Jason Brough

Canucks’ Higgins ready to make season debut against Penguins

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Chris Higgins is healthy and raring to go.

“I feel good, I should be available tomorrow,” the veteran Canucks winger said today. “No more of this extended summer; I’m excited to finally play.”

Vancouver hosts Pittsburgh tomorrow.

Higgins missed the first 12 games of the season after fracturing a bone in his foot during exhibition play. There’s reason to believe the 32-year-old will replace Sven Baertschi on a line with Bo Horvat and Jannik Hansen.

Canucks coach Willie Desjardins was asked about Baertschi yesterday, and lamented that the young winger was “just not in the groove” at the moment.

Baertschi has yet to score in 10 games, though he does have four assists.

Related: Baertschi expected to be healthy scratch for Canucks

Coyotes hire consultant to ‘explore arena options in the Valley’

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The Coyotes are probably going to leave Glendale soon. They said recently that “things are moving pretty quickly” in their search for a new home in the Phoenix are.

Today, the club announced that it’s hired Mitchell Ziets as an arena consultant.

“We are very pleased to have Mitchell on board with us,” said CEO Anthony LeBlanc. “Mitchell has a proven track record and we are looking forward to working with him as we explore our arena options in the Valley.”

From the press release:

Mitchell Ziets has represented buyers on over 50 acquisitions of sports properties, including successful acquisitions of, or investments in, the San Diego Padres, Washington Nationals, Los Angeles Dodgers, Cleveland Cavaliers, Anaheim Ducks, Seattle Supersonics, Boston Red Sox and Pittsburgh Steelers, among others. In addition, Mr. Ziets has a long history advising teams and public entities on new or renovated stadiums. His client roster includes some of the nation’s most well-known sports facilities including Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Petco Park, M&T Bank Stadium, Miller Park, Paul Brown Stadium, the Georgia Dome, Lincoln Financial Field, Citizen’s Bank Park, Great American Ballpark, Nationwide Arena, Quicken Loans Arena, Consol Energy Center, Staples Center, Bridgestone Arena, BB&T Center and Prudential Center.

With a background in corporate and municipal finance, Mitchell Ziets has structured and executed financing plans which include municipal, team and project debt.

The Coyotes have said repeatedly that their goal is to remain in the Phoenix area. Perhaps they end up back downtown as co-tenants with the NBA’s Suns. Maybe they move to Scottsdale. But wherever they go, a new arena will be needed, and that means money will have to be raised, either publicly or privately, or more likely a combination of the two sources.

Hence, Ziets and his lengthy resumé.

Of course, this won’t stop the speculation that the Coyotes will end up relocating to a completely different market, like, say, Seattle.

From SportsBusiness Journal:

Ziets

Related: Back downtown for Coyotes?

Boyle needs to make ‘quicker decisions with the puck’: Vigneault

Washington Capitals v New York Rangers - Game Seven
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Dan Boyle will be a healthy scratch for the second time this season when the Rangers host the Capitals. The veteran defenseman will be replaced by big, young Dylan McIlrath.

New York coach Alain Vigneault was asked this morning about his expectations for Boyle.

“I think overall I’m expecting a little quicker decisions with the puck,” said Vigneault. “I think his defensive play has been good. He’s been good in his one-on-one situations. But with the puck, I need a little bit more from Dan. That’s why we brought him here. To help us with that puck movement and on the power play.”

Boyle is 39 years old, one of the oldest players in the NHL.

“As you get older, it’s normal that you might not be as quick as you were before,” said Vigneault, “so you have to adjust parts of your game. I think he realizes that, and he’s trying to take the steps to make some of the adjustments.”

Boyle, a pending unrestricted free agent with a $4.5 million cap hit, has no goals and two assists (both on the power play) in 10 games. His ice time has been reduced by a couple of minutes compared to last season, to just over 18 minutes a game.

Related: Boyle not shocked by healthy scratch

 

Vigneault apologizes for remark about Mets’ Cespedes

Rangers coach Alain Vigneault has apologized for questioning the toughness of Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.

“I should know better,” Vigneault told reporters today, per the Daily News.

Vigneault said he texted Mets manager Terry Collins to apologize for his “stupidity.”

Vigneault — a guy known, and usually appreciated, for his cutting sense of humor — made the comment about Cespedes yesterday, saying, “How ’bout the one when you take the ball off (the knee) and you take yourself out of the game in the World Series?”

It was a flippant remark, and not 100-percent accurate either, as Cespedes did try to stay in the game, only to pop out with the bases loaded. The Mets managed to score just one run in that sixth inning, increasing their lead to 2-0. They went on to lose in extra innings, giving the Royals their first World Series title since 1985. .

As you can see, not everyone agreed that Cespedes should’ve toughed it out. In fact, quite the opposite:

No suspension for Byfuglien for hit on Gallagher

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Dustin Byfuglien will receive no supplemental discipline for his hit Sunday on Montreal’s Brendan Gallagher.

After hearing Byfuglien’s side of the story, the NHL ruled today that Gallagher’s head was not the “main point of contact” in the collision, differentiating it from suspension-worthy hits like Ottawa’s Mark Stone on Detroit’s Landon Ferraro.

Many were expecting Byfuglien to face further discipline after the big Jets defenseman had reportedly been warned multiple times already this season. He received only a minor penalty for boarding Minnesota’s Jason Pominville on Oct. 25. He was also penalized (charging) for leveling St. Louis defenseman Jay Bouwmeester on Oct. 18.

The decision to not suspend Byfuglien also comes not long after the NHL decided not to suspend Boston’s Zac Rinaldo for a controversial hit.