Ryan Smith, Everett, Wash.
Ryan Smith, Everett, Wash.
The Avalanche’s loss on Saturday marked their fifth-straight defeat, and it stung that much more when Colorado learned they would be without defenseman Erik Johnson for nearly two months due to a broken fibula.
The Colorado Avalanche have allowed at least three goals against in each of their past five games, have dropped each of those outings and were held scoreless in their most recent defeat, a 3-0 loss to the Dallas Stars.
And the only breaks for the Avalanche right now appear to be bad ones.
During the second period of Saturday’s loss, Colorado defenseman Erik Johnson made a gutsy shot block on a Tyler Seguin blast during a Stars power play. Unfortunately, though, Johnson’s reward for getting in the shooting lane and turning aside Seguin’s booming shot is a broken fibula that will see the 28-year-old rearguard on the shelf for 6-8 weeks.
It was clear from the outset that Johnson was in a bad way when he blocked Seguin’s shot, too. Cutting to the front of the net, Johnson had his body sideways when Seguin rifled the puck. That allowed the puck to catch Johnson closer to the back of Johnson’s leg, seemingly in an area where he had little to no padding. Blocking the shot immediately felled Johnson, and he headed for the dressing room as soon as the opportunity arose:
At a time like this, when the team is struggling so mightily defensively, losing a blueliner who logs upwards of 20 minutes per night is devastating for the Avalanche. The only defenseman who has averaged more ice time per game than Johnson is Tyson Barrie, and it’s entirely likely that Barrie actually sees an increase in ice time from the nearly 23 minutes a night he’s already playing this season with Johnson on the shelf.
There’s a ripple effect, too. With Johnson out, Avalanche coach Jared Bednar is going to need to shake up his blueline, and he may have to consider some pairings he hasn’t used to this point in the season. That could be especially true if the lower-body injury that kept Fedor Tyutin out of Saturday’s game is anything serious.
As for the losing streak, Bednar wasn’t about to blame that on the injuries, but he understands the position his team has found itself in.
"Injuries are not an excuse, but it helps to have some of those guys in the lineup," Bednar said, according to NHL.com’s Rick Sadowski. "You're missing a pair on [defense] and...we have to stick with it and get through it. It's the only way to get out of this.”
Want more in-depth features and expert analysis on the game you love? Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.
A tumbling Canadian dollar hits north of the 49th parallel, while a reworked lease in South Florida gives the Panthers a new lease on life.
A depressed Canadian dollar is obviously not good business for anyone in the NHL. With Canadian teams driving a good portion of the league’s revenues and the $5.2 billion television deal begin paid to the league in Canadian funds, every drop in the dollar represents revenue lost for the league.
And that is no more evident than it is in Forbes magazine’s annual ranking of NHL franchise values for 2016. Of the 30 NHL teams, only eight of them saw their franchise value decrease over the past year – the New Jersey Devils and all seven Canadian franchises. The Vancouver Canucks saw the most precipitous drop league-wide, with its value going down 6.1 percent to $700 million. Among Canadian teams, the Edmonton Oilers experienced the lowest drop, by 2.3 percent to $445 million, a loss that was mitigated largely due to the fact they moved into Rogers Place this season.
To the surprise of no one, the New York Rangers are the most valuable franchise in the league, with an overall value of $1.25 billion, up 4.2 percent from last year. They’re followed by two Canadian teams – the Montreal Canadiens at $1.12 billion (down 4.7 percent) and the Toronto Maple Leafs at $1.1 billion (down 4.4 percent).
“The (Canadian) dollar has had a huge impact on that for sure,” said Forbes executive editor Mike Ozanian, who compiles the list. “Over the past four years we’ve done this, it has gone from parity to 90 cents on the dollar to 83 to 75.”
The Canadian dollar is currently trading in the 75-cent range and most forecasters don’t expect that to change drastically over the next year or so, which means Canadian franchises, while still very valuable in the grand scheme of things, might not see any rise in their value in the next little while. The Canucks are the seventh most valuable franchise, with the Oilers checking in at No. 14, the Calgary Flames at 16, the Ottawa Senators at 20 and Winnipeg Jets at 21.
There were some interesting teams on the list, notably the Florida Panthers and New York Islanders. The Panthers are No. 29 on the list, ahead of only the Carolina Hurricanes, but saw their value rise a league-high 26 percent to $235 million this year. That’s in large part due to a deal that the team cut with Broward County last year which will see it receive $86 million in tourist taxes over the next 13 years as well as getting almost all the revenue created by the BB&T Center in exchange for the development rights to 140 acres around the arena that Panthers owner Vinnie Viola transferred back to the county. It also helped that the Panthers made the playoffs for just the second time in 15 years and their local television numbers were better. (The latter doesn’t help much now because the Panthers’ local TV deal still has five years go and much of that money was paid up front to previous owners.)
