Author: Mike Halford

Columbus Blue Jackets v Chicago Blackhawks

Sounds like it’s Rundblad, not TVR, in for Chicago on defense


The rotating door of Chicago’s depth defensemen continued Wedensday morning as David Rundblad looked and sounded as though he’d draw in for tonight’s Western Conference Final Game 6 at the United Center.

After this morning’s skate, ‘Hawks head coach Joel Quenneville addressed the potential change.

Q. Looks like David Rundblad is in for the team tonight, is that correct?

Quenneville: It could happen.

Q. How much does he have to shake off that first game and be himself?

Quenneville: You have to move on. You’re playing the next game. You’re playing the next shift. You got to be confident. You got to be comfortable and play.

Q. With Kimmo looking like he’s going to be a scratch, is it disappointing what you’ve gotten from him, the minutes you’ve had to play him?

Quenneville: He’s been useful in ways. I think you like his experience around the net. Defensively he’s got a good presence, good understanding, a good stick.

He keeps it simple. So I think that reliability has been useful.

(Is “useful in ways” the most backhanded compliment ever? I say yes.)

Speaking of Timonen, it’s not a surprise Coach Q has opted to park him. The veteran Finn has been exposed by the Ducks even while playing limited and sheltered minutes; Timonen’s speed is an issue, especially against Anaheim’s rather quick bottom-six forward group.

As for Trevor van Riemsdyk… while Quenneville sounded optimistic about the youngster’s chances yesterday, that enthusiasm was dampened today, and it shouldn’t be a huge surprise — TVR has missed most of this season with wrist and knee injuries, and only resumed practicing last week.

On Kreider, and trying ‘to turn the other cheek’


After last night’s win over the Lightning, Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault was asked for his thoughts on what could’ve been a game-changing play — Chris Kreider’s cross-checking penalty on Steve Stamkos, delivered in retaliation for a hit Stamkos laid on Ryan McDonagh moments earlier:

Bolts forward Ryan Callahan scored 20 seconds into the ensuing power play, cutting New York’s lead in half while energizing the Tampa Bay crowd. The play warranted some harsh media critique as Krieder was accused of being “dopey” and having “drove home his point too emphatically.”

To be fair, there were some — including a few Blueshirts — who felt the referees missed a boarding penalty on the initial Stamkos hit. Vigneault touched on that, along with Kreider’s actions, in today’s presser:

Q. Are you okay with Kreider’s response to the non-call?

Vigneault: Yeah. I mean, I think 98% of the people watching that hit, the numbers are there, five or six strides, face into the boards. You’ve got to play through that at this time.

I mean, as much as — at some point you’re happy that a player protects their teammate, and at this time not knowing what the guys calling are going to call, I mean, I’m more tempted to say turn the other cheek and let’s play.

Tuesday wasn’t the first time Kreider’s penchant for retaliation has hurt the Blueshirts. In A 6-5 OT loss in Game 3, he did this:

Moving ahead, the challenge for both Kreider and Vigneault will be finding — then toeing — the line between aggressiveness and recklessness. Much of what makes Kreider effective is his physicality; at 6-foot-3, 226 pounds and one of the most powerful skaters left in the postseason, the 24-year-old can have a massive impact on the game just by throwing himself around.

But as Game 6 showed, Kreider might be developing a reputation among officials. Between his history of retribution and crashing opposing netminders, there always seems to be an extra set of eyes on Kreider — and a quick whistle at the ready.

‘Very quiet’ on Derek Roy-Edmonton front, says agent

Edmonton Oilers v Pittsburgh Penguins

Not a huge surprise, but there hasn’t been much contract talk between Derek Roy and the Edmonton Oilers.

“Nothing to report,” Roy’s agent, Rob Hooper, told PHT on Wednesday. “Very quiet to date.”

It’s easy to understand why. Few teams have undergone more front office changes than Edmonton this offseason — Bob Nicholson was brought in as CEO, Peter Chiarelli was hired as GM and former Sharks bench boss Todd McLellan became the team’s new head coach.

So it stands to reason that, with all this changeover, Edmonton’s decision-makers haven’t had a ton of time to reach out to free agents. With that said, it’ll be interesting to see how the conversation goes once — or, if — they reach out to Roy.

The 32-year-old did enjoy a bounce-back campaign after getting traded to the Oilers in late December. Roy scored 11 goals and 22 points in 46 games, averaged nearly 17 minutes per night and developed some good chemistry with Nail Yakupov, who assisted on eight of Roy’s markers.

