Author: Jason Brough

Seattle

Report: Bartoszek (a.k.a. the Tukwila guy) invited to speak with NHL

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The man who still hopes to build an arena in the Seattle suburb of Tukwila may not have submitted a bid for an NHL expansion team, but he did reportedly get an invite to chat with the league in New York.

That’s according to the Seattle Times, which was told by an NHL source that “the league invited (Ray) Bartoszek to its New York offices for a chat Tuesday.”

The NHL said yesterday in a release that it will “focus exclusively on the two expansion applications” it did receive from Las Vegas and Quebec City.

But if Bartoszek did indeed get invited to New York, that may not be entirely accurate. The NHL has made it no secret that it’s “very intrigued by the Pacific Northwest.”

Many are wondering now if Seattle’s best chance of getting an NHL team is via relocation.

The Times also reported that Bartoszek had been scouring “Seattle and elsewhere in recent months seeking additional investors” for his project. However, “those courted wanted to know how a billion-dollar pledge toward hockey and an arena would prove profitable and they weren’t satisfied with the answers.”

According to King 5, Bartoszek is “still actively engaged in trying to make his arena project a reality.”

Post expansion, could NHL realign with eight divisions?

Calgary Flames v Ottawa Senators
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After the NHL received just two bids for expansion teams — one for Las Vegas, the other for Quebec City, but nothing for Seattle or Portland — could the league be headed for another realignment?

From the Globe and Mail’s Eric Duhatschek:

When the NHL last realigned, the commitment was only for three years. It was thought that the possibility of further change was left open merely to see how the then-ongoing Arizona Coyotes saga played out.

But now, it could also give way to a radical realignment with, among other things, the possibility of eight four-team divisions, the model used by the National Football League. Under that scenario, you could actually create two Canadian divisions – Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver in the West; Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City in the East.

If Las Vegas and Quebec City are granted franchises — a big if, mind you — perhaps an eight-division NHL could look something like:

West
1. Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg
2. Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Jose, Las Vegas
3. Arizona, Dallas, Colorado, Nashville
4. Minnesota, Chicago, St. Louis, Columbus
East
5. Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City
6. Carolina, Florida, Tampa Bay, Washington
7. NY Rangers, NY Islanders, New Jersey, Buffalo
8. Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Detroit, Boston

Cue Blue Jackets fans hollering about moving back to the Western Conference and Caps fans wondering why they have to be in a division with two teams from Florida. The Arizona- Dallas-Colorado-Nashville division is kinda far-flung, too.

The thing is, when it comes to realignment, there’s no perfect solution. Or, if there is, we haven’t seen one.

Feel free to add your ultimate eight-division alignment in the comments. Maybe you can craft the perfect formula.

No hurt feelings between Smith and Preds

craigsmithgetty
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In the end, Craig Smith and the Nashville Predators didn’t need an arbitrator to render a decision on his salary. The two sides reached a four-year, $21.25 million deal on their own.

But they still went through with Monday’s hearing. And as we all know, sometimes those hearings can cause hurt feelings.

Not so in this case, according to Smith and GM David Poile.

“I’ve probably said worse things (about) myself than what I heard (in) there,” Smith said, per The Tennessean.

Said Poile: “I’m sure if you talked to Craig Smith, he might have taken disagreement to things that we said, but I would be very surprised if he’s not a very happy guy today.”

Calgary’s Lance Bouma is scheduled for arbitration today. Thursday, it’s Washington’s Braden Holtby and Ottawa’s Alex Chiasson.

Related: Ah, arbitration: Holtby reportedly asking for $8 million, Caps countering at $5.1 million

Zac Rinaldo doesn’t ‘plan on getting suspended’ or ‘taking stupid penalties’

Zac Rinaldo, Andy McElman
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Zac Rinaldo is out to change his reputation as an undisciplined hockey player.

“[My game] is going to change in a better way for the team,” Rinaldo said, per the Bruins’ website. “I don’t plan on getting suspended; that’s the last thing I want to do. I don’t plan on taking stupid penalties; that’s the last thing I want to do, is hurt my team.

“Changing for the better will happen.”

Rinaldo was traded to Boston from Philadelphia in June. The 25-year-old forward has 572 PIM in 223 career NHL games. In January, he was suspended eight games for charging and boarding Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang from behind. At the time, he’d already been suspended twice and fined twice by the NHL.

Now with the B’s, he still intends to play a physical game, his acquisition not-so-coincidentally coming after GM Don Sweeney vowed to return “the aggressiveness that was lost in our group.”

He just plans to be a little smarter about it.

“I’m going to be the rough, tough Zac Rinaldo,” he said, “but I’m also going to add in more hockey sense.”

Vey admits his ‘preparation last summer wasn’t what it needed to be’

Columbus Blue Jackets v Vancouver Canucks
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While 10 goals and 14 assists aren’t exactly terrible numbers for a rookie, Linden Vey knows that his first season with the Vancouver Canucks did not match expectations.

Though he started relatively well, registering 12 points in his first 22 games, his production fell off dramatically. In the end, he was a healthy scratch for five of Vancouver’s six playoff games, and it was fair to question whether he could play center in the NHL.

“Sitting out (in the playoffs), I already had a lot of time to look at where things went wrong,” Vey told TSN.ca. “I was really honest. My preparation last summer wasn’t what it needed to be.”

Vey, who just turned 24, was acquired last summer in a trade with the Kings. He was essentially gifted a spot on Vancouver’s roster, despite having skated in only 18 NHL games up to that point.

Vey should once again be given a chance to play regularly in 2015-16. While centers Henrik Sedin, Nick Bonino, and Bo Horvat remain in Vancouver, the options beyond those three are limited, as the Canucks don’t have Brad Richardson or Shawn Matthias anymore.

“I’ve already worked the hardest I ever have in a summer,” Vey said. “In every league I’ve played in, I made a big jump in my second season. … Last season, I wasn’t the same player that got me to the NHL.”