A pending unrestricted free agent, David Backes could be relegated to third-line duty next season for the Blues.
According to a St. Louis Post-Dispatch interview with coach Ken Hitchcock, Backes’ role will be determined by the readiness of youngsters Dmitrij Jaskin, Ty Rattie and Robby Fabbri. If one of those three can hold down a top-six role, Backes will likely be the third-line center. If not, Hitchcock is planning for Backes to play right wing in the top six, with Paul Stastny and Jori Lehtera as the top two centers.
“I can tell you right now, (Backes) is going to play more right wing than he’s played since I got here,” said Hitchcock. “Whether he’s a full-time player there or not, we don’t know yet. That depends on those three young kids.”
Backes had 26 goals and 32 assists last season. The 31-year-old’s long-term future with the Blues is not clear at this point.
Report: Hoffman seeking $3.4 million, against Sens’ request of $1.75 million
“The answer is that’s something we would obviously have to consider,” Bettman said of putting Quebec City in a conference with the likes of Vancouver, Los Angeles, Anaheim, and San Jose, and in a Central Division (presumably) with teams as far-flung as Dallas and Denver, the closest being Chicago.
Not ideal, to say the least. Lest we forget the rivalry the Nordiques and Habs used to enjoy when both were together in the old Adams Division:
Now, granted, Bettman only said the NHL would have to “consider” putting Quebec City in the West. He also said that just because “we identify [geography] as an issue doesn’t mean we’ve reached a conclusion.”
“The experience with Winnipeg in the Southeast (Division) was less than ideal,” Bettman admitted. “The experience over time with Detroit and Columbus in the West — and they’re farther west geographically — they couldn’t wait to get into the East.”
At the end of the day, Quebec City might not even get an expansion team. At last glance, the Canadian dollar was sitting just below $0.77 US. (Of course, Bettman has brushed that concern aside.)
The Buffalo Sabres have replaced Ted Black (pictured) with Russ Brandon as president of the hockey club.
Brandon was already the president of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, who were recently bought by Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula.
“Since we purchased the Buffalo Bills last October, we have been highly impressed with the business acumen that Russ has shown with the Bills,” said the Pegulas in a release.
“Now is an appropriate time to give him additional responsibilities with the Sabres. Russ will work with Pegula Sports & Entertainment to create strong synergies between the Sabres and Bills. With Russ’ strong ties to the area business community and sponsorship partners, he will effectively position both organizations for future growth. We are grateful to Ted Black for all he has done for the Sabres organization and wish him much success in his future endeavors.”
A source told The News’ Bucky Gleason the Bills and Sabres owners, Terry and Kim Pegula, found how operations worked smoothly with the Bills and wondered why the Sabres had so many problems. Black apparently was “frozen out” during a trip with Sabres and Bills executives in Las Vegas.
For the record, the Sabres say Black “mutually agreed to part ways from the organization.”