St. Louis Blues v Dallas Stars

Stars add Reese to goalie coaching mix, sign Jokipakka

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.


PHT Morning Skate: Subban crashes street hockey game


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.

P.K. Subban was in Montreal’s Westmount neighborhood on Sunday when he came across eight-year-old Jack Fraser and his friends playing street hockey. The 26-year-old Habs’ defenseman decided to join in and test Fraser’s goaltending skills. (Bar Down)

Blackhawks’ coach Joel Quenneville’s connection to Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. (The Canadian Press)

With Glen Sather unsure of whether he will return for the 2015-16 season, Adam Proteau writes it’s time for the 71-year-old to step aside. (THN)

Bolts, beer and sun: How Lightning fans watch Stanley Cup Final, outside arena walls. (Puck Daddy)

Elliotte Friedman’s 30 thoughts are always a must-read. (Sportsnet)

A couple of Tampa tattoo artists made the ultimate bet prior to Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. (Bar Down)

Thanks predominantly to Rocky Wirtz, Blackhawks popularity in Chicago is at an all-time high. (Toronto Sun)

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.

Report: John Cassaday to replace Tim Leiweke as MLSE president and CEO


According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, John Cassaday appears to be the man to replace out-going Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment president and CEO Tim Leiweke.

Leiweke, who joined MLSE in April 2013 on a reported five-year contract, is scheduled to leave the company on June 30.

MLSE is the parent company of the Toronto Maple Leafs among others.

Cassaday recently retired as president and CEO of Toronto-based radio and television broadcaster, Corus Entertainment.

“Cassaday is a proven leader,” said a person close to the MLSE board told TSN’s Rick Westhead in October. “He has handled a publicly traded company in Corus, its board and family ownership issues flawlessly. He is stable. A sure hand on the tiller. And he’s mature and knows how to manage divisions and factions within a company. And he’s Canadian and probably is looking for a change before he retires.”

Westhead reports Cassaday’s deal with MLSE could be in the neighborhood of $2.5 million per year, plus bonuses on a three-year deal.

Former Madison Square Garden executive Hank Ratner, NHL executive John Collins and former CFL Commissioner Mark Cohon were all reportedly candidates for the job.

MLSE chairman Larry Tanenbaum told The Globe and Mail “We’re close” when asked about naming a replacement for Leiweke on Thursday.

Cassaday could be announced as early as next week.

Columnist: NHL expansion fee may be too expensive for Seattle


As multiple groups attempt to get an arena built in the Seattle area in the hopes of luring an NHL franchise the expansion fee is an “overlooked item” causing problems according to Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times.

The expansion fee the NHL would demand is in the neighborhood of $500 million.

“Franchise values in all sports have been increasing rather dramatically,” Gary Bettman told Baker recently. “From your question, you seem to be inferring that that would be a lot of money for an NHL team. I happen to believe that that number — not that I’m confirming or denying it — would be not a lot of money.

“I think NHL franchises should be worth at least that much.”

Here’s more from Baker’s piece:

It’s one reason Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has yet to receive an “NHL first” plan from Sodo builder Chris Hansen that “pencils out” financially. Also, it’s why skeptical eyes are now on Tukwila arena builder Ray Bartoszek, wondering where his money will come from.

A good arena costs $500 million before factoring in teams that actually draw the paying customers.

Bartoszek can talk all he wants about getting his arena built first and worrying later about paying for teams. But when the cheapest of those — the hockey team — costs $500 million, that’s a billion-dollar investment before Bartoszek can hope to make money.

Last week Hansen’s group received the “green light” to build an arena; however, the city’s plan to financially back the arena appears to be falling apart.