Bettman: Seattle will host NHL draft, All-Star weekend

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SEATTLE — On his first trip to Seattle since the city was granted the NHL’s 32nd franchise, Commissioner Gary Bettman announced a couple more rewards for the future franchise’s investment.

Bettman said the league has promised Seattle it will host All-Star weekend within its first seven seasons, with the team slated to begin play in 2021-22. Bettman also says Seattle will host the NHL draft, and that event will likely be awarded before the All-Star Game arrives.

”It doesn’t mean we are going to wait seven years,” Bettman said. ”We’re going to be bringing league events here. This is where we want to be.”

Bettman’s unexpected and informal announcement was part of his first visit to Seattle since the franchise was approved by the league’s Board of Governors in early December. Bettman met with members of the ownership group, political leaders in the city, fans who have placed deposits on season tickets and reviewed the status of the massive renovation of the arena at Seattle Center where the team will play.

Seattle’s ownership group has put up over $1.5 billion in expansion fees, upgrades to the building formerly known as KeyArena, and a state-of-the-art practice facility that is expected to open in time to host the first training camp.

”If you talk about in terms of kicking the tires, the tires are in great shape,” Bettman said. ”We couldn’t be more excited. When the board made the decision to come to Seattle, we knew it was the right decision, it would be a great decision and everything that has transpired has not only lived up to expectation but has exceeded our expectations.”

The franchise initially hoped to open for the 2020 season, but it is using the additional year to ensure the arena is operational well ahead of the team’s home opener. It also gives the team more time to put together its hockey staff.

The team still doesn’t have a name or color scheme. Bettman said the league would mostly stay out of the selection process, aside from working with the Seattle franchise in colors, trademarks and other logistical parts of the expansion name. Seattle team president and CEO Tod Leiweke said the goal is to have a name announced by the middle of 2019. The franchise will be taking major input from fans that have put deposits down on season tickets.

Leiweke said the team’s goal is to have a portal launched within the next 60 days for season-ticket depositors to provide feedback and to inform them of the timeframe for decisions and announcements moving forward.

”If I have my way, their fingerprints are going to be all over this franchise. Certainly a team name, but they’re going to help us build this,” Leiweke said.

Some fans are hoping to see a return of the Seattle Metropolitans – a historic name in Seattle, since the Metropolitans won the Stanley Cup in 1917. That name might be off the table, though, since the NHL has a division with that name.

Bettman was asked if that name can be ruled out.

”Viscerally, yes,” he said, ”but I never say never to anything.”

Ref pushing Blues’ Barbashev gives us some comic relief

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In these trying times, sometimes you just need to see a zany mishap where a hockey player loses a skate blade, and hilarity ensues.

OK, that might be highly specific, but such bits of bad luck usually do provide some real comedy. Even by those standards, this was some good stuff, as Blues forward Ivan Barbashev got a boost from an on-ice official, and it was quite a boost down the ice.

You can watch that moment in the video above this post’s headline, and likely have a nice chuckle.

The Blues ended up beating the Ottawa Senators 3-2 on Saturday, so Barbashev & Co. can share a bigger laugh after the game.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Bruins’ Rask helped off ice after huge collision

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Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask needed help off of the ice – and took quite a while to leave the ice – after a frightening collision with New York Rangers forward Filip Chytil.

Moments after this post went up on Saturday, the Bruins provided an unsettling – if, sadly, not surprising – update that Rask suffered a concussion and will not return to the game.

You can see the collision (and get an idea of how long it took Rask to leave the ice) in the video above this post’s headline.

This is the Bruins’ final game before the All-Star break, and they won’t play again until they host the Winnipeg Jets in Boston on Jan. 29, so at least there isn’t much pressure for Rask to rush back to action too soon.

Rask began the game tied with Tiny Thompson at 252 wins, the most in Bruins’ franchise history.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Erik Karlsson misses Sharks game on Saturday

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Considering how much Erik Karlsson has been heating up along with the San Jose Sharks lately, it would have been fun to see him skate against the Tampa Bay Lightning, a team that once tried to acquire him.

That’s not happening on Saturday, as Karlsson was a late scratch for the game.

The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz reports that Karlsson was “limping noticeably” and favoring his left side following the Sharks’ 6-3 loss to the Coyotes on Wednesday. Kurz also reports that Karlsson hasn’t participated in practice or pregame skates for about a week.

Paul Gackle of the Mercury News points out that Karlsson was held out for most of the third period of Tuesday’s 5-2 win against the Penguins for “precautionary reasons,” yet Sharks coach Peter DeBoer indicated that the 28-year-old was expected to play on Saturday. Instead, Karlsson must have determined that he wasn’t good to go after skating a bit during warm-ups.

Saturday’s game against the Lightning marks the second of a four-game road trip. The Sharks are set to play against the Panthers in Florida on Monday (Jan. 21) and the Capitals in Washington on Tuesday (Jan. 22), then they’ll be off for the All-Star break.

Karlsson was one of the Sharks’ three selections to the 2019 NHL All-Star Game, but we’ll see if what seems like a lower-body injury ends up sidelining him from the event. Either way, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Swede miss at least one of the Sharks’ remaining two games before the break, considering that it’s a back-to-back set.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic is also out with an injury, so the Sharks are limping – can Sharks limp? – a bit into that run of off time.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Hurricanes’ Brind’Amour latest coach to put his team on blast

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Sure, you can have a high-up team executive call you out and compare you to horse excrement.

That’s one thing.

But when your coach, who is nearly a decade removed from playing his last NHL game, contemplates dressing because his team is that bad, that’s another.

And then to top it all off, that coach then apologies to a newly-acquired player on behalf of the team that he coaches.

That stings.

We’ve seen a couple of outbursts this year that haven’t been seen in some time — if ever.

Carolina Hurricanes legend Rod Brind’Amour is the latest to eviscerate his team publicly in what seems to be the in-fashion way to get the message across these days.

Who can forget Jim Lites’ tirade in Dallas?

Or Bruce Boudreau’s rant?

Or David Quinn putting his team on blast earlier this week?

Now you can add Brind’Amour to the list.

“We were so bad, I almost dressed and got out there,” Brind’Amour said after the Hurricanes fell 4-1 to the Ottawa Senators on Friday. “I might have been as good as what we were throwing out there. We just didn’t want to play the way we were supposed to. I didn’t know what I was watching. That’s the first time all year I can say that.”

If that wasn’t the kill shot, Brind’Amour then feeling the need to apologize to Nino Niederreiter certainly was.

The latter was picked up in a trade earlier this week for Victor Rask. In his first game, his new teammates crapped the proverbial bed.

“Good. I thought he was fine,” Brind’Amour said about Niederreiter’s debut. “He had a couple chances. I think the first shift he almost had a breakaway. … I apologized to him for that effort. That’s not our team, and that’s his first game.”

It’s not often you hear about that sort of thing.

The Hurricanes had won seven-of-eight before dropping a 6-2 decision to the New York Rangers and Friday’s loss to the visiting Senators.

The Hurricanes are now nine points adrift from the final wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck