• Detroit signs Ken Holland to new deal. Is Mike Babcock next?

    Matt Larkin
    Ken Holland

    The Detroit Red Wings have secured one piece of their future. Will the second domino fall soon?

    First, GM Ken Holland. There was the occasional whisper of him leaving Detroit for a new challenge, but the odds were always slim. He’s fuelled the Red Wings’ seemingly endless success for decades, including the last 17 years as GM. The franchise is synonymous with finding diamonds in the rough, including current stars Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, and Holland has always been the mastermind behind that brilliant drafting.

    Worry not, Wings fans. Your GM is back. Holland has signed a four-year extension, keeping him in Hockeytown through 2017-18. Owner Mike Illitch’s statement mentioned stability as “key to success of any organization,” and that Holland is crucial for maintaining that stability. It makes sense with a new arena all the way and this team in serious transition.

    On the surface, 23 straight playoff berths say it’s business as usual in Detroit, but we know that’s not the case. This team barely squeezed into the playoffs last season, and Datsyuk and Zetterberg seem destined to battle health problems for the rest of their careers. Jimmy Howard’s goaltending hasn’t met the expectation set by the six-year, $31.75-million deal he commenced last season. With the team’s future success in flux, it’s good news for the Wings to have Holland manning the ship.

    More good news: the youth movement is in full-swing, and Detroit seems more wiling than ever to give youngsters chances to play. Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar look like the latest late-round draft steals, poised to become building blocks for years to come at forward. Tomas Jurco and Riley Sheahan, who were higher-regarded prospects than Nyquist and Tatar when drafted, made the team last year as well. Anthony Mantha, who scored a goal a game in junior last season, could be the exception to Detroit’s unwritten rule of making every drafted prospect wait three to four years before making the NHL. That’s what happens when Detroit gets a top-20 pick after none from 2006-2012. The Wings’ blueline is solid if unspectacular, with clever college signings like Danny DeKeyser complementing solid vets like Niklas Kronwall. Maybe now that Holland has a contract, he can work on upgrading the defense corps further with an acquisition like, say, Mike Green.

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  • Is the NHL destined for Seattle? Potential owner calls it “the perfect match”

    Rory Boylen
    Gary Bettman

    Currently, there are two arenas being built in what are considered potential NHL relocation or expansion markets. Quebec City’s arena is scheduled to be finished in September of 2015 and the MGM Resorts/AEG project in Las Vegas will be finished in two years. In fact, the mayor of Las Vegas has talked about building a second arena, which would partially be covered by public money.

    But Seattle, which is not building a new arena right now, remains the most intriguing destination for the NHL. It’s a west coast team, which would balance the conference split if an eastern team needed to be relocated. It would be a competitive, rivalry market for Vancouver. And it has plans to build a brand new arena…as soon as it gets an NBA franchise.

    Chris Hansen holds the rights to build the new arena in Seattle, but he has no interest in owning a hockey team. That’s where Victor Coleman comes in. The CEO and president of Hudson Pacific Properties is very optimistic about Seattle as an NHL market.

    “I think the demographic base and the desire of the NHL in that marketplace is the perfect match right now. The expansion of the NHL into the Pacific Northwest, with Vancouver and the presiding area, makes it a perfect fit,” Coleman said to KING 5′s Chris Daniels. “There are built in synergies. That’s a ‘Day 1’ rivalry.” Read more

  • Teddy Purcell has no hard feelings after Tampa Bay traded him

    Matt Larkin
    Teddy Purcell

    There are trades, and then there are trades that ship you 2,366 miles northwest.

    The late-June swap that sent right winger Teddy Purcell from Tampa Bay to Edmonton was a shock. His closet said it all. It contained zero winter jackets and hadn’t for seven years. He’d spent his entire NHL career in California and Florida, and it seemed as recently as a year ago he wasn’t going anywhere for a long time.

    The undrafted college free agent didn’t blossom in parts of three seasons with L.A., but the Lightning took a chance on him with a 2010 trade. He realized his potential as a top-six forward, posting 51- and 65-point seasons, often as Steven Stamkos’ linemate.

    Something changed this past season, however. Young guns Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat burst onto the scene, and Purcell’s role diminished. Coach Jon Cooper, and even teammates like Valtteri Filppula, publicly asked Purcell to shoot more. He slipped to 12 goals in 81 games and tumbled to the fourth line. Purcell became expendable when the team identified other needs and off he went in the Sam Gagner deal.

    Standard storylines would have Purcell entering 2014-15 motivated to prove Tampa wrong, but that’s just not him. He’s about as easygoing as it gets. He’s happy to call frigid Edmonton his new home, pointing out he grew up in Newfoundland and played in Saskatchewan and Maine. And he’s not angry at Tampa Bay. He speaks highly of GM Steve Yzerman.

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  • Rumor Roundup: What will the Senators do about next summer’s UFAs?

    Lyle Richardson
    Marc Methot

    The Ottawa Sun’s Don Brennan recently observed the Senators could enter training camp with eight NHL defensemen, seven of whom are under one-way contracts. If the Senators decide to make a deal, Brennan feels they could draw upon their blueline depth for trade bait.

    Defenseman Patrick Wiercioch could become a trade candidate. Brennan noted coach Paul MacLean had some issues with Wiercioch’s game last season. He also cited a league executive praising the 23-year-old’s passing skills, which could make the young blueliner an attractive trade chip.

    Another option could be veteran Marc Methot. The Ottawa Citizen’s Ken Warren reports contract talks between Methot and the Senators are at a stalemate. Warren claims Methot, who’s in the final season of a four-year, $12-million contract, has been compared to Washington’s Brooks Orpik (five years, $27.5 million) and Tampa Bay’s Matt Carle (six years, $33 million).   Read more

  • Who is the best team in every American state? We made a map

    Ryan Kennedy

    Summer is a time for whimsy, so I thought it would be fun to figure out which team is the best in all 50 states of the good ol’ USA. In some cases it was simple: Just mark down the local NHL team. In others not so much. For example, right off the hop you have Alabama. The state has a Division 1 college team in Alabama-Huntsville and a Southern Pro League team in the Huntsville Havoc. While the Havoc play in the low minors, they were a playoff squad. The Chargers, on the other hand, got wrecked last season, winning just two of 48 games. So I went with the Havoc.

    The pecking order was pretty simple and based on last season’s standings: NHL, AHL, ECHL at the top, followed by the Central League, SPHL, college, major junior and the United States League. Other than Alabama, no judgement calls had to be made. The only exception to the standings rule was California. Yes, Anaheim had a better record in the regular season, but the Kings won the Stanley Cup and beat the Ducks in the playoffs. To the victors go the spoils.

    Also, Hawaii was not included because according to USA Hockey, there are 19 registered players in the state and only 15 are adults.

    In states where no pro, junior or Division 1 college team exist (there are eight), I chose the top NCAA club team. UNLV gets the nod in Nevada because the ECHL’s Las Vegas Wranglers went dark after the season ended and won’t return until at least 2015-16.

    Without further ado, here’s a look at the teams that rule, state by state:

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  • Dragons’ Den entrepreneur Arlene Dickinson joins up with Canadian Women’s Hockey League

    Adam Proteau
    Arlene Dickinson

    The planet’s only professional hockey league for women got a notable boost Wednesday when the Canadian Women’s Hockey League added Arlene Dickinson – wildly successful businesswoman, author, philanthropist, and TV personality on CBC’s Dragons’ Den reality investment show – to its board of directors.

    Since its inception in 2007, the five-team CWHL has been making slow-but-steady inroads in the business community, but the presence on the board (which also includes Calgary Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke, CBC analyst Cassie Campbell-Pascal and Trina Crosby, mother of Sidney Crosby) of Dickinson, a savvy venture capitalist and master marketer, can only accelerate that process. Anyone who’s seen her operate on Dragon’s Den has seen a thoughtful woman well-connected to the world around her and someone passionate about more than just making a buck.

    Considering the CWHL is still not close to paying its players a livable salary, there’s no way Dickinson is working with the league because its teams are about to turn a profit. She’s in it because it’s an organization that empowers women, and she’s aiming to ensure it prospers. Read more

  • Latest trailer from EA’s NHL 15, plus who’s missing from the top 50 player list?

    Rory Boylen
    Jarome Iginla

    We’re less than a month away from EA’s Sept. 9 release date for NHL 15. Yesterday, the company released another trailer that will get the hardcore NHL gamers excited.

    And while it looks incredible and cool and everything great, we’re still mostly in the dark about the actual game play. What was done about cheap, glitch goals that happened with great regularity? Won’t a superstar skill stick make it worse? Offline, if you outgrow a difficulty setting, can you move up to the next one without finding it impossible to score at all? The physics are supposedly different, but how meaningful are this year’s upgrades actually? Or is EA just adding some makeup?

    Check out the latest trailer that shows some pretty cool fan animations – which are ultimately meaningless – plus some hits and goals. (A Kings player flattens San Jose’s Patrick Marleau, which is fitting.) Read more