The Arizona Coyotes could be leaving Glendale as soon as the 2017-18 season, but president Anthony LeBlanc said the team isn’t currently working with a group of private developers considering building a 20,000-seat arena in Scottsdale.
Even though the Arizona Coyotes are in the final season of their lease agreement with Gila River Arena, the team hasn’t yet made clear where they intend to play next season. That said, a brand new arena in Scottsdale could be an enticing option.
Arizona Sports’ Craig Morgan reported that a group of private developers is looking into the potential for a new 20,000-seat arena in the Scottsdale Pavilions area, which could be part of a larger “sports village.” Though the developers say they have been looking into constructing the arena without a permanent tenant, there’s a chance the group could be chasing the Coyotes to use the building as their full-time home.
“We’re looking at the feasibility of filling it up with event nights,” a source told Morgan. “Obviously, a permanent tenant would be helpful, but we have been examining the option even without a permanent tenant.”
No decision has been made regarding the future of the arena project, but whether or not the group decides to proceed with the arena could be decided with in the next six months, according to Morgan. But even with a soft deadline around the corner, no progress has been made to finding a permanent tenant for the building and it really doesn’t appear the Coyotes are all that interested in the project.
Morgan reported that the development group had set a meeting with the Coyotes for shortly after the beginning of the season, but that meeting was nixed “at the last minute for unspecified reasons,” and the two sides haven’t convened since.
Over the past several seasons, the Coyotes have very clearly been unhappy with their situation in Glendale and would prefer to be closer to downtown in hopes of increasing attendance. However, no headway has actually been made in finding the franchise a new home come next season. Morgan pointed to a possible partnership with Arizona State University, which recently landed a Division 1 NCAA team, and while those discussions may be ongoing, an announcement for a new building hasn’t yet been made.
Even if the Coyotes were to sign on to be part of the arena project in Scottsdale, chances are the building wouldn’t be ready by the time the Coyotes’ lease runs out in Glendale. That means it’s a real possibility — and at this point, it seems a near certainty — that the Coyotes will be forced to extend their lease agreement at Gila River Arena for at least the 2017-18 campaign, even if that’s only for just one year.
"We'll figure that out," Leblanc told NHL.com’s Dan Rosen in December 2015. "If I have a list of 10 problems, that's not on it. The real situation we need to figure out is long term. Once we figure out long term, short term will work itself out. We've seen this in other markets in various sports, if there is a commitment of a new facility coming, we'll be able to figure it out.”
Simon Despres was one game into a five-year contract extension when he was placed on the long-term injured reserve by the Anaheim Ducks, and it sounds like he’s not expected back anytime soon.
Anaheim Ducks defenseman Simon Despres preparation for the season came with hope that he would be able to suit up and recapture the form that led to him inking a five-year, $18.5-million extension in October 2015. Instead, he finds himself one game into his new deal with questions about when he’ll even be able to return.
Despres, 25, dealt with concussion issues for much of the past season, and though Ducks GM Bob Murray hasn’t confirmed that it’s once again what Despres is battling through, it sure seems as though the young rearguard is fighting through concussion issues once again.
"The Despres situation is one that is a very sensitive issue and it’s one that my whole goal hopefully is make it that Simon at the end of all this lives a happy, healthy, normal life," Murray said, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun. "It’s going to take some time before we get to that point. Really, it’s all I want to say at this time on that because it is sensitive and I feel real bad for Simon."
That’s awfully ominous considering just how much time Despres was forced to miss during the 2015-16 season due to concussions and related symptoms.
Despres’ fight with concussions started with a knock he took from Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie just days after signing the contract extension. The hit seemed somewhat innocuous at the time — it went without a penalty call and it took some time before it was clear what had put Despres out of the mid-October 2015 contest — but it resulted in Barrie being handed a three-game suspension. For Despres, it resulted in 42 games on the sideline.
He eventually worked his way back into the lineup, but before long, Despres again found himself on the shelf with a head injury. This time he missed six games. He was able to return to close out the season, and played the final four games of the year before suiting up in all six post-season games. He wasn’t completely healthy at the time, though.
The concern now becomes Despres’ future. He hasn’t played since opening night and he’s been out with an “upper-body” ailment since the second game of the season. At 25, he no doubt had a lot of hockey left in him, but it appears he now finds himself in a similar situation to that of Ottawa Senators winger Clarke MacArthur, having suffered multiple concussions in a short period of time.
As Murray said, though, the hope has to be not for Despres’ return to the ice, but for him to be able to live a “happy, healthy, normal life” away from the rink.
The Bruins could be missing their top goal scorer for a game or two after David Pastrnak left his feet to deliver a high hit on Rangers blueliner Dan Girardi.
