Ryan Dadoun

2016 Winter Classic Logo

Gillette Stadium will host Bruins-Habs alumni game ahead of Winter Classic

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Retired greats from two of the most storied franchises in NHL history will renew their rivalry on Dec. 31 in an outdoor game at Gillette Stadium, the league announced today.

At this time it’s not known who will be included in the contest, but Hall of Famer Ray Bourque is looking forward to the event.

Boston and Montreal have faced off in more than 900 games, including their meetings over 34 postseason series. They’ve also battled against each other in more Game 7s (nine) than any other combination of teams in the NHL, MLB, and NBA.

Boston will become the first franchise to host the Winter Classic twice after playing against the Philadelphia Flyers at Fenway Park in 2010. It is also the first time the Montreal Canadiens will be featured in a Winter Classic game and the third time the event will pit two Original Six squads against each other.

Gillette Stadium is home to the New England Patriots and seats 68,756.

“It is a true honor and privilege to host the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic®,” New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft said, during what has proved to be a busy day for him. “Since Gillette Stadium opened in 2002, we have been fortunate to host many special and memorable events. We are thrilled that the NHL and the Bruins wanted to bring a Bruins-Canadiens NHL Winter Classic to our stadium.”

The Winter Classic is set for Jan. 1 at 1:00 p.m. ET and will air on NBC.

Wilson requests $4.25M in arbitration, Predators offer $3M

Colin Wilson
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Restricted free agent Colin Wilson is going to get a significant raise this summer and soon he’ll know exactly how big it is.

With his arbitration hearing set for Tuesday, Wilson has filed a request for a $4.25 million salary while the Nashville Predators have countered at $3 million, per Elliotte Friedman. He earned $2.5 million last season in the final campaign of a three-year, $6 million contract.

The 25-year-old forward set new career-highs with 20 goals and 42 points in 77 contests in 2014-15. He went on to score another five goals in Nashville’s six-game first round series against the Chicago Blackhawks.

He’s the last of the three Predators RFAs to file for salary arbitration to be dealt with. Nashville traded Taylor Beck to Toronto and inked Craig Smith to a five-year, $21.25 million contract.

Barring another trade or signing in addition to Wilson’s, Nashville will likely enter the season with more than $10 million in cap space, per General Fanager. It does have some significant players eligible to test the restricted free agent waters next summer though, including Filip Forsberg, Mattias Ekholm, and Seth Jones.

Flames avoid arbitration, sign Byron to one-year deal

Paul Byron

The Calgary Flames announced that they have signed Paul Byron to a one-year contract.

The financial terms of the agreement weren’t released, but his deal is reportedly worth $900K, per Elliotte Friedman.

Byron, 26, was limited to 57 games last season due to injuries and underwent sports hernia and wrist surgeries over the offseason. He finished the 2014-15 campaign with six goals and 19 points in 57 contests.

He had an arbitration hearing scheduled for Thursday after completing his previous $600K contract. With Byron re-signed, the Flames’ only remaining restricted free agent is Michael Ferland.

Calgary might not be done this summer after inking Ferland though as captain Mark Giordano, who only has one season left on his contract, could still be re-signed.

Bettman doesn’t think loonie’s decline will make expansion to Quebec City a problem

Gary Bettman
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The NHL has made it clear that it will focus exclusively on the expansion bids from Quebec City and Las Vegas as no other groups managed to file an application before the July 20 deadline.

So while nothing is certain, it’s starting to look like Canada will get an eighth team as the Quebec Nordiques might be reborn just as the Winnipeg Jets before them. But does the fact that the Canadian dollar has declined substantially give the NHL pause? A loonie will get you just 76.65 cents American at this point and the concern, at least from the outside looking in, is that the drop might have a significant impact on Canadian franchises if it’s continued, particularly in small markets like Quebec City would be.

“It’s something the process will have us evaluate,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told the Boston Globe. “We’ll have to see . . . The Canadian dollar, it tends to get overstated. Our system accounts for the Canadian dollar. The Canadian franchises are seven out of 30 and it gets factored into the system.”

Bettman added that the existing Canadian clubs are doing fine and so he doesn’t see a problem raising the number to eight.

He did add though that the NHL might ultimately only add a single team or none at all.

Related: Post expansion, could NHL realign with eight divisions?

DeBoer gave glowing review of Lamoriello to Babcock

Peter DeBoer
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While Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock said he was “thrilled” by the hiring of Lou Lamoriello to the general manager post, there was plenty of speculation about how their relationship would work. Will Lamoriello assert control over how Babcock runs the team from above? Babcock is armed with an eight-year, $50 million contract, but what happens if the two don’t see eye-to-eye?

Peter DeBoer, who has the distinction of being the final coach fired by Lamoriello during his tenure with the Devils, doesn’t buy into the idea that Lamoriello will be telling Babcock how to do his job.

“Not once did he ever tell me what style we should be playing,” DeBoer told the Toronto Sun. “Not once did he ever tell me what line combinations we should be using. Not once did he ever tell me who I should be playing in what situations.

“I had heard a lot of the things you are talking about when I first interviewed for the job, but I found Lou to be nothing like that.

“In fact, in my time there, Lou was nothing but positive. All he wanted to do was to make your life easier as a coach. He would ask how he could help, how he could make things better. He could not have been more supportive.

“I have no doubt he and Mike will be on the same page.”

DeBoer told Babcock the same thing when the Toronto bench boss called him on Thursday to get insight on what it will be like to work under Lamoriello. Babcock noted that he got similar reviews from everyone else he reached out to about Lamoriello despite the fact that most of them had been fired by the former Devils president and general manager.

So maybe when Babcock said he was “thrilled” that Lamoriello was joining their ranks, that’s why.