‘It was a blast’: Sheldon Souray writes emotional retirement letter

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In a letter authored for the Players’ Tribune, retired NHL defenseman Sheldon Souray reminisced about the players, personalities, executives and family members that helped shape his playing career, which has officially come to a close.

He also discussed how he finally got his big break in hockey as a teenager, following a brawl during his minor hockey days in Alberta and how that led him to play in neighboring British Columbia.

From the Players’ Tribune:

I could thank a million more people for making my life so special. I knew this had been coming for a long time, but when I woke up the first morning after officially announcing my retirement, I definitely had a heavy heart. It’s not the spotlight that I’m going to miss. It’s the moments of tedium spent with the boys. When I’m 70 years old and looking back on this wild life, I don’t think I’ll get nostalgic about skating out in front of 20,000 people, as cool as it was. But I will get a little misty for the times me and a few of the boys broke curfew after a terrible loss in Minnesota and sat around the hotel room with a case of beer, trying to solve the world’s problems.

It went fast. It was a blast. I can’t believe it happened.

I was just a wannabe who got to be. What a ride.

Armed with a wicked slap shot, Souray played 758 regular season games in the NHL, scoring 109 goals and 300 points. He also played in 40 Stanley Cup playoff games, scoring three goals and 11 points.

His last NHL game came on May 12, 2013. That summer, he suffered a torn wrist ligament that eventually required surgery the following year.

Expansion process underway as NHL sends out applications

OTTAWA, ON - APRIL 26:  NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman addresses the media prior to Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Canadian Tire Centre on April 26, 2015 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. The Montreal Canadiens eliminated the Ottawa Senators by defeating them 2-0 and move to the next round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
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It’s on, per TSN:

The NHL began distribution of application materials for parties interested in expansion on Monday. They are due back to the league by August 10. The fee to apply for an expansion franchise is seven figures – north of $1 million U.S. – and only a portion is refundable.

On top of that, interested parties must demonstrate the ability to pay an expansion fee north of $500 million, prove the viability of their proposed market and evidence the availability of an arena for the team to call home.

Here’s a quick rundown of some groups believed to be interested…

Las Vegas: Spearheaded by owner Bill Foley and the Maloof family, the Las Vegas Wants Hockey group has already orchestrated a successful ticket drive — reportedly receiving cash deposits for 13,200 season tickets — and has a place to play, with the MGM-AEG arena project to be completed next spring. Vegas is the frontrunner for an expansion franchise.

Quebec City: One day after the NHL confirmed it would begin its formal expansion review process, Quebecor — a Canadian media company based out of Montreal — said it would submit an application for expansion.

More, from the Quebecor release:

Quebecor will be the manager of the Videotron Centre for the next 25 years. The state-of-the-art facility in Québec City, which seats 18,259 for hockey, is set to officially open in September 2015. It was designed to meet NHL standards.

TVA Sports, owned by Quebecor, has been the NHL’s official French-language broadcaster since the beginning of the 2014-15 season under a 12-year agreement.

Quebec City has the building and support, but would further imbalance the Eastern-Western Conference setup. There are also potential issues surrounding ownership (see here) and the unstable Canadian dollar.

Toronto: Graeme Roustan, a venture capitalist and biggest shareholder in the company that owns Bauer and Easton, also threw his hat in the ring one day after the NHL’s announcement. Roustan had previously tried to build an NHL-caliber arena in the Toronto suburb of Markham, as part of his long-standing desire to bring a second NHL team to the GTA.

“I will definitely be making an application on behalf of the [Greater Toronto Area],” Roustan told the Hockey News. “I’ve always believed that a second NHL team in Toronto would flourish and I’ve been preparing since 2010 for this possibility.”

More:

Roustan said he will look at all possibilities in the GTA for an arena, including revisiting the possibility of going to Markham. When asked if that would include the possibility of playing out of the Air Canada Centre, the home of the Toronto Maple Leafs, perhaps as a temporary measure, Roustan said, “We’re going to look at every opportunity to have a franchise in the GTA and if that means a possible temporary location, so be it.”

The NHL has always insisted that the Leafs have no veto on a second Toronto team.