Even though the deal with Broward County runs through 2028, the Panthers have an out-clause that would allow them to relocate after the 2022-23 season if they lose more than $100 million between last season and 2021-22 and give one year's notice. “They basically monetized the land and they’re more portable now,” Ozanian said. “I’m not saying they are going to leave, but it is a plus.”
Panthers executive chairman Peter Luukko said he disagrees with Forbes numbers, but did acknowledge that the Panthers have increased in their value due to more stable ownership, a better product on the ice and the deal with Broward County. What the deal with the county does, Luukko said, was give the Panthers, “a lease that’s more commensurate with the times.” As far as the effect it has had on the bottom line, Luukko said the Panthers are still losing money, “we’re definitely cutting into those.” The Panthers said they lost $36 million in 2014-15.
The Islanders were another team that saw its franchise value spike upward, despite the fact that it ranks second-last in NHL attendance and its valuation by Forbes is $385 million, which is $100 million lower than the announced selling price when Charles Wang sold the team two years ago. Ozanian said the Islanders revenues from the Barclays Center are only in the $50 million range and the owners are carrying a considerable amount of debt, playing at Barclays has mitigated some of the team’s losses. “It’s a weird situation,” Ozanian said.
Overall, Ozanian said the league’s franchise values have been helped by the Rogers television deal, the league’s seven percent ownership in BamTech (which could increase to 12 percent) as part of its deal with MLB Advanced Media and an owner-friendly collective bargaining agreement. The Forbes numbers, it should be noted, are based on the revenues and expenses of all teams, including the arena’s economics as they pertain to the owner of the team. (Which explains why the Rangers come out on top.) Based on that formula, each team averages about $15 million in operating income, but almost half that total income of about $450 million ($219 million) is accounted for by the Rangers, Canadiens and Leafs.
The magazine, meanwhile, valued the Pittsburgh Penguins at $570 million, which is almost $200 million less than owners Ron Burkle and Mario Lemieux were seeking last season. And that’s with $26 million in operating income and a team that has strong revenue potential for the next couple of years. But generally, the future looks pretty favorable, the Canadian dollar notwithstanding.
“I think that even the lower revenue teams have benefitted,” Ozanian said. “Arguably, it has benefitted them the most because it’s more plausible for them to turn a profit.”
NHL FRANCHISE VALUES*
1. New York Rangers: $1.25 billion (+4.2%)
2. Montreal Canadiens: $1.12 billion (-4.7%)
3. Toronto Maple Leafs: $1.1 billion (-4.4%)
4. Chicago Blackhawks: $985 million ( - )
5. Boston Bruins: $800 million (+6.6%)
6. Philadelphia Flyers: $720 million (+9.1%)
7. Vancouver Canucks: $700 million (-6.1%)
8. Detroit Red Wings: $625 million (+4.2%)
9. Los Angeles Kings: $600 million (+3.4%)
10. Pittsburgh Penguins: $570 million (+1.8%)
- Washington Capitals: $570 million (+0.8%)
12. Dallas Stars: $500 million (+11%)
13. San Jose Sharks: $470 million (+5.5%)
14. Edmonton Oilers: $445 million (-2.3%)
15. Anaheim Ducks: $415 million (+3.6%)
16. Calgary Flames: $410 million (-5.8%)
17. Minnesota Wild: $400 million (+5.3%)
18. New York Islanders: $385 million (+18%)
19. Colorado Avalanche: $360 million ( - )
20. Ottawa Senators: $355 million (-4%)
21. Winnipeg Jets: $340 million (-3%)
22. New Jersey Devils: $320 million (-3%)
23. St. Louis Blues: $310 million (+15%)
24. Tampa Bay Lightning: $305 million (+17%)
25. Buffalo Sabres: $300 million ( - )
26. Nashville Predators: $270 million (+5.9%)
27. Columbus Blue Jackets: $245 million (+8.4%)
28. Arizona Coyotes: $240 million (+9.1%)
29. Florida Panthers: $235 million (+26%)
30. Carolina Hurricanes: $230 million (+2.2%)
* Source: Forbes magazine
Tony Bruns stopped 98 of the 110 shots he faced in a high school game
Morris/Benson Storm goaltender Tony Bruns faced 110 shots across 51 minutes of play and turned aside 98 shots. Bruns didn’t come even close to picking up the victory, but he did earn himself a pair of records.
Sam LoPresti holds an NHL record that is unlikely to ever be broken. On March 4, 1941, LoPresti, playing for the Chicago Black Hawks, stopped 80 shots in a 3-2 regulation loss to the Boston Bruins.
The thing about the record that’s hardest to fathom is exactly how a goaltender could face 83 shots against across 60 minutes, even with the most mismatched of teams. That’s more than one shot per minute, and there certainly had to be at least some lulls in the Bruins’ attack, right? Or at least enough time with the puck in the Boston zone that the Black Hawks could pot two goals of their own?
