Report: Duchene could start next season with Avs


If you’ve been wondering why Matt Duchene is still a member of the Colorado Avalanche, here’s an update from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman:

Everyone decided to take a deep breath and go back to their corners when Matt Duchene wasn’t traded July 1. It sounds like everyone is realizing the possibility he could start next season in Colorado. But remember this: Avalanche assistant GM Chris MacFarland was with Scott Howson in Columbus when Howson waited until July 20, 2012, to trade Rick Nash. Sometimes the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour, and MacFarland could be following that blueprint. I wouldn’t be surprised if interested parties (Boston, Columbus, Nashville, Pittsburgh, maybe Calgary) try again to see if anything shakes loose.

Friedman goes on to say that Duchene’s contract, which has two years left on it, could be a stumbling block.

We’ve written about that in the past. If Duchene only had one year left, an acquiring team could immediately sign him to an extension, like when the Avs traded Ryan O’Reilly to Buffalo.

But with two years left, it’s more complicated because an extension can’t be signed until next summer. That means an acquiring team would have to trust that Duchene wanted to stay long-term. And even if he said he did, there’d still be a risk he could change his mind.

Another factor in all this is that the Avs absolutely have to nail this deal. Certainly, they need to do better than what they got for O’Reilly.

To illustrate, it’s been reported that the Columbus Blue Jackets offered defenseman Ryan Murray to Colorado as part of a package for Duchene.

With all due respect to Murray, the second overall draft pick in 2012, he is not the franchise defenseman the Jackets had hoped he’d be. If the Avs are going to trade Duchene, they’ll need to get a guy with a higher ceiling than Murray’s.

And that’s the toughest part for GM Joe Sakic. As we’ve said before, fixing a defense with trades is not easy to do. Sure, the Jackets were able to get a good, young defenseman in Seth Jones, but they had to give up Ryan Johansen to get him.

The key there? Johansen was under club control for more than two years.

Related: Cale Makar goes fourth overall to Avs

Fehr: Players would be ‘foolish’ to ignore possibility of work stoppage in 2020


If there’s a work stoppage in 2020, Derek Stepan is one of the growing number of NHLers who will have some insurance.

That’s because, for the 2020-21 season, Stepan managed to negotiate $3 million of his $5 million salary to be paid out in a signing bonus. Whether there’s a season or not, he’ll get paid that bonus.

It’s a strategy that dates back to the last lockout in 2012. And according to NHLPA chief Donald Fehr, it’s simply sound business practice for his union members.

“My judgement is that players would be foolish not to take into consideration the possible outcomes when the contract expires or either side terminates it early,” Fehr said Wednesday, per Postmedia. “They have to take that into account.”

The NHLPA must decide by Sept. 19, 2019, if it wants to opt out of the final two seasons of the 10-year CBA. The NHL can also opt out two years early; however, it’s the players who’ve complained most about the current deal. They don’t like escrow. And they were furious that the league tried to use the 2018 Winter Olympics as a negotiating chip.

If neither side opts out, the CBA will run until Sept. 15, 2022 — unless it’s extended first.

Penguins co-owner Ron Burkle gives rare interview to Pittsburgh newspaper


If you’ve got some extra time to read today, we recommend the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s interview with Penguins co-owner Ron Burkle.

Burkle, who owns the Pens with Mario Lemieux, is a billionaire who many credit for keeping the NHL in Pittsburgh.

Burkle is also a pretty private fellow who doesn’t grant many media interviews, so this was quite the get — even for a Pittsburgh newspaper.

We won’t share much of the interview, because the Post-Gazette deserves all the clicks it can get.

But on the topic of Marc-Andre Fleury, Burkle did say, “I wish we could have given the $15 million [expansion fee] back and kept him forever.”

Related: Lemieux, Burkle refute report — ‘There is no disagreement between us’

Coyotes name new president, hope his ‘relationships’ can get arena built


The Arizona Coyotes have a new president and CEO, and he’s got a big job ahead of him.

The club announced today that Steve Patterson will take over the job that Anthony LeBlanc left after owner Andrew Barroway bought out his minority partners.

Patterson’s top priority will, of course, be getting a new arena built so that the Coyotes can move out of Glendale but remain in the Phoenix area.

“We are very pleased to name Steve as our new President and CEO,” said Barroway. “Steve has a wealth of experience and has served as an innovative and successful executive in the NFL, NBA, professional hockey, professional baseball and college athletics for over 30 years. He’s built championship teams and organizations and has managed stadiums, ballparks and arenas across the United States. Most importantly, he previously worked in our market and has the necessary corporate and political relationships to help us secure a long-term home for the Coyotes in the Valley. We’re thrilled to have him join us.”

From the press release:

Patterson, 59, successfully led the effort to bring the Houston Texans NFL team and Super Bowl XXXVIII to Houston, Texas. As General Manager of the Houston Rockets he built the 1994 NBA Championship team. He is currently the President of Pro Sports Consulting, which provides services to companies, government entities, universities and individuals that operate or seek to acquire or sell sports properties, to design, finance, build and operate sports facilities and to maximize the revenue of these and related entities.

Patterson is not new to the state, having been Athletic Director at Arizona State University from 2012-13.

More on that from the release:

In that capacity, Patterson was responsible for all ASU Athletic Department business and sports operations, acquisition, development and operation of current and new sports facilities and the development of the 425 acre Sports Facilities District adjacent to the University in downtown Tempe.

Which is interesting, since the Coyotes were hoping to partner with ASU on an arena deal, before the plan fell through in February.

Perhaps that deal can be brought back to life?

“Arena deals take time, talks and negotiations,” Patterson told Arizona Sports. “They’re kind of like vampire movies. You go to the coffin a dozen times and you think they’re dead, but they keep rising back up. Every single deal I’ve been involved with was thought to be dead a dozen times and then it rose back up.”

DeBrincat one to watch when ‘Hawks hold prospects camp


The Chicago Blackhawks will hold their prospects camp next week — and when they do, expect all eyes to be on Alex DeBrincat, the 19-year-old forward who’s piled up points as an OHL star but whose NHL ceiling is a matter of debate.

DeBrincat, listed at just 5-foot-7 and 165 pounds, is coming off another stellar season with the Erie Otters. In 63 games, he scored a whopping 65 goals with 62 assists. For comparison, the second-most goals in the league was 48, by Sudbury’s Dmitry Sokolov.

With those offensive totals, one wonders if DeBrincat might be able to replace Artemi Panarin on Patrick Kane‘s line. After all, Panarin’s not a big guy, either, and he had great chemistry with Kane and Artem Anisimov.

But until DeBrincat plays an NHL game, there will be questions about his size and strength. In December, he was surprisingly cut by the U.S. World Juniors squad that went on to beat Canada for gold.

“It’s going to be a big summer for him,” Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman told the Chicago Tribune in February. “If he can get his strength up to NHL-caliber, no question he has the ability. He has that innate sense of how to get into open areas and score goals. That’s probably an overlooked talent. You can’t really teach that. It’s an instinct and he has it.”

Click here for the entire ‘Hawks prospects roster. It also includes DeBrincat’s Erie teammate, defenseman Darren Raddysh, who signed with Rockford last month.