David Pastrnak, Dan Girardi and high hit. If those were the two names and one action you had to make an NHL ‘Mad Libs,’ you’d likely come out the other side with a story about how the New York Rangers defenseman had crushed the young Boston Bruins winger and was heading for a meeting with the Department of Player Safety.
But my, how wrong you’d be.
Following Wednesday’s game between the Bruins and Rangers, it’s Pastrnak who is facing a possible suspension for delivering a high hit on Girardi.
The hit came midway through the second period when Girardi went to field a puck that had been flipped high into the air and out of the Bruins’ zone. As the Rangers rearguard looked up to catch the puck, eyes focused on making the play, Pastrnak came from across the neutral zone and delivered a solid jolt that left Girardi down on the ice. Take a look:
The case can certainly be made that Pastrnak is going to find himself sitting for at least a game or two after seeing the slow-motion of his hit on Girardi, and it’s a pretty strong case, too. It’d be one thing for Pastrnak to leave his feet and make shoulder-to-shoulder contact, but he jumps into a hit that appears to make direct contact with Girardi’s head.
As a result of the hit, Pastrnak ended up with a minor penalty for checking to the head, and Girardi was forced to leave the game briefly before returning later in the second frame. It doesn’t appear the Rangers defenseman will be missing any further time, but the evaluation was necessary after he took a forceful blow to the head.
If the league does decide to suspend Pastrnak, it will help him that this is his first offense and that Girardi didn’t appear to suffer any lasting injury. Even still, it feels as though a game or two ban is heading Pastrnak’s way.
For the Bruins, losing Pastrnak right now would be incredibly disappointing, especially with how well he’s been producing early this season. Through seven games, Pastrnak has five goals and eight points while skating on the second line, and only Brad Marchand has contributed more to the attack than Pastrnak.
UPDATE: The NHL's Department of Player Safety announced Friday that Pastrnak has been suspended for two games for his hit on Girardi. NHL director of player safety Patrick Burke said that Pastrnak "unnecessarily extends up and into the head of Girardi, delivering a blow to the head and knocking him to the ice." While Girardi was eligible to be hit, it was the extension upwards instead of through the body that resulted in the suspension, especially considering Girardi's head didn't change position moments before or just as Pastrnak delivered the check.
The suspension is the first of Pastrnak's career, and it will cost him $10,277.78 in salary, all of which will go towards the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.
The case against Evander Kane stemming from a nightclub incident in June is coming to a close, and Kane, 25, will reportedly see the charges against him dismissed.
Buffalo Sabres winger Evander Kane found himself in legal trouble this off-season when he was charged with one count of criminal trespassing and four count of non-criminal harassment, but the case against the 25-year-old will reportedly be adjourned and dismissed.
Buffalo’s 7 Eyewitness News reported Thursday evening that an “Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal,” also referred to as an ACD, could be entered as early as Monday, which could eventually lead to the case against Kane being dropped.
According to 7 Eyewitness News, the ACD could see the case against Kane adjourned for more than six months and after a set period of time, the charges would be dismissed if Kane can display good behavior.
The charges against Kane stem from an incident at a nightclub in late June. It was alleged that Kane was involved in confrontations with four separate people, including a bouncer at a bar called Bottoms Up and a woman, who Kane allegedly grabbed by the throat and attempted to push into a car.
According to the Buffalo News, the police reports said Kane “threatened complainant and made derogatory comments to her,” and a second report alleged that another incident saw Kane grab a woman by the arms and attempt to force her out of the bar. The Buffalo News also reported a source said Kane engaged in a physical confrontation with the bouncer, and video had been captured of the altercation.
Kane voluntarily surrendered himself to police in late-July, leading to the surreal image of the Sabres sniper being handcuffed outside of the city’s Central Booking Bureau. Throughout the process, Kane has maintained his innocence and his lawyer, Paul Cambria, asserted that Kane would continue to do so.
The reportedly soon-to-be dropped charges against Kane aren’t the first time he has found himself in hot water during stay in Buffalo. Kane was previously under investigation relating to incident involving a woman in December 2015. He was cleared of any wrongdoing and no criminal charges were ever filed against Kane.
At the rink, Kane has also found himself in trouble with management and the coaching staff. Kane was suspended by the team in February for missing a practice after attending the NBA All-Star Game in Toronto. Sabres GM Tim Murray also said Kane’s off-ice incidents haven’t been good for the player or organization.
“Whether he has done these things or not or he’s guilty of these things or not, it’s not something I like getting up in the morning and reading about, that’s for sure,” Murray told the Olean Times Herald’s Bill Hoppe in July. “We’re going to let the process happen. We’ll go with whatever the ruling is. Whatever the ruling is, we’re obviously going to have a sit-down (talk).”