Getty

Vegas Golden Knights owner dishes on many subjects (including the Raiders)

10 Comments

Vegas Golden Knights owner Bill Foley covered a wide array of interesting topics in his discussion with Sports Book Radio’s Brian Blessing on Monday, including a bit of a shot at their possible future neighbors, the NFL’s Raiders.

The most important discussions revolved around how Foley expects the Golden Knights to come together … but let’s start with the spicier bulletin board material, transcribed nicely by Sin Bin Vegas.

“Our hockey team is locally owned, locally operated,” Foley said. “We are going to be the local team, the Raiders will never be the local team.”

Interesting.

Coaching talk

Foley sort of waffled back and forth on the coaching issue, espousing the virtues of jumping on an opportunity for one of the big names available while also noting that even more options could potentially crop up if they wait until the end of the season.

It sounds like the Golden Knights may be cautious about how much they’d spend on any option, which might reduce their chances of going after a more established name such as Claude Julien.

Building the team, when to expect success

It’s true that the Golden Knights could hatch some deals at this very trade deadline, possibly not to take a player at the expansion draft. Foley indicated that it might be difficult to be particularly busy, however.

He believes the team could grab good defensemen and goalies, but admits that grabbing a goalie might be “tough.”

If all of this is too vague for your taste, consider these timetables laid out by Foley and GM George McPhee: playoffs in three seasons, the big one in seven.

Interesting stuff, huh? There are plenty of other tidbits to chew on in this interview, so feel free to read Blessing’s full bit with Foley.

As the Canucks fall out of the playoff picture…decisions, decisions

Getty

The Vancouver Canucks were on a nice little run for a while there.

But that run is over now  — and given their remaining schedule, it’s going to be very tough for them to get back into a playoff spot.

Vancouver never stood a chance last night against the San Jose Sharks, who rolled into Rogers Arena, dominated the first period, then coasted to a 4-1 win.

“We were a little bit sluggish in the first,” Canucks forward Daniel Sedin told reporters. “After that I thought we played a good-enough game.”

But with just three wins in their last 10 games, the Canucks have fallen three points back of the second wild-card spot in the West. Vancouver doesn’t hold any games in hand on the St. Louis Blues, who got a big win last night in Mike Yeo’s debut behind the bench.

standings

Next up for the Canucks? A home game Saturday against the Central Division leaders from Minnesota, followed by six straight on the road against Nashville, Columbus, Boston, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis.

Yikes.

According to Sports Club Stats, Vancouver’s chances of making the playoffs have slipped to just 7 percent. To make the cut, the Canucks will need to go in the neighborhood of 17-10-4 down the stretch.

Not likely.

As far as the March 1 trade deadline is concerned, management has called it a “fluid” situation. The Canucks will in no way be in the market for rental players, but they have not ruled out making moves. And with the expansion draft on the horizon, that’s not going to quell speculation about veterans like Jannik Hansen and Alex Burrows.

Of course, Hansen and Burrows each have a no-trade clause, and GM Jim Benning vowed back in December that he wasn’t going to ask any of his players to waive their no-trades — even if the team is out of playoff contention at the deadline.

“There’s a couple reasons why I wanted to put it out there about not trading guys with no-trade contracts,” said Benning, per Canucks Army. “The first reason is I wanted to be honest with our players and fans about not asking players to waive their no-trade contracts. The other reason is I want to try to limit the unnecessary distractions so our players can focus on getting better and winning games.”

He added, “We’ve moved some no-trade contracts the last few years, but the players we have left are important veteran players who bring our team experience and leadership. We’re going to keep them.”

Benning did allow that if a player came to him and requested a trade to a contender, he’d try to facilitate a move. So that possibility remains. Burrows is a 35-year-old pending unrestricted free agent. He may relish a chance to win a Stanley Cup elsewhere.

Hansen, meanwhile, is signed through next season with an attractive cap hit of $2.5 million. The 30-year-old winger is an obvious trade candidate to many, given he’s on a team that can’t afford to lose assets for nothing in the expansion draft.

He wants to stay, though.

“I want to play here,” Hansen told The Province after Benning’s remarks in December. “I love being around the guys. I love the city and I want to win here. And I’ve been here for a very long time. It’s nice that you don’t have to speculate as to whether they’re going to come in five days or five weeks to ask you for a list of (trade) teams.”

So, it should be an interesting month. The Canucks had a disastrous deadline experience last year. The pressure’s on for management to avoid a repeat performance.

Rowe says no timeline on Barkov, who could be out a while longer

Getty

Aleksander Barkov was only supposed to miss 2-3 weeks with a then-undisclosed injury.

