Author: Matt Reitz

Toronto Maple Leafs v Florida Panthers

Toronto wants to host the Winter Classic


In a bit of breaking news, it’s come to light that the Toronto organization would like to host a Winter Classic. In related news, water is wet and the Boston Bruins are good at hockey.

There are rumors aplenty that Detroit has the inside track for next year’s Winter Classic—but for now, they are just rumors. Gary Bettman addressed some media members yesterday and narrowed it down to cities that haven’t already hosted a Winter Classic and teams that could handle the climate requirements. In other words, there are 25 teams that are hopefully that they can make some kind of pitch to the league. If they can play a game in Las Vegas, then owners would surely want to find a creative way to get in on the action.

One of the ideas floating is that the Toronto Maple Leafs would like to throw their hat into the ring. Brian Burke, as blunt as ever, was straight to the point with QMI Agency today: “We would love to host a game and the league knows it.”

There isn’t a lot of gray area in that statement, is there?

Of course, the players would be all over the chance to play in an outdoor game as well. Leafs rookie Nazem Kadri spoke to reporters, “It’s something that I’ve always watched. I think it would be cool for Toronto to get in on something like that.”

There are about 23 guys on 29 other teams that would agree that it would be fun “to get in on something like that.”  Either way, it’s good to know that the Leafs would be willing participants if the NHL tapped them on the shoulder.  After all, there was that .0001 percent chance that they wouldn’t be interested.

Jose Theodore out for two weeks

Montreal Canadiens v Florida Panthers

News out of South Beach is that Florida Panthers starting goaltender is out for two weeks with a knee injury he suffered on New Year’s Eve against the Montreal Canadiens. Renaud Lavoie from RDS broke the news and added the disclaimer: “could be longer.” We’ll just let the “could be longer” part settle in for the Panthers fans out there.

Theodore has been a solid No. 1 netminder for the surprising Panthers this season. He’s given his new team a chance to win just about every start; it’s all Dale Tallon and Co. could have hoped for when they watched Tomas Vokoun walk away and signed Theodore on July 1. Don’t look now, but Theodore as a better goals against average and save percentage through the first three months of the season.

Head coach Kevin Dineen has already announced that Jacob Markstrom will get the start in Florida’s next game against the Islanders. The team plays back-to-back games against the Islanders and Devils, so they will probably need both the rookie Markstrom and inconsistent back-up Scott Clemmensen to step up their games as the Panthers continue to fight for the Southeast Division lead.

The Panthers doctors and coaches are remaining optimistic that Theodore’s injury won’t turn into a long-term problem. “We got our fingers crossed it’s nothing too serious,’’ head coach Kevin Dineen told the Sun-Sentinel. “Our doctors feel good that he’ll be back in the swing of things fairly soon.’’

Until then, hotshot prospect Markstrom will get another opportunity to impress at the NHL level.

Seattle makes a lot of sense for the Coyotes

Boston Bruins v Phoenix Coyotes

As of Sunday, the NHL has been permitted to start negotiating with other markets regarding a potential move of the Phoenix Coyotes. The good news for fans in Phoenix is that the league has repeatedly stated that they’re preference is to keep the team in Phoenix Glendale. The league hasn’t started contacting other potential owners in other potential markets yet; so things could be worse.

The incomparable Elliotte Friedman wrote a detailed article today breaking down various scenarios for the league and the Coyotes future (you should check out the entire article). He breaks it down to where Seattle and Quebec City make the most sense for the league in the short-term. More importantly, he breaks it down from a financial standpoint for the other 29 owners. Sooner or later, it always comes back to money.

Instead of choosing between Seattle and Quebec City, Friedman explains that the league could be interested in both—and another Toronto area team as well. Why? Is it for better competitive balance? To even the new realigned divisions that go into effect next season? No. Because there’s a lot of money to be made this way.

He explains the Coyotes could fetch around $170 in relocation, etc. fees for the 29 owners. Here’s where it gets interesting. If the Coyotes move to Seattle, that still leaves the starving hockey market in Quebec City available for the league to pursue.

