Jason Brough


Dec. 1 deadline no concern yet for Trouba camp


Jacob Trouba needs to sign an NHL contract by Dec. 1, otherwise he can’t play in the league this season.

But according to his agent, that deadline is not part of the equation quite yet.

“It’s only Oct. 17,” Kurt Overhardt told the Winnipeg Free Press last night. “There’s obviously a lot of time between now and then. … It’s not really an issue at this point.”

In the meantime, Overhardt says he’ll keep working to “facilitate a positive transaction,” i.e. facilitate a trade out of Winnipeg so that the young defenseman can play a bigger role elsewhere.

So far, GM Kevin Cheveldayoff hasn’t given in to Trouba’s demand. But the Jets (1-2-0) are not off to a great start, and if they continue to struggle, the pressure on Cheveldayoff to bring the situation to some sort of conclusion will only increase as Dec. 1 approaches.

Of course, at the same time, Trouba isn’t playing, so he isn’t getting paid either. And if he signs an offer sheet and the Jets match, he has to stay in Winnipeg.

It’s quite the game of chicken, and the Jets and Trouba aren’t the only ones playing it. The Anaheim Ducks still haven’t been able to sign their young defenseman, Hampus Lindholm. And like the Jets, the Ducks (0-2-1) are off to a tough start.

“The season is more than three games,” Lindholm’s agent, Claude Lemieux, told Postmedia. “Trying to get a long-term deal is more than just the performance of the team during a short period of time. There’s definitely motivation from both sides to try and get a deal done.”

It’s a different situation in Anaheim compared to Winnipeg, because Lindholm doesn’t want to be traded. But it’s complicated by the likelihood the Ducks will have to make a trade to keep him. The speculation has Cam Fowler on the move. Which probably wouldn’t surprise Fowler, who expected to be dealt over the summer.

But we’ll have to wait and find out for sure.

It’s only Oct. 18.

Babies get in free: NHL changes ticket policy after outcry in Winnipeg


After an outcry in Winnipeg, the NHL has changed its ticketing policy to allow children under two years of age to enter special events without a ticket.

The statement from the league:

Over the last number of years, the League’s procedure for its Special Event games (e.g., NHL All-Star, NHL Winter Classic, NHL Stadium Series and NHL Heritage Classic) has required that any fan, regardless of age, be required to have a ticket to gain entry. After reviewing this practice, the League has decided to adopt a standard that more closely mirrors that of similar entertainment events and that to which local NHL Clubs adhere. While the League will strive to adopt such policy for these Special Event games, in some instances, it may not be possible or practical in a particular venue.

This new procedure will be effective for the 2016 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic™ in Winnipeg on October 23, and, as such, children two years and older must have a ticket in order to gain entrance to Investors Group Field for the 2016 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic™. Children under two years of age may enter without a ticket but must sit on the lap of an accompanying adult.

This CBC.ca story from last month explains why the league made the change:

A Winnipeg couple say they will file a human rights complaint against the NHL for a policy requiring their breastfeeding baby to have a full-price ticket to the upcoming Heritage Classic, even after the league apologized and offered them free tickets.

Clifford Anderson and Shalyn Meady went public with their concerns earlier this week, after learning they would have to spend an extra $400 for their six-month-old son, William, to attend the 2016 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg next month.

The couple said they were told by the league that William, who is not old enough to sit upright without help, has to have his own seat for safety reasons.

The NHL said a refund can be obtained for any ticket that was bought for a child under two years of age to attend Sunday’s game.

The undefeated Canucks get their first real test tonight


The Vancouver Canucks haven’t lost yet, but they haven’t held a lead either. After two come-from-behind victories over Calgary and Carolina — both of which required overtime — they’ll get their toughest test of the season tonight at home against the undefeated St. Louis Blues.

“They’re definitely one of the best teams in the league,” Canucks forward Brandon Sutter told TSN 1040 radio this morning. “At least the last five or six years, they’ve been a dominant team in the West. So we expect a hard game. They’re a big team, heavy team, and very good defensively. They’re well-coached, they’re a very good structural team, and those are always the hardest teams to play against.”

Injured for much of last season, Sutter has played the hero twice already. He notched the shootout winner Saturday against Calgary, then scored in overtime Sunday to complete the comeback over Carolina.

But despite the two victories, the Canucks still have much to prove to their many detractors. After all, the Flames and Hurricanes are not the Blues, who are 3-0-0 after beating the Blackhawks, Wild, and Rangers.

Expect winger Jack Skille to replace youngster Jake Virtanen in Vancouver’s lineup. Head coach Willie Desjardins didn’t love Virtanen’s game against the Hurricanes (neither did Joakim Nordstrom, presumably), so Skille will make his Canucks debut on a line with Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi.

Also, goalie Jacob Markstrom will make his second straight start for Vancouver. That wasn’t the plan originally, but Ryan Miller showed up to the rink “a little tight,” per Desjardins, so Markstrom gets the nod.

Update: Miller won’t dress. Markstrom will reportedly be backed up by 23-year-old Matt Hewitt, the goalie for the University of British Columbia.

As for the Blues, it’s possible that winger Jaden Schwartz could return from his elbow injury tonight, but Thursday in Edmonton is more likely, according to NHL.com’s Lou Korac.

Related: Virtanen remains with Canucks, but AHL still an option down the road

The odds say Torts will be fired first


A winless start in Columbus has made John Tortorella the most likely NHL head coach to be fired first, according to online bookmaker Bovada.

Tortorella is getting 13/4 odds to get the ax before any of his counterparts. He’s followed by Willie Desjardins in Vancouver at 7/2 and Islanders bench boss Jack Capuano at 15/4. Next are Michel Therrien in Montreal at 11/2 and Claude Julien in Boston at 13/2, while Alain Vigneault in New York and Paul Maurice in Winnipeg are each at 7/1.

As for Tortorella, there’s no doubt the Blue Jackets are in tough. They lost their first two games of the season and host Chicago Friday. After that, they have four road games against tough competition in Dallas, Los Angeles, San Jose and Anaheim. So it could get worse before it gets better.

That being said, even if the losses pile up, the Jackets may be loath to fire another coach. Tortorella hasn’t even been on the job a year, after replacing Todd Richards last October. And remember, for the privilege of hiring Tortorella, the Jackets had to send Vancouver a second-round draft pick.

Related: Two losses and the Blue Jackets get new lines

The Winter Classic in St. Louis is sold out


Don’t have Winter Classic tickets yet? Well, you’ll have to hit up the secondary market, because the Jan. 2 game between the Blues and Blackhawks at Busch Stadium in St. Louis is sold out.

From the Post-Dispatch:

The NHL put an undisclosed number of tickets to the outdoor game on sale at 10 a.m. viaTicketmaster.com, and minutes later hopeful fans at their computers were turned away.

Busch Stadium will hold an estimated 50,000 fans for the Blues-Blackhawks’ game and the alumni game on Dec. 31, but the Blues did not have control of all those seats. They were split between the NHL, Blues, Blackhawks and Cardinals.

Four outdoor games will be played this season, the first one going this Sunday in Winnipeg between the Jets and Oilers. The next one is scheduled for Jan. 1, when the Maple Leafs will host the Red Wings at BMO Field in Toronto. The Winter Classic is the following day, and the fourth and final outdoor game is set for Feb. 25 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh between the Penguins and Flyers.