With that in mind, try and wrap your head around how on earth Minnesota high school netminder Tony Bruns, who plays for the Morris/Benson Storm, could have possibly made 98 saves on 110 shots in a 51-minute game on Nov. 26.
That’s nearly 2.2 shots per minute by the opposing Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato Dragons in what was a 12-0 drubbing of Morris/Benson, and a game that would no doubt have been much worse if not for Bruns’ spectacular play.
“I was a little surprised,” Bruns told the Minneapolis Star Tribune Minnesota Hockey Hub’s Loren Nelson. “My whole career I’ve had a lot of shots, but never that many. I thought it was just like any other game.”
Bruns allowed just five goals against on 45 shots in the first period, surrendered only two goals on 41 shots in the second, but the dam broke in the third as he was beaten five times on 24 shots in the third. Morris/Benson posted only six shots to their opponents’ 110.
Bruns’ heavy workload is a bit easier to explain when you understand the situation Morris/Benson is working with. The Storm has 12 players on their roster, Bruns included, and three of the players are “new to hockey,” according to Nelson. Four players listed on the roster are considered both a forward and defenseman. It’s not a team that’s heading for the state tournament or prepared to play against top competition, so, as one could imagine, it has actually been quite the norm for Bruns, the team’s only goaltender, to see so many shots.
In fact, Nelson reported three other outings in which Bruns made at least 60 saves, dating back to November 2014, and almost one year to the day earlier against Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato, Bruns stopped 75 shots in a 12-0 loss. Bruns’ outstanding 98-stop game is far and away the busiest he’s ever been, though. And it goes beyond a mind-blowing statistic.
Nelson reported that the previous state record was held by two goaltenders, River Lakes’ Spencer Theis in 2008 and Moose Lake Area’s Gage Mohelsky in 2012, who had made 76 stops in a regulation outing. The national record, Nelson reported, was held by Flint Northern’s Jamey Ramsey, who made 84 stops in a single game back in 1987 in Michigan. Those records now belong to Bruns.
Want more in-depth features and expert analysis on the game you love? Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.
Ben Bishop, Evander Kane, Martin Hanzal, Marc-Andre Fleury, and Dennis Wideman are five players who could move by the deadline, reports say.
The NHL trade deadline is still months away. However, that hasn't stopped some pundits from speculating over which players could be on the block by then.
TSN's Pierre Lebrun lists Buffalo Sabres left winger Evander Kane, Arizona Coyotes center Martin Hanzal, Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, Tampa Bay Lightning netminder Ben Bishop, and Calgary Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman as five who could move by the deadline. It's not surprising, as these players frequently appear in the rumor mill.
LeBrun believes the Sabres are open to moving the 25-year-old Kane, perhaps seeking a top-four defenseman in return. Hanzal, 29, is an unrestricted free agent in July. He could be dealt by the deadline if he and the Coyotes fail to hammer out a deal.
Kane was linked to the Vancouver Canucks, but reports indicate those discussions came to an end last week. Given the latter's off-ice baggage, on-ice struggles and $5.25-million annual cap hit through 2017-18, the Sabres could be forced to lower their asking price.
At 6-foot-6 and 226 pounds, Hanzal is a big-bodied, two-way center many playoff contenders will covet should he hit the trade block. LeBrun suggests he'd be a good fit with the Montreal Canadiens, who need more size down the middle.
It's believed the Coyotes want Hanzal to accept a short-term deal so as not to delay the arrival of the promising centers in their system. If he insists on a longer contract, the Coyotes could shop him.
With playoff hero Matt Murray challenging the 31-year-old Fleury for the role of Penguins starting goalie, LeBrun feels there's no room for both of them in Pittsburgh. He wonders if the Calgary Flames or Dallas Stars might come calling. The Penguins can only protect one goalie in next June's expansion draft and they don't want to lose Murray.
Fleury was linked to the Flames and Stars last summer, though the Penguins apparently sought a significant return. With both clubs once again struggling between the pipes, Fleury could become an attractive option, provided he's willing to waive his no-trade clause. If they pursue him, they must shed a goalie to make room for his $5.75-million annual cap hit.
Like Hanzal, the 30-year-old Bishop is eligible for UFA status in July. With Andrei Vasilevskiy's new three-year contract kicking in next season and talk of the Flames coming close to acquiring Bishop last summer, it's no wonder LeBrun thinks he could get moved by deadline day.
Trading Bishop, however, is no certainty. Earlier this season, Lightning GM Steve Yzerman said he was willing to keep his current goalie tandem intact for another run at the Stanley Cup this season. But if the Lightning are in need of depth elsewhere by the trade deadline, Bishop could be a useful bargaining chip.
If the Flames are out of playoff contention by the end of February, LeBrun speculates they could try to move Wideman. He's also due for UFA status in July and is a top-four blueliner with a right-handed shot. Factor in his experience, and there should be interest in Wideman as a rental player.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.