Author: Ryan Dadoun

Gila River Arena

Glendale City Council unanimously backs amended arena lease deal

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A day after the City of Glendale and the Arizona Coyotes came to terms on an amended arena lease agreement, the City Council has voted unanimously to rescind its cancellation of the management deal and approved the proposed amendment, per the Coyotes’ Twitter feed.

That brings an end to most recent chapter of the rocky story that is the Coyotes’ history in Glendale, but this move hasn’t erased all uncertainty about the franchise’s future.

As opposed to the previous 15-year deal, the amended agreement will only run through 2017, so the question has shifted to what will happen with the Coyotes come the 2017-18 campaign.

In his statement yesterday, Coyotes co-owner Anthony LeBlanc said, “We know that hockey works in the Valley and we are committed to Arizona for the long-term.” Of course, if you wanted to speculate, you could attempt to read into him saying Arizona rather than Glendale. It might be over-analyzing, but Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton was willing to help bring the team back if a resolution couldn’t be reached with the City of Glendale.

Speculation like that is likely to persist until the Coyotes given the short-term nature of the agreement, but at least the immediate dispute is resolved as the Coyotes work towards bringing the team back to the playoffs.

Lightning CEO Tod Leiweke steps down, becomes NFL’s COO

Tod Leiweke
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An opportunity for Tod Leiweke has led to a front office shakeup for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The team announced that Leiweke is stepping down from his post as the chief executive officer to become the NFL’s chief operating officer.

Leiweke spent five years with the Lightning, working under owner Jeff Vinik. Lightning president Steve Griggs has been named as his successor while GM Steve Yzerman will still report to Vinik when it comes to any matter that relates to hockey operations.

“Tod has been instrumental in our franchise transformation and I am grateful for all his work and dedication,” said Vinik. “During Tod’s five years with the Lightning, we have set our franchise on a trajectory for excellence with Steve Griggs and an outstanding management team working beside him every step of the way. Steve is ready for the additional responsibilities that come with being CEO, and, as a testament to Tod, we will not miss a beat moving forward.”

Griggs has previously worked for the Minnesota Wild, Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment, and the Orlando Magic. Leiweke brought Griggs in to serve as Tampa Bay’s COO and then later as team president. Griggs has been credited with helping grow the business side of the Lightning, including the team’s season ticket base.

Redemption time? Montreal, Semin agree to one-year deal

Alexander Semin
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Alexander Semin’s journey for redemption will take him through the most storied franchise in NHL history.

The Montreal Canadiens announced that they have signed Semin to a one-year deal. His contract is worth $1.1 million, per TVA Sports’ Renaud Lavoie — a far cry from the five-year, $35 million contract the Carolina Hurricanes bought themselves out of after just two seasons.

Inconsistency is nothing new to Semin, but he hit new lows last season with just six goals and 19 points in 57 games. On top of that, Hurricanes GM Ron Francis criticized Semin’s “compete level,” which is, justifiably or not, an issue that has been brought up with Semin before.

Semin’s agent, Mark Gandler, countered that Hurricanes coach Bill Peters “did not understand Sasha’s game.”

If you do buy into the argument that motivation has been a problem for Semin though, then there’s still reason to believe it won’t be this season. After all, the 31-year-old has plenty to prove and no long-term job security given his contract. Under similar circumstances during the lockout shortened 2013 campaign, Semin had 13 goals and 44 points in 44 games.

Either way, this is a low-risk move for Montreal and when you consider that Semin has surpassed the 30-goal and 70-point marks on three separate occasions, this has the potential to be a steal for a team that tied for the fewest goals allowed in the league last season, but finished 20th in terms of goals per game.

Lamoriello thanks Devils fans with full-page newspaper ad

Lou Lamoriello
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There are some people that are so deeply involved with a team for such an extended period of time, it becomes hard to envision that person working anywhere else. Lou Lamoriello is a prime example of that.

He spent 28 years with the New Jersey Devils — more than half of the franchise’s existence — and was the architect of all three of their Stanley Cup championships. In a stunning move though, he left the Devils’ organization yesterday to become the Toronto Maple Leafs’ new general manager.

While yesterday was dedicated to digesting the immediate aftermath of the move and what it ultimately means to both franchises, on a more personal level, Lou Lamoriello wanted to reach out to the fans he served for nearly three decades. He did so in a full-page ad that was published in The Record.

Here’s what he said:

Dear New Jersey Devils’ Fans:

Since I first joined the New Jersey Devils in 1987 your dedication to the organization motivated me to work my hardest – every day, every week, every year. The nearly three decades I’ve been with the Devils are times I will cherish and never forget.

Together we saw the New Jersey Devils make history. All of the players who were so devoted to winning and New Jersey. All of the employees of the team who shared the same philosophy. The staffs at what was then Continental Arena and the Prudential Center helping to make sure the New Jersey Devils were always a team you would be proud to support.

1995, 2000, 2003 were seasons where we reached the ultimate goal. We all shared a common objective: Excellence. Hearing you cheering for the team on those historic nights remains with me to this day and always will.

I am most appreciative of Dr. John McMullen for bringing me to New Jersey in the first place. His desire to win the Stanley Cup for New Jersey was a goal we all shared and were fortunate to achieve – three times.

Through all the years, you the fans are an unforgettable part of my New Jersey Devils experience and I am grateful for your passion and unwavering support.

I will miss you and New Jersey. Though now a rival, the New Jersey Devils have a bright future. Of that you can be assured. I thank you again for your commitment to what we worked to achieve every year for the last 28 seasons.

With deepest admiration

Lou Lamoriello

Blashill: Expectations for Mantha in ’14-15 were too high

Anthony Mantha
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Coach Jeff Blashill is making the leap from AHL Grand Rapids to the Detroit Red Wings, but top-end prospect Anthony Mantha probably won’t be following him in the short-term after, as Red Wings executive Jim Devellano put it, a “very, very, very disappointing” start to his pro career.

Mantha was taken with the 20th overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft and followed that up with 57 goals and 120 points in 57 QMJHL contests in 2013-14. That left Mantha feeling like he could make Detroit’s roster out of training camp. Ultimately though, he recorded 15 goals and 33 points in 62 AHL contests.

“First of all, the expectation level on Anthony was too high, and in part that was his fault,” Blashill told The Detroit News. “When you have a career like that in juniors, the expectations are too high.”

The new Red Wings bench boss noted that untimely injuries sustained in September and then right before the playoffs were part of the problem, but the 20-year-old also has to develop good habits.

“I think Anthony still needs to learn to work as hard as you have to work, shift in and shift out, moving his feet, in order to utilize that skill set at the American league level and the NHL level,” Blashill added. “And it would have been impossible for him to realize he had to do that at the junior level, because he didn’t have to.

“Until you’ve faced a level where you actually have to, you’re never going to make those adjustments.”

Naturally he’s still optimistic about Mantha. Perhaps the 2014-15 campaign will prove to be an eye opening experience for him and if he can enter the season healthy, then that might go a long way towards him bouncing back.

If nothing else, expectations for him in 2015-16 will be tamer.