Ryan Dadoun

Vince Vaughn

PHT Morning Skate: (Video) Vince Vaughn’s passionate about Blackhawks

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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.

Vince Vaughn recently spoke about his love for the Blackhawks and, prior to Game 4, why he thinks Chicago will ultimately win this series:

Scott Gomez talks about one of his first practices with the Devils and his unusual introduction to Ken Daneyko. The story is then retold from Daneyko’s point of view. Be warned that there’s strong language in this piece. (The Players’ Tribune)

The Kelly Cup Final is going to Game 7. (ECHL.com)

Just to highlight the sky high expectations being thrust on Connor McDavid, this picture of him with Sidney Crosby and Wayne Gretzky has taken off:

Gretzky also recently talked about McDavid, saying that he’d “be the first guy to shake his hand if he breaks my records.” (Canadian Press)

Two Catholic leaders have put a wager on the Stanley Cup Final. (NBC Chicago)

Glendale schedules meeting to explore possible termination of Coyotes lease agreement (Updated)

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The City of Glendale has scheduled a meeting for Wednesday at 9:00 p.m. ET to discuss the possibility of terminating its current lease agreement with the Arizona Coyotes.

The Coyotes are not pleased. Nick Wood, of the law firm Snell & Wilmer, has issued the following statement on the behalf of the club:

“This is a blatant attempt to renege on a valid contract that was negotiated fairly and in good faith and in compliance with all laws and procedures. In the event the City Council initiates any action to revoke, repeal or otherwise rescind the agreement, the Coyotes will immediately take all actions available to them under the law against the City of Glendale.”

Coyotes co-owner, president and CEO Anthony LeBlanc added, “This action by the City of Glendale is completely ludicrous, especially in light of the fact that myself and Andrew Barroway visited with the City yesterday and the particulars of this were never raised. In fact, we to this moment have not been advised of this other than the notification on the City website. The City of Glendale is displaying a complete lack of good faith, business acumen or an understanding of a business partnership. We want to reassure our great fans that the Arizona Coyotes are committed to Glendale and playing at Gila River Arena.”

It is worth noting that the subject of the organization’s relationship with the City of Glendale was raised during Tuesday’s state of the union and LeBlanc mentioned the Barroway meeting with Mayor Jerry Weiers, Vice Mayor Ian Hugh, and city attorney Michael Bailey. LeBlanc categorized the meeting as “good” and said that they talked about how the franchise and city could work more closely together.

“The mayor, you know, on August 5th of 2013 when we closed the deal — actually I guess it was in July when we had the vote with the city of 2013, he came up to me afterwards, and he said, look, at the end of the day I wasn’t a supporter of the deal, but I want to do what I need to do to work with the Coyotes and make things work, and I take him as a man of his word, and he reiterated that yesterday,” LeBlanc said during the press conference.

This also comes after a TSN report in May that said senior elected city officials were exploring legal grounds to void the arena management contract. The Coyotes refuted that report.

Update: Glendale’s legal challenge would focus on Arizona statute 38-511, according to Fox Sports’ Craig Morgan. The full statute is here, but subsection A states:

The state, its political subdivisions or any department or agency of either may, within three years after its execution, cancel any contract, without penalty or further obligation, made by the state, its political subdivisions, or any of the departments or agencies of either if any person significantly involved in initiating, negotiating, securing, drafting or creating the contract on behalf of the state, its political subdivisions or any of the departments or agencies of either is, at any time while the contract or any extension of the contract is in effect, an employee or agent of any other party to the contract in any capacity or a consultant to any other party of the contract with respect to the subject matter of the contract.

’16 Draft prospect Bellows, son of Brian, joins USNTDP

Bellows
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Kieffer Bellows has agreed to play for the United States National Team Development Program under-18 team in 2015-16, per NHL.com.

Bellows, 16, is regarded as one of the top prospects for the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. He had 52 points and 78 penalty minutes with Sioux Falls Stampede en route to being named the USHL Rookie of the Year. Some of the other recent ROY winners include Johnny Gaudreau (2011), Max Pacioretty (2007), Kyle Okposo (2006), and Joe Pavelski (2003).

He’s also the son of Brian Bellows, who had a 1,188-game career with the Minnesota North Stars, Montreal Canadiens, Tampa Bay Lightning, Anaheim Ducks, and Washington Capitals.

“We are excited to have Kieffer join us next year,” USNTDP U-18 coach Danton Cole said. “He had a tremendous season in Sioux Falls, winning a USHL championship while also being recognized for several awards. Coach [Cary] Eades and his staff did an excellent job with Kieffer and it will serve him well as he embarks on our USHL, NCAA and international schedule.”

Boudreau remains, but Ducks fire assistant Lauer

Brad Lauer
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Although Anaheim made it to the Western Conference Final this year, Ducks GM Bob Murray wasn’t happy with how the team handled itself in Games 6 and 7 of that series against Chicago. Murray consequently wouldn’t even guarantee the return of head coach Bruce Boudreau until after he had time to conduct an evaluation of the franchise.

Now that process is over and the Ducks have announced that assistant coach Brad Lauer will not be retained. The rest of the coaching staff, including Boudreau, will return, per the Orange County Register’s Eric Stephens.

“We’ve spent the last week evaluating everything from top to bottom, including all player and staff performance,” Murray said. “This process is something I believe is essential each and every year, no matter the results of the season. We’ve decided to refocus and change the responsibilities of one of the assistant coach positions. We want to thank Brad Lauer for his hard work and dedication, and we wish him the best of luck in the future.”

There was some speculation about Boudreau’s future with the club, but Murray’s decision to retain him doesn’t come as a surprise. Boudreau has more than his fair share of big game losses, but there’s been a clear line of advancement since he took over as the team’s bench boss. This was the Ducks’ first trip to the Conference Final since 2007.

Coyotes ‘open for business’ as draft day nears

2014 NHL Draft - Round 2-7
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The Arizona Coyotes missed out on one of the coveted top two picks when the Edmonton Oilers won the 2015 draft lottery. That left them with the third overall selection, which is where things start to get interesting as there’s no consensus number three after Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel.

Certainly there’s still plenty of high-end talent available after McDavid and Eichel though and teams have consequently contacted Coyotes GM Don Maloney about acquiring the pick.

“I was approached by three teams, had a call right before now asking me what would it take to get that pick, and I’m like, first born, second born, maybe I could use a helicopter to take me to work,” Maloney joked during the Coyotes’ “State of the Union” press conference. While that obviously sounds like a way to rule out moving the pick, he actually is open to the idea. Rather than move it straight up for a player though, he thinks it’s more likely that the Coyotes will trade down in the draft.

The Coyotes also have five other picks in the first three rounds, including Chicago’s top selection and they’re willing to part with some of them to help address their current holes. Among other things, Arizona is in the market for centers.

“Nobody is going to give us good players without giving up something, and that’s why we are certainly open for business,” Maloney said.

It also helps matters that the Coyotes have more cap space right now than any other team, per General Fanager. If the cap ends up being $71 million, then they will need to spend nearly $19 million just to reach the floor and thus are in a great position to take on contracts from squads struggling to get below the ceiling.

Adding to that is the fact that the Coyotes will be operating with an increased budget for the 2015-16 campaign. Although the specifics of that aren’t clear and some of the money is going into things like scouting and player development rather than player salaries.

All that’s left Maloney optimistic about the future despite the Coyotes’ disastrous season.

“If we can fill in the rest of the holes, I think we can all get back to where we want to be in a hurry.”