Montreal Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien, right, shares a laugh with P.K. Subban during a practice Monday, April 13, 2015 in Brossard, Quebec. The Canadiens will face the Ottawa Senators in game one of the first round of NHL playoffs on Wednesday. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP)
AP

Therrien insists he has a ‘very good relationship’ with Subban

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Two days after blaming P.K. Subban for a loss to Colorado, Montreal coach Michel Therrien insisted he has a “very good relationship” with the Canadiens’ star defenseman.

Therrien even called Subban a “lovable guy,” while maintaining that his remarks were never about the player, they were solely about the play.

“I would’ve said that about any player making that play at that time of the game,” Therrien told reporters today, per TSN.ca. “We’re very aware we have an exceptional athlete. We’re happy to have him. It’s our job to continue working with him.”

There does, however, continue to be a disconnect between what the coach thought about the play and what the player thought. Unlike Therrien, Subban did not consider it overly risky.

“I was in a strong position,” he said, per Sportsnet’s Eric Engels. “I wasn’t in a weak position. If I don’t lose my edge there, I think I probably bump the guy and put it down the wall.”

As an outsider, it’s impossible to say what the relationship between Therrien and Subban is really like. Likewise, it’s impossible to say if GM Marc Bergevin would really consider trading the 26-year-old.

But even an outsider can see, quite clearly, that this is a team in crisis. The Canadiens started the season 18-4-2. Since then, they’ve gone 9-23-2 and have fallen eight points out of a playoff spot.

According to Sports Club Stats, the Habs — who are unlikely to get Carey Price back — would need to go in the neighborhood of 16-6-2 in their final 24 games to give themselves a shot at the postseason.

Failing that, well, let’s just say April’s exit interviews could be interesting.

WATCH LIVE: Anaheim Ducks at Los Angeles Kings

The New York Islanders and Washington Capitals are near the end of their competitive game, but that won’t end a strong night of hockey on NBCSN.

Nope, you’re getting a doubleheader on Thursday, and it ends with a battle of California as the Los Angeles Kings host the Anaheim Ducks.

You can watch these bitter neighbors on TV and also via the link below.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Melnyk says he won’t sell the Senators ‘at any price’

OTTAWA - OCTOBER 8:   Ottawa Senators team owner Eugene Melnyk attends an event before the home opener against the New York Islanders at Scotiabank Place on October 8, 2009 in Ottawa, Canada.  The Ottawa Senators defeated the New York Islanders 3-2 in overtime.  (Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)
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In case you didn’t hear him the first time, Eugene Melnyk repeated it yesterday — the Ottawa Senators are not for sale.

“I don’t have any intention of selling the team at any price,” Melnyk said. “I have no intention of moving into anyone else’s place.”

Why does he keep having to say this?

The answer is LeBreton Flats. There are two proposals to develop the Ottawa neighborhood — one backed by the Sens, the other by some very wealthy businessmen from Quebec.

Both proposals include an NHL arena.

From the Ottawa Citizen:

The battle to develop LeBreton Flats is shaping up as a fight between a team with deep roots in Ottawa and an ambitious and creative group bankrolled by wealthy outsiders.

That, at least, was one narrative that emerged Tuesday after the RendezVous LeBreton Group, which includes Senators Sports & Entertainment, and the Devcore Canderel DLS Group, backed by Quebec billionaires André Desmarais and Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté, unveiled their visions for the long-vacant land just west of Ottawa’s core.

Despite Melnyk’s insistence that 1) the Sens aren’t for sale “at any price” and 2) he has no interest in moving into an arena he doesn’t control, the DCDLS group has not yet been dissuaded.

“Our intention is to have discussions with Mr. Melnyk, whatever those may be, with respect to the Senators moving downtown,” said vice-president Daniel Peritz. “We believe firmly that’s where they should be.”

Click here to watch Peritz suggest that Melnyk is bluffing about his unwillingness to sell the team, which Melnyk quickly denies.

Melnyk, for the record, is no longer involved in horse-racing

Extension talks begin between Bruins, Eriksson (who may be pricey)

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The good news is that Loui Eriksson has finally been the quality forward the Boston Bruins were hoping for when they traded for him in that Tyler Seguin deal.

The bad news for the Bruins is that Eriksson’s pulling off this strong work in the final year of his current contract.

Eriksson and the Bruins have begun early contract extension negotiations, according to reporters including ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun and TSN’s Darren Dreger.

If Dreger’s sources are correct, Eriksson’s initial asking price is pretty steep: a five or six-year contract in the neighborhood of $6 million per season (so $30 million or $36 million overall).

Eriksson turns 31 in July, so that term could be risky, and that cap price could make it awfully tough to re-sign Torey Krug (contract expires after this season) and the likes of Brad Marchand (his expires following the 2016-17 campaign).

Granted, opening contract requests are designed to be at the extremes for both sides, so this wouldn’t be the absolute asking price … although Eriksson could likely command a pretty penny in unrestricted free agency.

Actually, that’s another concern for Boston. They may need to figure out if they can re-sign him; if not, they may opt to move him during the trade deadline to avoid losing Eriksson for nothing.

LeBrun discussed as much:

Very preliminary contract discussions have begun between the Bruins and pending unrestricted free agent winger Loui Eriksson. The 30-year-old is enjoying a fine season and is second on the Boston Bruins in scoring. But whether or not the Bruins and his agent J.P. Barry find common ground on an extension before the Feb. 29 trade deadline remains to be seen.

Long story short, the Bruins have some big choices to make when it comes to Eriksson.

‘John leaves a lasting mark’: NHL announces Collins’ departure as COO

John Collins

One of the driving forces behind the NHL’s growth over the last decade is moving on.

John Collins, who’s served as the league’s chief operating officer for the last seven years, will be leaving his post to embark on a new business opportunity.

More, from the League:

Collins, who joined the NHL in November 2006, had been COO since August 2008.

“John leaves a lasting mark,” said Commissioner Bettman. “His energy, creativity and skill at building strategic partnerships helped drive significant revenue growth for our League. We are grateful for his many contributions and wish him the best in his new endeavors.”

Said Collins, “I’m grateful to Commissioner Bettman for his leadership and friendship over the past nine years. He had a vision for extending the reach of the NHL and supported us completely as we set out to make the game as big as it deserves to be.

“The NHL’s future is filled with promise and potential and I will admire and cheer the League’s successes to come on the global stage.”

Collins, 53, was regarded as one of main presences behind a number of the NHL’s most successful initiatives, including the Winter Classic and Stadium Series, the HBO 24/7 collaboration, the relaunched World Cup of Hockey, Canadian and American television deals and partnerships with companies like SAP, Adidas, Major League Baseball Advanced Media and GoPro.

During Collins’ tenure, the NHL was twice named “Sports League of the Year” by the SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily — once in 2011, and again in 2014.