Former Glendale mayor rips NHL, Coyotes in blistering letter


The former mayor of Glendale is mad as hell at the NHL and the Arizona Coyotes, and she wrote a letter to Arizona lawmakers to say why.

“Strong emotions rushed through me as I read the recent haughty comments from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Coyotes Owner Andrew Barroway regarding their personally motivated announcement of the absolute impossibility of hockey succeeding in Glendale,” wrote Elaine Scruggs in a letter addressed to State Senator Steve Yarbrough and Speaker of the House J.D. Mesnard.

“As the former Mayor of Glendale who had a front row seat for many of the City’s dealings with the NHL and the Coyotes, I cannot sit silently as they mislead the Arizona Legislature and unabashedly insult the community I love.”

Scruggs’ letter is a response to Bettman’s recent letter to state lawmakers pleading support for a bill that would help the Coyotes fund the construction of a new arena in Greater Phoenix.

“The simple truth?” Bettman wrote. “The Arizona Coyotes must have a new arena location to succeed. The Coyotes cannot and will not remain in Glendale.”

To which Scruggs asserts: a “great deal of fast-talking and fuzzy math” have come from Bettman, Barroway, and Coyotes president and CEO Anthony LeBlanc.

“Disregard the fact that the team ranks last in the NHL in hockey spending, continually trades away top talent while it annually ‘builds for the future,’ and spends next to nothing to market the team. I will say what they will not: the Coyotes position at the bottom of the standings is a leadership problem, not a location problem,” Scruggs writes.

“The facts are easy to verify. Before the Coyotes moved out of downtown Phoenix they ranked 29th in attendance out of the league of 30 teams. Their first year in the Glendale Arena they ranked 19th in attendance. Attendance stayed in that tier until the floundering team started losing their disappointed fans’ support.

“Now the NHL and the Coyotes’ ownership group have hitched their wagons to a new scheme: Senate Bill 1149. After receiving hundreds of millions of dollars from Glendale, the NHL and Coyotes ownership are asking a much larger group of Arizona taxpayers for $225 million in public funding for another new arena. It’s the only way to make hockey work in Arizona, they tell us (again). This is the only solution, they say; this is what will make hockey thrive.

“They say a lot of things.”

It is a blistering letter, and you can read the whole thing here.

Related: Report: Coyotes’ arena financing plan in trouble

Schneider wants to have that ‘playoff feeling’ again


The New Jersey Devils are going to miss the playoffs for a fifth straight season, and Cory Schneider isn’t getting any younger.

Schneider, who turns 31 later this month, has been one of the NHL’s best regular-season goalies of the past decade. Yet after backing up Roberto Luongo in Vancouver and then getting traded to New Jersey in the summer of 2013, he only has six career postseason starts to his name.

“I came from very successful years in Vancouver,” Schneider told NorthJersey.com recently. “The success we had was tough to match. When you’re early in your career, that’s all you expect.”

He added, “That feeling, the playoff feeling, it’s the best feeling there is. I made a commitment here because I felt this team had a good, long-range plan and future and I still believe that. I’m a guy who wants to be part of the solution.”

Schneider is signed through 2021-22, so it’s not like the Devils are in danger of losing him. But with a goalie of his caliber, even though his numbers are down this season, there has to be a real sense of urgency in the organization to right the ship, and right it fairly soon.

Unfortunately, while the past few drafts have added some decent prospects to the system, the Devils do not appear on the verge of a dramatic turnaround. Currently, they’re on a nine-game losing streak. Their most recent defeat came at the hands of the Colorado Avalanche, the worst team in the league.

Schneider said he’s had “no indication from anybody that I’m not a part of the solution here,” but if GM Ray Shero were to shop his starter, there would be considerable interest, to say the least.

“That’s a conversation you can have at the end of the year,” said Schneider, who does have a no-trade clause in his contract.

‘Absolutely ridiculous’ — Voracek frustrated with no Olympic deal


It’s no secret that NHL players want to go to the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. They haven’t been shy about saying so.

Yesterday, Flyers forward Jakub Voracek really wasn’t shy about saying so.

“Absolutely ridiculous,” Voracek said, per CSN Philly. “We have it once every four years. I read something that (NHL deputy commissioner) Bill Daly said we’re not going. Nobody wants you to go. The players want to go. Why you’re saying you’re not going? You’re not part of the players’ association. … Nobody wants you there. They want the players.”

The last Olympic update that commissioner Gary Bettman shared was not all that encouraging.

“There’s absolutely nothing new,” Bettman said Wednesday, per NHL.com. “I think the overwhelming sentiment of the teams is that it’s very disruptive on the season, and there’s somewhere between fatigue and negativity on the subject.”

But Bettman refused to set a deadline to make a decision one way or the other, so there’s still time to get something done.

According to outspoken agent Allan Walsh, Voracek’s remarks were “just the beginning.”

Presumably, Walsh meant that other players will soon be speaking up, and speaking up loudly, just like Voracek did yesterday.

“The players want to go, I guarantee you that,” said Voracek, who represented the Czech Republic at the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia. “I want to see how you are going to hold [Alex] Ovechkin back. The Russian players. Tell them they can’t go.”

Related: IOC chief calls it a priority for NHLers to be at Olympics

The Isles’ epic nine-game road trip is almost over


It’s nearly over.

After tomorrow’s game in St. Louis, the New York Islanders can finally head home.

The Isles played their eighth straight road game last night in Vancouver, where they beat the Canucks, 4-3, in overtime. With the win, they improved to 5-2-1 in those eight games. Even if they lose to the Blues, the lengthy stretch away from Brooklyn — which was split into one three-game trip, and another six-game trip — can be deemed a success.

Granted, it was not a very impressive performance against the lowly Canucks, who ended up outshooting the Isles, 39-28. A goal by Vancouver rookie Troy Stecher sent the game to overtime with 19.3 seconds left.

“It wasn’t a great game,” captain John Tavares told reporters. “They came out hard. They’re playing desperate and threw everything at us. We did a good job of giving ourselves an opportunity to win. Unfortunate to give up one late, but good perseverance overcoming the way we played today and getting a big goal in overtime.”

With the two points, the Isles stayed just ahead of Toronto for the second wild-card spot in the East. The Maple Leafs had temporarily moved into that wild-card spot with a win over the Flyers.

“There’s going to be games every night when teams are going to win that are right around us,” said the Isles’ overtime hero, Andrew Ladd, per Newsday. “We just have to keep winning games. We know what’s ahead of us.”

In a slightly cruel twist, the Isles only return home for one game, Monday against the Hurricanes. Then they have to get right back on a plane to play the next night in Carolina.

After that, they get to go home again.

Drafted a decade ago, DiDomenico will finally make NHL debut

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Drafted in 2007 by the Toronto Maple Leafs, Chris DiDomenico will finally make his NHL debut tonight for the Ottawa Senators.

For the 28-year-old forward, it’s been quite the journey to the top league in the world. During his pro career, he’s played for Toledo of the ECHL. He even went to Italy for a couple of years.

Signed last month out of the Swiss league, DiDomenico will make his Senators debut against the Coyotes in Arizona.

From the Ottawa Citizen:

It has been a long road for DiDomenico, who suffered a broken femur and knee in his final year of junior hockey, playing for current Senators coach Guy Boucher with Drummondville of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

“For him, it’s his first NHL game and he’s going to be nervous,” Boucher told reporters. “Don’t try to do too much. He’s got great hockey sense. He’ll know what to do with the puck. He’s just got to make sure he knows where he’s going defensively and he’s like everyone else, paying the price, and he’ll be fine.”

Related: The Sens are feeling good about their system