“And you’d have to think that if Quebec City gets an expansion team, the fee will be higher than the purchase price of the Coyotes, especially if the NHL can create some kind of bidding war for the right to own the team there,” Friedman explains in his article. “What does Seattle relocation + Quebec City expansion + Toronto expansion equal? A billion dollars. And that might be conservative.”

A billion dollars can make a pretty convincing argument to the owners who are in the business of making a profit. Of course, the league still insists that they want to keep the team in Arizona for the long-term. Friedman talked to some of the powers-that-be at the Pebble Beach meetings last month and heard that the chances of the Coyotes staying are about 50/50 at this point.

50/50 isn’t that bad when everything else is considered at this point, is it?

PHT Morning Skate: Ryan Suter is more than Shea Weber’s wingman

Minnesota Wild v Nashville Predators
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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

As respect for Shea Weber has exploded around the league, there are those who may have forgotten that Ryan Suter could be just as good. (Tennessean)

Whether he’s ready or not, the magical 2011 has finally come to an end for Logan Couture. (CSN Bay Area)

Cam Charron talks about Petr Mrazek’s celebrations and reminding everyone that hockey games between young kids (the World Juniors) is supposed to be fun. (Backhand Shelf)

Talk about living the charmed life. Not only has Adam Henrique had a chance to break into the NHL, he’s getting the chance to do so between Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise. This is taking the “putting him in position to succeed” idea to a whole new level. (Star-Ledger)

The good news is that Team USA looked a lot better in their narrow defeat to Team Canada at the World Junior Championships. The bad news is that the game didn’t mean a thing (for either team) after back-to-back losses by Team USA earlier this week. (Buzzing the Net)

Is it too soon to call the Avalanche losers in that Semyon Varlamov trade? What about the Erik Johnson trade? Adrian Dater says the jury is still out. (Denver Post)

Tim Thomas spoke out about going 11 days between starts after the Bruins 4-2 loss in Dallas. Actually, he refused to say anything—which told us all we needed to know. (Boston Herald)

Matthew Hulsizer had until midnight to complete his purchase of the St. Louis Blues. Since the deadline has come and gone, now what? (Post-Dispatch)

Panthers’ enforcer Krys Barch was ejected from Saturday night’s game after a linesman heard him drop a racial slur directed at PK Subban. Judging by the Panthers general partners comments, the game misconduct could be the least of Barch’s worries. (On Frozen Pond)

Finally, Steven Stamkos finishes the year in style. A hat trick for Stammer and the 500th assist for Martin St. Louis. He’s going to be pretty good when he grows up. (NHL)

Giguere shines in return to Anaheim

Ryan O'Byrne, Jean-Sebastien Giguere
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Jean-Sebastien Giguere admitted that the first trip to Anaheim this season would be special for him. After conference calls and plenty of questions about what the return would mean to him, Giguere finally was able to get down to easy part—the actual game. Sixty minutes later, the Avs were leaving just as quickly as they arrived with a strong 4-2 victory over the Ducks.

Giguere admitted that there were some nerves involved to start the game. “[I was] a little nervous,” Giguere said. “It’s been so long—it’s been two years, that’s a long time in hockey. At the same time, I was excited. I wanted to have a good performance. I am really pleased with the result. It speaks to all the guys who played in front of me.”

No matter how often coaches or teammates spouted off clichés about this being “just another game,” the return to Anaheim was anything but an average game for Giguere over the course of a long, 82-game season. It’s wasn’t just the return—it was the fan’s reaction to Giguere’s return.

In case there was any doubt, the former Conn Smythe winner and Stanley Cup champion returned to a hero’s welcome on Saturday night. “I was pretty touched,” the Avs netminder said. “I wasn’t necessarily expecting a bad reaction, but I’m glad that people reacted that way. Obviously, I consider this place my second home – my kids were born here so it means a lot to me when I come back here. I’ve always had a lot of respect for Ducks fans, they’ve always been amazing to me. I’ve never really gotten a chance to say thanks to them, obviously, so thank you guys.”

Here’s the video montage that the Ducks organization put together for the Honda Center crowd early in the first period.