OTTAWA, ON - JANUARY 21: Jared Cowen #2 of the Ottawa Senators prepares for a faceoff against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Canadian Tire Centre on January 21, 2015 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)

Report: Leafs win arbitration case with Cowen

The Toronto Maple Leafs have won their arbitration case with Jared Cowen, who will remain bought out.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported the news today. It is a significant loss for Cowen, the 25-year-old defenseman who came to the Leafs in February as part of the Dion Phaneuf trade.

From Sportsnet’s story before the ruling:

At issue is whether Cowen was healthy enough to have the final year of his contract bought out by the Leafs last summer. A lengthy section of the CBA is devoted to “procedures for determining fitness to play,” and they include a player’s right to pursue a second medical opinion beyond what is provided by the team.

That information, plus witness testimony and other evidence, will be taken into account by the arbitrator while rendering a decision.

For Cowen, there is $3-million in salary at stake. That represents somewhere in the neighbourhood of 25 per cent of his career NHL earnings to date – a huge amount given his injury history and diminished future earning potential.

For the Leafs, it’s significant win. They’ll actually get a $650,000 cap credit this season. Next season, they’ll take a $750,000 hit, and after that their obligations are over.

If they’d lost, they would’ve lost the credit and assumed a $3.1-million cap hit this season, the final year of Cowen’s contract.

Sportsnet explains why the Leafs didn’t want to lose:

That’s a $3.75-million cap swing in total and would almost certainly result in the Leafs invoking long-term injury relief on one of three players – Nathan Horton, Stephane Robidas or Joffrey Lupul – to remain compliant.

Even though the LTI maneuver would offer immediate relief, it’s something the Leafs hope to avoid since it would increase the size of the cap overage penalty they’ll carry into next season because of performance bonuses expected to be earned by as many as five rookies in their current lineup.

Cowen had hip surgery after he was bought out. It’s been reported he may not be ready to play until February, assuming he can find a team. He played 37 games for the Senators last season, registering no goals and four assists.

Related: Lupul to start season on injured reserve, still aims to play again

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson joins Seattle arena group

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks warms up prior to the game against the San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field on September 25, 2016 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

There has been another twist in the ongoing Seattle arena story.

The day after leading his team to a win over the Patriots, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson announced via Twitter that he has joined Chris Hansen and his partners with the investment group working to build a brand new multi-purpose arena that could be the home for an NBA franchise or possibly an NHL expansion team in the city’s SoDo neighborhood.

“I’m excited to announce I’ve partnered w/ the Sonics Arena Group to help bring the @NBA & @NHL to the best fan base in the world,” Wilson tweeted from his verified account.

A Super Bowl champion with the Seahawks, Wilson’s star power and popularity with sports fans in that market could be a major boost to the investment group as it looks for permission from the city to move forward with this project.

The latest from King 5 News:

The Hansen group’s effort to build a new arena is currently in limbo, with the city council refusing to approve a street vacation in SODO that is needed for building the proposed arena. In the meantime, Mayor Ed Murray announced the city is seeking bids from groups to remodel Key Arena in Seattle Center, the former home of the Sonics.

When asked whether Wilson was expected to campaign at City Hall to get the project done, one source replied, “He is prepared to do that.”

Last month, in a major turn of events in this story, it was reported that Hansen and his investment group offered to forgo public funding for the arena project.

The very next day, another report from King 5 News stated that the mayor’s office was exploring the idea of renovating Key Arena, the old home of the Sonics before the team left Seattle.

Monday’s news certainly adds another element to this whole saga. It also shows the Hansen investment group is making a strong push to try to get something done with the city, which would be vital to the prospects of getting an NHL team in Seattle.

“We’re not paying a lot of attention to Seattle,” said commissioner Gary Bettman, per

“If they ever put a shovel in the ground and actually build a building instead of just talking about one we might pay attention. But it’s not something we’re monitoring. We’re not focusing on future expansion at this point and we’re not focusing on Seattle over anywhere else.”


Tim Leiweke could play role in redevelopment of Seattle’s KeyArena

Bettman rejects notion that the NHL is waiting for Seattle

The curious case of the Carolina Hurricanes

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA - OCTOBER 13: Cam Ward #30 of the Carolina Hurricanes makes a save off Shawn Matthias #16 of the Winnipeg Jets during NHL action on October 22, 2016 at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba. (Photo by Jason Halstead /Getty Images)

Maybe it’s their system.

Maybe it’s their goalies…or their defense…or their forwards.

Or maybe it’s just really, really bad luck.

Whatever it is, the Carolina Hurricanes are off to another tough start, and this start is looking a lot like last year’s start.

Recall last November when GM Ron Francis said of his 6-10-2 squad: “The frustrating thing for us is that in five of our losses we clearly were the better team but did not win.”