Seattle: Per TSN, the league is expecting to receive “one — if not multiple — applications from prospective groups in the Seattle market.” One group’s already thrown its hat in the ring — the one headed by former Glencore oil trader Ray Bartoszek, who is aiming to build an arena in the Seattle suburb of Tukwila.

The other group tied to Seattle expansion, Chris Hansen’s SoDo neighborhood arena project, still appears to be in limbo regarding the arena’s first tenant. There were talks that construction could get underway with a revised memorandum for an NHL-first team instead of NBA-first but, in May, Hansen said he’d yet to receive a formal offer for an NHL club.

It’s worth noting that NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league has also received interest from Portland and Milwaukee. Kansas City, a market some thought would make a formal expansion application, is now expected not to.

Report: Bieksa was looking at homes in San Jose

bieksa angry face
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How close were the Canucks and Sharks to pulling off a trade involving Kevin Bieksa?

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Bieksa and his family recently visited San Jose and looked at homes.

Bieksa waived his no-trade clause to allow for a trade to the Bay Area, but the Canucks and Sharks reportedly could not come to an agreement on which year Vancouver would receive a second round pick.

Friedman reports that executives told him that Bieksa was seeking an extension in the neighborhood of three-years, $12 million because he doesn’t want to uproot his family twice (he’s a UFA after next season).

There are reportedly 10 teams still interested in the defenseman’s services.

Bieksa appeared in 60 games with the Canucks during the 2014-15 season scoring four goals and 14 points while averaging nearly 21 minutes a night in ice time.

The 34-year-old has one year remaining on his five-year, $23 million contract with a cap hit of $4.6 million.

Report: Flames’ Giordano seeking an extension worth $9 million per season

Mark Giordano
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Preliminary contract negotiations between the Calgary Flames and captain Mark Giordano have begun, according to TSN’s Frank Seravalli.

Seravalli’s sources have indicated that the initial asking price from Giordano’s agent Ritch Winter is in the neighborhood of $9 million per season.

Giordano is heading into the final year of his five-year, $20.1 million contract, which carries an annual average value of $4.02 million.

Based on Seravalli’s sources, Giordano’s camp is seeking more than double his current AAV on a new deal.

The 31-year-old finished sixth in Norris Trophy voting this season despite missing the final 21 games due to injury. He finished 10th in Norris Trophy voting following the 2013-14 season.

In 61 games during the 2014-15 season Giordano registered a career highs in assists (37) and points (48) while averaging 25:10 a night in ice time.

“I would say they’re preliminary talks at this point. I think they’re going well,” Giordano said. “Our goal is to have something done before the start of the season. I’ve spent my entire career in Calgary and I’d love to stay there. It’s my home.”

Giordano is eligible to sign an extension of eight years come July 1.

“I’ve said it since last season: signing Gio is a big priority for us,” Flames’ GM Brad Treliving said. “We love what he brings. He is a great person and a great leader for our team. We’re hoping to have something done before camp opens.”

Stars add Reese to goalie coaching mix, sign Jokipakka

St. Louis Blues v Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars really struggled in net (and in preventing goals in general last season), but they took further measures to improve in that area on Monday.

In an interesting twist, the Stars hired Jeff Reese as goalie coach as expected, yet they’re not parting ways with Mike Valley. Instead, Valley will work under the title director of goaltending development.

ESPN’s Craig Custance was impressed by the Stars’ creativity there:

The only “salary cap” for coaching is a team’s own budget, after all, so why not add more keen minds on that subject?

Of course, improving on defense would also make life easier for the Stars’ goalies, and they also kept a young defenseman in the fold. Amusingly named blueliner Jyrki Jokipakka received a two-year contract today. Jokipakka (pictured) played 51 games with the Stars last season, collecting 10 assists and a -2 rating. He also managed five points in 19 games at the AHL level. It seems like he might show more potential than his draft status (195th overall in 2011) may have initially indicated.

Stars GM Jim Nill still has some work to do to ensure that the Stars’ defense starts to catch up with its blistering offense, yet this counts as a step or two in the right direction.