expire until November of 2017, almost two years from now. The city recently pledged to honor the deal and says it won’t entertain any other arena options until it expires, even though the chances of Hansen landing an NBA team before then seem slim.

For hockey fans in Seattle, that’s gotta be frustrating to have things tied up like that. Because guess what? It turns out that a renovated KeyArena might, despite what was previously assumed, be suitable for an NHL team. And based on an email that Coleman’s representative, Jeff Marks, wrote to the city on August 24, Coleman was willing to explore that option.

“Our team wanted to follow up now that summer is behind us and our team is looking forward to hearing any updates around the Key Arena site,” Marks wrote, according to King 5 News. “We had a good call with Bob at AEG and we are ready to move forward with this option, if viable.”

We’ll assume that “Bob at AEG” is Bob Newman, President, AEG Facilities. Since 2008, after the SuperSonics left for Oklahoma City, AEG Facilities has been helping market KeyArena.

Meanwhile, the NHL has been kicking the can down the road with regards to expansion bids from Las Vegas and Quebec City.

Some have wondered if the league has been stalling to see if Seattle can come up with a solution.

From King 5:

Marks says Coleman is still interested in working out a deal in Seattle, preferably with Hansen, “beyond our previous non-binding agreement.”

The NHL Board of Governors meets next week in Pebble Beach.

Related: Pacific Northwest will ‘get serious consideration’ for expansion or relocation

Still seeking ‘the coach’s trust,’ Mueller sent back to AHL

Mirco Mueller, Joe Vitale

Mirco Mueller is headed back to the AHL. The San Jose Sharks assigned him to the Barracuda today.

Mueller, the 18th overall pick in the 2013 draft, is still seeking the trust of coach Pete DeBoer.

Only natural for a 20-year-old defenseman.

“Until you establish yourself, until you get the coach’s trust, it’s hard to get the benefit of the doubt. That’s what all young players battle,” DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “In order to get that benefit of the doubt you’ve got to string together eight or 10 really good games. That’s just the reality of it. That’s what all these guys have done at some point in their career in order to get themselves established.”

Mueller is still young, so there’s no need to panic that he may not pan out. Not yet, anyway.

“Whether he becomes a full-time valuable NHL player at Christmas or whether it’s next year at Christmas, this is all part of it,” DeBoer told the Mercury News.

Still, DeBoer is hopeful that somebody beyond the top five of Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Justin Braun, Paul Martin, Brent Burns, and Brenden Dillon can step up and be trusted in that sixth spot.

If neither Mueller nor Matt Tennyson can do that, and assuming the Sharks are in or around a playoff spot by the trade deadline, don’t be surprised if Doug Wilson is among the many GMs that tries to add a depth blue-liner sometime before March.

Malhotra signs AHL tryout with Lake Erie

Manny Malhotra Jonathan Bernier
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Manny Malhotra is getting another chance to show he can still play. The 35-year-old center has agreed to a tryout with the Blue Jackets’ AHL affiliate, the Lake Erie Monsters.

“Manny is a high character player who has a lot of experience having played nearly 1,000 games over his 16-year NHL career,” said Blue Jackets assistant GM/Monsters GM Bill Zito in a release. “We are happy to have signed him to a tryout contract and believe he will provide great leadership and contribute to our club both on and off the ice.”

Malhotra played 58 games for Montreal last season, scoring one goal and three assists. Though he was excellent as usual at faceoffs, winning almost 60 percent of the 906 draws he took, the Canadiens cut ties when his one-year contract expired.

The Rangers drafted Malhotra seventh overall in 1998. He appeared in 344 games for the Blue Jackets after being claimed off waivers from Dallas in 2003.

Malhotra suffered a serious eye injury in March of 2011 when he was a member of the Vancouver Canucks. He’s since played NHL games for the Hurricanes and Canadiens.

Related: NHL ‘satisfied’ with Canucks’ decision to place Malhotra on IR

Benning upset that Canucks lost ‘pack mentality’ versus Ducks

Since Jim Benning was recruited out of the Bruins’ organization and named Canucks general manager, the following things have happened:

Derek Dorsett was acquired in a trade with the Rangers and signed to a four-year extension.
Luca Sbisa was acquired in a trade with the Ducks and signed to a three-year extension.
— Bruising winger Jake Virtanen was drafted sixth overall, ahead of smaller — but arguably more talented — forwards like William Nylander and Nikolaj Ehlers.
Brandon Prust was acquired in a trade with the Canadiens.

The common denominator? Toughness. Benning felt the Canucks needed more of it. He won a Stanley Cup in Boston with a big, bad team. Beat the Canucks in the final, actually.

Remember that series? Brad Marchand punched Daniel Sedin in the face a few times. Marchand was asked why he did it. “Because I felt like it,” he said.

That answer still stings in Vancouver.

So, what did Benning think when the Canucks were pushed around by the Ducks the other night?

“That Anaheim game was the most disappointing loss for me since I’ve been here,” Benning told the Vancouver Sun.

“I just felt that there were instances in that game where last year we (would have) stuck up for one another; when someone was picking on one of our guys … it was a pack mentality and as a team we stuck up for each other. For whatever reason, we didn’t stick up for each other that game. That was really disappointing for me to see that.”

Benning clearly believes in the “pack mentality” philosophy. When the Sbisa and Dorsett extensions were announced in April, here’s what he said:

“Over the course of the year … where in scrums and stuff, there’d be one guy and he’d have to figure it out. But about halfway through the year, we stuck together as a team and that was everybody in the scrums sticking up for one another. And I think a big part of that goes to Derek and Luca for instilling that mindset among our group.”

The Canucks are back in action tonight against the Dallas Stars.

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

New Year's Eve
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From the Sun Sentinel:

The Florida Panthers hockey team’s future in South Florida could be determined Tuesday. The Broward County Commission is expected to vote that day on whether to give the team an $86 million bailout in public funds.

Broward Mayor Marty Kiar said the proposal will be on the Tuesday meeting agenda.

The major financial details of the deal are in the story, so you can click on the link for those.

If there’s a key aspect of the proposed contract, it might be the one that, according to the newspaper, requires the Panthers to provide “an irrevocable letter of credit to protect the county’s financial investment if the team defaults, files bankruptcy or relocates.”

It’ll be interesting to read the small print there, because the big question in all these deals is — If they wanted to, how could they get out of it?

Case in point, in 2009, Jerry Moyes attempted to use bankruptcy to get the Coyotes out of their long-term lease with Glendale. That way, Jim Balsillie could move the team to Canada. At least, that was the plan. It didn’t quite work out that way, but you can bet Broward County was determined to protect itself from a similar situation.

Another key detail? And actually, this might be more key than the previous one. The newspaper reports that the Panthers will have the option to get out of the deal after eight years:

They’d have to give a year’s notice, show losses of $100 million over seven years, and pay a termination amount. For example, if the Panthers leave in year 8, they’d pay back the full $72 million the county would have given them by then. The termination penalty decreases each year thereafter but leaves the county with enough money to pay off the debt.

So while this reported deal may provide the Panthers with some stability over the next few years, it won’t completely stop the relocation buzzards from circling.