Glendale city council approves $25 million payment to NHL to keep Coyotes for another year

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For the second straight year, the Glendale City Council is picking up the check to keep the Coyotes in town.

After a 5-2 vote, the city council approved to pay up $25 million to the NHL to help cover losses while they league continues to work out a deal with prospective buyer Matthew Hulsizer or anyone else willing to pony up the money needed to buy the team.

The decision by the city council means the Coyotes aren’t going anywhere next season and will play another season in the desert. For the fans in Glendale and around Phoenix, their team is saved for another year. It’ll make for another year in limbo for the team if they cannot get a deal done with Hulsizer. The NHL and Hulsizer continue to try and haggle out a deal with the City of Glendale over bond issues to help subsidize Hulsizer’s purchase of the team but the opposition from the Goldwater Institute over the use of city tax money to make it happen has made it difficult to get anything done.

That fight will get to continue on unless a different means can be worked out that satisfies Goldwater’s problems with the arrangement. Members of the city council who voted to approve the deal slammed Goldwater claiming they were standing up against the deal to prop up their own agenda.

What this means now is that the very patient group from Winnipeg headed up by David Thomson and True North will either have to sweat out the next year in hopes that the Coyotes can’t get a deal done and then perhaps, finally, get to take back the team that once called Winnipeg home.

Their more likely scenario, however, probably points them in the direction of the moribund Atlanta Thrashers. The Thrashers ownership problems and the team’s lack of a following in Atlanta has drawn the attention of the league. While the Atlanta Spirit group continues to struggle to find local investors willing to keep the team in Georgia, a process that’s gone on now for six years, Thomson could get a “booby prize” in being allowed to purchase the Thrashers and take them north.

That much is all speculative for now but commissioner Gary Bettman knows he’s got a very wealthy potential owner waiting in the wings in Thomson. With two teams feeling the bite to get a new owner and failing financially in two big American cities, the pressure might be on to solve the money drain with at least the Thrashers when there’s a prospective owner with deep pockets ready to step in.

For now, fans in Glendale and Arizona can celebrate keeping their team, but another year living on the edge with a team that can’t break the bank to spend for free agents thanks to the league owning them and an ownership situation that’s still unsolved, reliving the same nightmare over and over again may just start to wear the fans out.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.