Jason Brough

Don Maloney
AP

Coyotes fire Maloney, citing need for ‘new direction’

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Confirming an earlier report, the Arizona Coyotes made it official this afternoon, announcing that general manager Don Maloney has been fired.

“On behalf of our ownership group and the entire Arizona Coyotes organization, I would like to sincerely thank Don for all of his hard work and the many contributions he made to our organization during his tenure,” said club president and CEO Anthony LeBlanc in a release. “The Coyotes had some success with Don, but we believe a change in leadership is needed in order to move our franchise forward in a new direction.”

The Coyotes say the search for a new GM will begin immediately, and that one will be hired “well before” the draft in late June. They also say that analytics will be a big part of their strategy going forward, meaning any candidate will require a modern management philosophy.

The Hockey News, meanwhile, is reporting that Maloney was fired after losing a “power struggle” with head coach Dave Tippett, and also that Stars assistant GM Les Jackson is a candidate to replace Maloney.

Maloney joined the Coyotes almost a decade ago. He guided the team to three playoff appearances, including a run to the Western Conference Final in 2012, the last year they qualified for the postseason. For much of Maloney’s tenure, the franchise was in danger of relocation, and he faced financial constraints in putting a roster together.

It’s still not known where the club will call home in the near future, though a move out of the Phoenix area seems less likely today than in previous years

Burrows would ‘love to be back’ with Canucks, but that may not happen

Vancouver Canucks' Alex Burrows celebrates his goal against the Colorado Avalanche during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, British Columbia, Thursday, March 28, 2013. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck)
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Alex Burrows hopes he hasn’t played his last game as a member of the Vancouver Canucks.

“I’d love to be back, love this city, love this team, care a lot about it,” he told reporters this morning while seated beside fellow veterans Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin and Dan Hamhuis.

“It would be nice to win a Stanley Cup in this city.”

Unfortunately for Burrows, it seems highly unlikely that will happen. Not only do the Canucks appear years away from contending again, the 35-year-old is believed to be a candidate for a buyout. He has one more season left on his contract. If he’s bought out, it would be a $2.5 million cap hit in 2016-17 and a $1 million hit the season after that.

The Canucks could also try to trade Burrows, retaining salary if needed. Management has not yet informed him of their intentions — his future could depend partly on what happens in the upcoming draft lottery — but for the record, he believes he has more to give than he showed this past season when he managed just nine goals in 79 games.

“I’m looking forward to a good summer of working out,” he said. “Last year, I starting working out really late because of the rib injury.”

Daniel Sedin would like to see Burrows return. Ditto for Hamhuis, the 33-year-old pending unrestricted free agent.

“Hopefully they’re going to be here next year,” said Sedin, calling Burrows a “big part of our success” and Hamhuis  a “big part of the D core.”

At the same time, Henrik Sedin conceded, “We all realize we need to get younger before we get better.”

And, so, another summer of hard decisions begins in Vancouver. The Canucks finished 2015-16 with just 75 points, 26 fewer than last season, and the fewest for the club since 1998-99. They were beset by injuries, but their issues went far beyond health.

GM Jim Benning and head coach Willie Desjardins will address the media tomorrow.

Healthy Caps: Beagle expected back for Game 1 of playoffs

Washington Capitals' Jay Beagle (83) and Florida Panthers' Aleksander Barkov (16) battle for the puck during the third period of a NHL hockey game in Sunrise, Fla., Friday, Dec. 13, 2013. The Panthers won 3-2 in overtime. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
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Jay Beagle is expected to be ready for the playoffs, Capitals GM Brian MacLellan told reporters today.

And just in case you didn’t believe him, MacLellan sent forward Zach Sill back to AHL Hershey.

Beagle was hurt blocking a shot Saturday in St. Louis. He didn’t play Sunday versus Anaheim due to a lower-body injury.

The 30-year-old forward is arguably the Caps’ best faceoff man; he plays a major role on the penalty kill, too.

If Beagle is indeed ready to go, the Caps will start the playoffs entirely healthy. And that’s not something many teams can say.

Habs owner ‘not interested in excuses,’ but committed to ‘stability’ after disappointing season

Geoff Molson
Getty

Montreal Canadiens owner Geoff Molson is “not interested in excuses.” He only wants to find ways to get the Habs back on track, after they “hit a bump in the road” in 2015-16.

“As far as what to expect in the offseason,” Molson wrote on the club’s website, “I will let our hockey operations team, led by Marc Bergevin and Michel Therrien, detail these in due time. When you have a disappointing season like the one we just had, no stone can be left unturned in looking for ways to improve. You have my full commitment that we will do everything possible to improve our team.

“This being said, despite subpar results this season, stability in our approach remains the focus. The mark of all good organizations in sports is stability and long-term vision. I remain convinced that we have a strong foundation of core players and veterans, as well as younger players with promising futures.”

The Canadiens, of course, were largely undone this season by the injury to Carey Price. Their problems extended beyond that, yes, but when you go from having the NHL’s best goaltending to having pretty much the opposite, it’s going to show up in the results.

Of note, Molson’s commitment to “stability,” as well as his nod to the Canadiens’ “strong foundation of core players,” would seem to fly in the face of the trade rumors surrounding P.K. Subban.

Today, Subban laughed off the notion that there was a rift between him and captain Max Pacioretty

…while first-line winger Brendan Gallagher spoke glowingly about Subban.

Bergevin, Therrien, and Molson will hold a joint press conference later today.

Updates from the press conference:

Michigan star Kyle Connor turns pro

Kyle Connor, center, puts on a Winnipeg Jets sweater after being chosen 17th overall during the first round of the NHL hockey draft, Friday, June 26, 2015, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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Freshman phenom Kyle Connor is going pro. The 19-year-old Hokey Baker finalist tweeted the news this morning, with a picture of him signing his first pro contract with the Winnipeg Jets.

Connor was drafted 17th overall by the Jets last summer. He then proceeded to rack up 71 points in 38 games for the University of Michigan.

Connor becomes just the latest Wolverine to leave school early, after Zach Werenski, Michael Downing, and Tyler Motte made the same decision.

It remains to be seen where Connor will start next season. He’s eligible to go to the AHL.

Related: Harvard product Jimmy Vesey claims 2016 Hobey Baker Award