“I was waiting for a center for three years,” Yakupov said of playing with Roy, per the Edmonton Sun. “It’s the first time I’ve had a really good center and I’m really happy for it.

“It took us a couple of games to get used to each other and now we’re pretty comfortable. It’s easy to play with him. He can move the puck and he’s really smart. All I have to do is try to get open for a shot.”

Of course, all of this occurred under the Oilers’ old regime. Roy was acquired by now-assistant GM Craig MacTavish — it’s still unclear how big a role he’ll have under Chiarelli — and thrived playing for interim head coach Todd Nelson, who will reportedly explore other head coaching gigs now that McLellan is aboard.

Roy’s efforts also came prior to Edmonton winning the 2015 NHL Draft Lottery, which meant winning the rights to OHL Erie superstar Connor McDavid — who, like Roy, plays center. Edmonton also has 19-year-old center Leon Draisaitl, currently starring with WHL Kelowna at the Memorial Cup, looking to get back to the NHL next year.

Should he head to free agency, Roy would be in a class loaded with veterans. It would be curious to see how much his mini-revival with Edmonton sparked interest league-wide, especially after disappointing stints in St. Louis and Nashville.

No NHL-first offer has been made for Seattle arena, says Hansen

Chris Hansen

The latest from the NHL-to-Seattle front: Chris Hansen, the local investor behind the SoDo neighborhood arena, says there has been no offer made from a hockey franchise to become the prospective building’s inaugural tenant.

“We’ve had a lot of informal discussions with people about this, but us or the city have yet to be presented with any kind of offer. I mean any kind of even basic offer that would be the opening point for negotiating something,” Hansen told the AP on Tuesday.

“I just want to make that clear. No one has come forward and made an offer to do this in a way that would be unacceptable or acceptable. There hasn’t been any negotiation around the terms of how this could be changed. We’ve taken a very simple approach: Don’t make it worse for us and don’t make it worse for the city and use your own creativity and just come back to us with something that is fair and we don’t have anything back yet.”

More, from the AP:

The lack of formal discussions around a potential hockey franchise was surprising, considering his original memorandum of understanding with the city of Seattle and King County was approved more than two years ago and immediate NBA prospects have dimmed.

The original MOU calls for arena construction to begin only after the acquisition of a basketball franchise. A revised MOU for a hockey-first scenario would need to be approved by local governments and likely require more private investment.

Hansen acknowledged having discussions with Victor Coleman, the head of a Los Angeles-based real estate company who owns properties in Seattle’s stadium district and is known to be interested in trying to bring in hockey. Those discussions have yet to yield a formal proposal.

Back on May 5, Coleman — who’s been working with Hansen to get the arena — reaffirmed his desire to put a team in downtown Seattle.

“My priority is to figure out a way to make a deal on the SoDo site,” Coleman told Puget Sound Business Journal.

That said, Coleman did explain he had a “Plan B” in mind with regards to the arena, declining to say where his alternative site was located. It was the latest in a series of developments involving proposals outside of Seattle; in late April, developers in nearby Tukwila filed intent to build an arena — a group called RLB Holdings, headed up by Ray Bartoszek, the former energy trader who was reportedly close to moving the Coyotes to Seattle.

In light of those developments, Seattle mayor Ed Murray posed the idea of amending the MOU for a hockey-first proposal.

“I’m committed to doing everything I can to get an NBA and NHL team here in Seattle,” Murray said last month, per King 5. “And Seattle is absolutely the only place for an NHL and NBA team here in our region.

“As I’ve said before, I stand by the [memorandum of understanding] that the city signed which requires the NBA to commit to Seattle before an arena can be built. But given what we’ve heard from the NBA, I’m open to the idea of NHL coming to Seattle first. I am ready to listen and would be willing to reconsider the MOU if there is an NHL-first proposal that pencils out for the City.”

Hansen, who says he remains committed to getting the NBA back to Seattle, went on to tell the AP he doesn’t feel any pressure from RLB or the Tukwila proposal.

WATCH LIVE: Rangers at Lightning, Eastern Conference Final Game 6

Tonight at Amalie, the Tampa Bay Lightning will look to advance to the Stanley Cup Final — for the first time in 11 years — when they host the Rangers in a potential close-out game in the Eastern Conference Final (8 p.m. ET.)

You can catch the game on NBCSN, or live online using NBC Sports’ Live Extra.


Some relevant linkage for tonight’s affair:

In defense of Yandle, who’s ‘trying to make some plays’

Paquette ‘very questionable’ for Bolts after Game 5 shot block

Cooper: Lightning aren’t treating Game 6 like any other game