Bettman, Coyotes aim to stay in Arizona, aren’t ruling out Glendale arena

Bettman, Coyotes aim to stay in Arizona, aren't ruling out Glendale arena
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The City of Glendale’s statement indicated that the Arizona Coyotes might need to find a new arena after the 2021-22 season. Yet, in responses, both the Coyotes and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman hint that there might still be some room to “negotiate” with Glendale.

Beyond that, the Coyotes and Bettman both indicated that the Coyotes plan to play in an arena in Arizona (ideally the Phoenix area), whether a Glendale solution happens or not.

If you’ve followed this endless Coyotes saga, you probably feel safe assuming one thing: it will probably just keep going.

Coyotes address Glendale Gila River Arena lease situation in statement

Coyotes president and CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez addressed the Glendale/Gila River Arena situation in the team’s official statement on Thursday.

“We are disappointed by today’s unilateral decision by the City of Glendale to break off negotiations on a multi-year lease extension agreement. We are hopeful that they will reconsider a move that would primarily damage the small businesses and hard-working citizens of Glendale. We remain open to restarting good-faith negotiations with the City.

“Most importantly, the Coyotes are one hundred percent committed to finding a long-term arena solution here in Arizona, and nothing will shake our determination to do what is right for our organization, residents of the entire Valley and, most important, our fans.”

Again, the key points are that the Coyotes hope Glendale will restart “good-faith negotiations” regarding using Gila River Arena, and if not, the team will try to stay in Arizona.

In particular, there have been rumblings about the Coyotes possibly moving to a Tempe arena at some point. Of course, such ideas fell through — just like many other hopes for this perpetually-struggling franchise.

Rule of thumb: it’s not ideal when the Arizona Republic runs a 25-year retrospective on your arena struggles, but that’s the reality of the once-Phoenix Coyotes.

Bettman wonders if Glendale is negotiating for better arena terms with Coyotes

During an appearance on WFAN 660, Gary Bettman discussed a number of issues. He talked up the Seattle Kraken, while expressing his reluctance for NHL players to participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Toward the end of that interview (around the 28-minute mark), Bettman emphasized that he isn’t worried about the Coyotes’ arena situation.

“First of all, I don’t think the Coyote franchise is going anywhere, I think the City of Glendale is negotiating,” Bettman said.

Bettman wonders if Glendale demanded that the Coyotes sign something along the lines of a 20-year lease, or they wouldn’t renew the Gila River Arena agreement.

Perhaps chalk this up to experience: Bettman’s seen many arena-related twists and turns for the Coyotes, including with Glendale. It was probably naive of anyone to wonder if there might be some sort of clarity after the 2021-22 season.

Instead, it seems like the drama will continue, even if it’s not exactly the sauciest soap opera. Instead, it’s mostly a bummer.

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

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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.