It’s a similar story this season. The ‘Canes are 3-5-4, dead last in the league, and in all five of their regulation losses, they ended up outshooting their opponents.


Which — you guessed it — brings us to the goaltending. Cam Ward was good last night in New Jersey, but on the season his save percentage is just .899. That’s better than Eddie Lack‘s disastrous .856 mark, but it’s still not very good.

Now, before we bash the goalies too much, consider what head coach Bill Peters had to say a couple of weeks ago after a 4-2 loss in Detroit:

“They had some odd-man rushes, a few we would like back. (There were) too many easy goals; too many soft plays.”

For example, this breakaway by Dylan Larkin:

And here’s Thomas Vanek getting wide open in the slot for a one-timer:

So it’s not all on the goalies. It never is.

But let’s face it, every team has defensive breakdowns, and that’s when the goaltender has to step up. Francis gambled when he brought Ward and Lack back, and right now it doesn’t look like a very smart gamble.

That’s the goaltending story. Let’s talk about the forwards now, because you have to score in order to win, and that’s another area where the ‘Canes and their 21st-ranked offense are again falling short.

Elias Lindholm has 27 shots, but no goals.

Sebastian Aho has 24 shots, but no goals.

Joakim Nordstrom has 17 shots, but no goals.

In fact, of all the NHL forwards who have yet to score a goal, three of the 10 with the most shots play for the Hurricanes.


Typically, we’d chalk this up to bad luck, and we’d say it was due to even out over the long run.

Except, as mentioned, the same sort of stuff happened last year, when the ‘Canes finished with the second-lowest shooting percentage (8.0%) in the league. This season, it’s slightly higher (8.5%), but not by much.

So, are the shooters not good enough at shooting? Are they not getting to the scoring areas? Is the system too conservative?

All good questions. We’re just not sure of the answers.

What we can say is this:

There’s a stat called PDO that combines shooting percentage with save percentage. It’s mostly used as a measure of luck, because over an 82-game season it’s expected to settle in the neighborhood of 100.

Last season, the highest PDO finished at 101.7, by the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Capitals, the lowest at 98.0, by the 30th-place Maple Leafs.

Here’s where the ‘Canes have ranked in PDO the last few years:

2012-13: 28th (97.9)
2013-14: 25th (99.1)
2014-15: 28th (97.4)
2015-16: 29th (98.2)
2016-17: 29th (95.9)

When it keeps happening, it’s probably not just bad luck.

So whatever it is, the ‘Canes need to figure it out, because the fan base is clearly tired of all the losing. Sunday against the Devils, just 8,650 bothered to show up to PNC Arena, and that’s not going to quell the relocation speculation.

Investor offers to build Seattle arena without public financing


From King 5 News in Seattle:

Chris Hansen and his investment team on Tuesday offered to forgo public financing to build a new sports arena in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood.

The group also said it would cover the current funding gap to build an overpass over Lander Street, a project long desired by freight and industrial interests concerned about congestion in around the Port of Seattle.

The proposal amounts to a stunning and swift turn in the nearly five-year debate over building a new arena and, ultimately, bringing a professional basketball and hockey team to the city.

Be sure to click on the story for all the details. These stories are rarely simple, and there’s still no guarantee that Hansen and his group will get permission to build their new arena.

But suffice to say, if a new arena does get built, Seattle will have a much better chance of landing an NHL franchise. Hansen has said he’s only interested in owning an NBA franchise, but back in 2014, billionaire Victor Coleman was reportedly working with Hansen to land an NHL tenant. It’s not clear if Coleman is still working with Hansen.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has said that Seattle is not a consideration for relocation or expansion until there’s a suitable arena.


— Bettman rejects notion that the NHL is waiting for Seattle

— Pacific Northwest will ‘get serious consideration’ for expansion or relocation


Stars release Fontaine, demote Honka

DENVER, CO - MARCH 26:  Justin Fontaine #14 of the Minnesota Wild skates against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on March 26, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. The Wild defeated the Avalanche 4-0.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

The Dallas Stars still have some decisions to make with 27 players on their training camp roster, but they got some work done on Sunday.

To the AHL: Julius Honka and Gemel Smith

Released from PTO: Justin Fontaine (pictured)

One cannot help but wonder if someone might take another look at Fontaine. He’s only 28 and has 197 NHL games under his belt, including 60 with the Minnesota Wild in 2015-16.

Honka stands out as the 14th pick of the 2014 NHL Draft. The Stars are transitioning to a younger defensive group, and one would assume that the Finn will be a key contributor sooner or later.

Honka has already showed promise at the AHL level, especially in 2015-16, when he generated 44 points in 73 games for the Texas Stars.

The team’s updated roster can be found here.