That timeline was provided almost three weeks ago, and Barkov still isn’t back playing for the Florida Panthers.

Today, interim coach Tom Rowe provided an update, and it wasn’t good news. Rowe told reporters on a conference call that there’s no timeline for Barkov’s return. He then dropped an even bigger bomb, admitting there’s concern that both Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau could have season-ending injuries.

The Panthers are still hopeful that Huberdeau will be back by early March. The 23-year-old hasn’t played at all this season after suffering a skate laceration in the preseason. His original timeline was 3-4 months.

The Panthers’ frustrating season continued last night in Edmonton, where they lost 4-3 in overtime on a Connor McDavid goal with 2.6 seconds remaining. Though they’re only one point back of a playoff spot, the closest two teams they’re chasing, Toronto and Ottawa, each have five games in hand.

It’s estimated that Florida (20-18-9) will need to go in the neighborhood of 20-10-5 down the stretch in order to make the playoffs. And that will obviously be a lot tougher to accomplish without two of the team’s best forwards — if, indeed, Barkov and Huberdeau are sidelined for much, or even all, of the remaining schedule.

Smith tears into Coyotes after ‘blah’ performance in Edmonton

Getty
4 Comments

Last night in Edmonton, the Arizona Coyotes did what they normally do.

They lost.

But unlike previous losses this season, this one felt different. And afterwards, their veteran goalie really let them have it.

“You could feel it on the ice,” Mike Smith said after the 3-1 defeat, per Reuters. “We were just playing, and it was blah. It was blah. And you can’t expect to play like that and compete against a really good hockey team. That’s what we did tonight. We have to learn from it. Sooner or later, this organization’s got to move forward and not continue to have games like this.”

At 13-24-6, the Coyotes are already out of the playoff race. It’s estimated they’d have to go in the neighborhood of 26-7-6 to qualify for the postseason, and that just isn’t going to happen.

Smith wasn’t alone in lambasting his team last night. The head coach, Dave Tippett, said it was “as poor as we’ve played” in the last month.

Suffice to say, it has been a disappointing season for the Coyotes. Though outside expectations were not particularly high for this group, they were much higher internally.

“Our team is looking to try and make the playoffs this year,” forward Max Domi said back in October. “We’re looking forward to the challenge and it’s going to be a lot of fun. The new faces are going to help us out a lot and some guys coming back are going to do the same things they did last year and more.”

Alas, the “new faces” have not been able to make the Coyotes competitive. Alex Goligoski was the big offseason addition. But the 31-year-old defenseman got off to a frustrating start with his new team, and though things have improved slightly since, the jury’s still out on the decision to give him a five-year contract worth $27.375 million.

In fact, Tippett singled out Goligoski and Michael Stone for this poorly timed line change that led to the Oilers’ first goal:

With pending unrestricted free agents in Shane Doan, Martin Hanzal, Radim Vrbata, Ryan White, and Stone, the Coyotes should be an interesting team to watch as the trade deadline approaches.

That being said, this is not an organization that needs more prospects, more draft picks. This is an organization that needs to start turning the corner.

“It’s a privilege to play in this league and put the Coyotes sweater on,” said an exasperated Smith. “I don’t know, I can’t explain it. I can talk for myself, and know that every game I go into I want to give myself the best chance to play at my best. And I can’t speak for anyone else, but we’ve got too many guys who aren’t doing enough to push this thing along.”

Related: Keller, Strome to meet in gold-medal game at World Juniors 

Stars end losing streak in typically sloppy fashion; Kopitar breaks a record

Getty

Win or lose, it’s rarely been easy for the Dallas Stars this season. It’s only fitting that they stumbled quite a bit before ending their latest losing streak.

The Stars carried a 3-1 lead into the third period, and it didn’t take long for things to get rocky in the final frame.

Dustin Brown made it 3-2 a little more than two minutes into the third period, sparking a 3-1 run by the Kings through about three minutes of action. Just like that, it was 4-4.

Jiri Hudler then chose a great time to score his first goal with the Stars, as it was the eventual game-winner for the Stars. Patrick Sharp ultimately added one more goal to lock up a 6-4 win for the Stars.

Again, it wasn’t pretty. You know it’s a flawed win – and a zany game – when both goalies make an appearance (and injuries weren’t involved).

And the Stars certainly have some work to do.

Kopitar continues night of milestones

In other news, Anze Kopitar scored his 247th goal – all with the Kings – to pass Wayne Gretzky on the team’s all-time goals list:

Tonight’s other milestones

Roberto Luongo goes alone for fifth all-time in goalie wins.

Alex Ovechkin ties Maurice Richard for goals, hit 999 points.