2021-22 season will be Coyotes’ last in Glendale after city ends arena deal

2021-22 season will be Coyotes' last in Glendale after city ends arena deal
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The Arizona Coyotes need a new home after the 2021-22 season. That’s clear after the City of Glendale announced that it will not renew its operating agreement with the Coyotes in an official Twitter thread.

Update: Both the Coyotes and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman wonder if there’s still room to work out an arena solution with Glendale. Read all about that in this post.

The City of Glendale stated that it aims for an “increased focus on larger, more impactful events and uses of the city-owned arena.”

Glendale City Manager Kevin Phelps expanded on the Coyotes arena decision with this statement:

Shortly before the City of Glendale made their Coyotes arena decision official, The Athletic’s Katie Strang broke the news (sub required).

Coyotes’ future, Arizona arena options unclear post-Glendale

Strang provides additional details about the situation, including money the Coyotes reportedly owed the City of Glendale.

According to a July 29 letter sent on behalf of Phelps to Chuck Steedman, executive vice president of strategy and development of ASM Global, and Dale Adams, the general manager of Gila River Arena, titled: “Re: Coyotes past due,” Phelps informed Steedman and Adams that the Coyotes owed $1,462,792 to the arena as of July 17. In the letter, obtained via a public-records request filed earlier this month, Phelps said that more than $300,000 of that amount is “over four months delinquent,” The letter also communicated previous late payments and forgiven debts from the prior season.

No doubt, this casts some doubt over the Coyotes’ future in the Phoenix/Arizona area.

That said, it’s also fair to note that, while the City of Glendale opted out of the arena lease agreement, the Coyotes displayed a history of having interest in moving away from Glendale.

There have been flirtations with games at other venues, including those connected to Arizona State University. Talks died down regarding a possible arena in Tempe, but have also bubbled up again.

During this offseason, the Coyotes focused primarily on cutting costs. They traded away the likes of Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Conor Garland. In several trades, they took on the last years of problem contracts for the likes of Loui Eriksson, Shayne Gostisbehere, Jay Beagle, and Antoine Roussel. By doing so, the Coyotes loaded up on future draft picks.

For a rebuilding team, it’s honestly not the worst strategy, at least in a vacuum.

Such strategies don’t exactly quiet rumors about Coyotes’ money troubles, however. Along with accusations of a toxic work environment, reports (including those of Strang) pointed to the Coyotes missing payments for signing bonuses.

Could a move to a different arena somewhere else in Arizona promote more stability? After more than a decade of people imagining the Coyotes relocating (perhaps to Quebec City, Houston, or another city), could it actually happen?

If history teaches us anything, it’s that we will need to wait for answers regarding the Coyotes’ arena-related future. It’s long felt like “The Song that Never Ends.” Maybe we’ll get firmer answers this time around, though?

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.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

Ilya Mikheyev
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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

caufield surgery
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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

matty beniers
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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.