Cue the Welcome Back music.
Wayne Gretzky is back.
The Globe and Mail is reporting hockey legend Wayne Gretzky is back in the NHL family after the league made financial restitution with him. Columnist Eric Duhatschek wrote that a source told him an agreement had been reached Tuesday with the NHL in which Gretzky would be paid almost $8 million (U.S.), which was owed to him by former Phoenix Coyotes owner Jerry Moyes as a result of the team’s bankruptcy proceeding in 2009.
For THN’s new Rookie Issue, we spoke with two rookies of the league. But they’re not players. One is a new owner and the other a new GM.
George Gosbee is one of nine co-owners of the Phoenix Coyotes, as well as its executive chairman and governor.
The Hockey News: When the ratification process ends and you’re confirmed as the Coyotes’ new owners, do you celebrate?
George Gosbee: We were more excited when we (agreed to) the deal with the NHL, because it was a long process with many ups and downs. The end of that grind was what we were looking forward to. Once that was completed, it became about hockey, which was what we always wanted.
THN: In my experience covering the Coyotes’ ownership story over the years, a number of people refer to the fact the arena isn’t in Phoenix proper as an issue. How do you see that being a factor?
GG: We’ve always been cognizant of it. One of the great things is the arena. And there’s a large metropolitan base and a huge number of Canadians there. We’re not going to be able to change the distance; we’re going to be able to do a bunch of things, maybe look at some transportation. But it’s about building a winning organization. If we’re successful, we’ll get more fans out to see other Coyotes games and not just their favorite old hometown team’s game. And we’re starting to see that.
Growing up in Canada and being part of hockey and seeing how successful the Flames have been since they came over from Atlanta, we realized that what we do as owners off the ice is a partnership with what the team does on the ice. We have to both win on that. So we have to look at a lot of revenue areas, a lot of building aspects of what we do off the ice. And I think once we do all that, we’ll see more fans out during winning seasons and losing seasons. I’m confident of that.
Looking at the roster of potential unrestricted free agents this summer, a veritable treasure trove of big names could be available. Except they won’t, because if recent history is any indicator, most of those players will sign extensions long before their rights come up.
Joe Thornton, Henrik Lundqvist and Dion Phaneuf are all technically eligible, but the chances of them hitting the open market are slim.
“There’s less people in the pool,” said Phoenix Coyotes assistant GM Brad Treliving. “You just know from now to July a significant amount of guys will re-sign with their own teams.”
Two members of that club are Henrik and Daniel Sedin. They got their new matching deals done Nov. 1, re-upping with the Canucks for four seasons at $28 million per twin. And were it not for the shakeup behind Vancouver’s bench this summer, when John Tortorella replaced Alain Vigneault, the pacts may have been consummated sooner. The coaching change meant new chemistry had to be formed between the twins and Tortorella and due diligence needed to be done in the form of games played. Read more
When a one-time impact player
plays his final season with Columbus fades away quietly at the end of his career, his retirement often goes unnoticed, so let’s give Adrian Aucoin a quick career eulogy.
What immediately comes to mind when you think of the Phoenix Coyotes? Perhaps it’s “non-viable hockey market” or “overachievers” or “Dave Tippett could coach even a team of ferrets to victory.” The Coyotes have long been looked at as underdogs. But this season, in the shadow of the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks, the Yotes have risen to contender status. Read more
Neither Oliver Ekman-Larsson nor his Phoenix Coyotes have been front-page NHL news prior to this season. However, both the Swedish defenseman and his team – who combined to outlast the St. Louis Blues 3-2 in overtime Tuesday – are becoming stories nobody can ignore anymore.
The Phoenix Coyotes will be without the services of center Martin Hanzal for the next two games. And Hanzal has no one but himself to blame for it.
I had the chance to speak with Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg the other day and I posed the question about Sweden’s defense corps for the upcoming Olympics in Sochi. After all, this will be the first time since NHLers have competed in the Winter Games that the Tre Kronor would be without the services of Nicklas Lidstrom. Read more