St. Louis Blues Tattoos
Mike Millotte, Kingston, Ont.
Mike Millotte, Kingston, Ont.
The search for a right-handed defenseman could lead the Coyotes to Jets’ RFA Jacob Trouba or Blues UFA-to-be Kevin Shattenkirk, and the Los Angeles Kings could be looking for someone to step in if Jonathan Quick’s injury keeps him out long-term.
The Arizona Coyotes bolstered their blueline in the off-season with free-agent acquisitions Alex Goligoski and Luke Schenn. They might not be done adding defensemen this season.
Craig Morgan of Arizona Sports reports the Coyotes remain in the market for a top-four blueliner with a right-handed shot. He said discussions continue with the Winnipeg Jets over Jacob Trouba and the St. Louis Blues regarding Kevin Shattenkirk.
A restricted free agent, the 22-year-old Trouba recently requested a trade from the Jets. Shattenkirk, 27, is an unrestricted free agent next summer and could prove difficult for the Blues to re-sign.
The Jets apparently seek a left-handed defenseman of comparable age, skill and experience as Trouba. Oliver Ekman-Larsson would fit the bill, but the Coyotes aren't parting with their top blueliner.
Earlier this summer, the Blues fielded offers for Shattenkirk but their asking price was considered too high. Given his UFA status, the Coyotes could be leery of parting with assets for a potential rental player.
At this stage in the season, the Coyotes are unlikely to find many suitable options. They could end up having to wait, perhaps until the March 1 trade deadline, to find what they need.
QUICK’S REHAB COULD MAKE KINGS SEARCH FOR GOALIE
Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick left the Kings' season-opener against the San Jose Sharks in the first period with a groin injury. He could be sidelined for a significant period. While rumors claim he could be out three-four months, Lisa Dillman of the Los Angeles Times reports Quick is undecided over his rehab procedure.
If Quick is out of the lineup for weeks or months, the Kings will have to rely on backup Jeff Zatkoff and call-up Peter Budaj. Without a proven starter to carry the burden, their playoff hopes could be in jeopardy.
Larry Brooks of the New York Post suggests Quick's injury could provide a solution to the New York Islanders logjam in goal. The Isles currently carry Jaroslav Halak, Thomas Greiss and J-F Berube.
Brooks wonders if Kings GM Dean Lombardi will attempt to reacquire the 25-year-old Berube, who was plucked off waivers last year by the Islanders. Berube, however, lacks NHL starter experience.
Another option could be former Winnipeg Jets starter Ondrej Pavelec, who was sent to the minor last week. Pavelec, 29, carries a $3.9-million cap hit. With only $1.5 million in cap space, the Kings can't afford to take on his salary, but could make room by placing Quick ($5.8 million) on long-term injured reserve.
OLEKSIAK’S TIME UP IN DALLAS?
The Dallas Stars could be moving one of their young defensemen. The Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons reports they're quietly shopping Jamie Oleksiak.
Despite his 6-foot-7, 250-pound frame and shutdown abilities, the 23-year-old Oleksiak is struggling to earn a regular roster spot with the Stars. Over the last four seasons, he's appeared in only 78 NHL games.
Oleksiak is on a one-year, $918K contract. He could attract interest from clubs in need of affordable blueline depth.
Want more in-depth features and expert analysis on the game you love? Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.
The Ottawa Senators drew family and friends for a game against Arizona Tuesday night. Even though the number was dismal, empty seats are nothing new in Ottawa.
When the members of the Arizona Coyotes looked up into the stands during their 7-4 loss to the Ottawa Senators Tuesday night, they could have been forgiven for being a little confused. They would have been excused if they had thought for a moment they were actually playing at home instead of the Canadian Tire Centre, or whatever it is they’re calling the rink in Ottawa this week.
That’s because the game drew an announced crowd of just 11,061. It was a number that was, by some accounts, a generous one. It was also a low-water mark for the arena and it was believed to be the lowest attendance figure recorded for a game in Canada since late in the 1995-96 season, just before the Winnipeg Jets left town.
What does this prove? Well, a cynic might suggest it shows the Coyotes are just as popular on the road as they are at home. But it’s much more troubling than that. Low attendance in Ottawa is not a novel concept. In fact, it is following a trend that has been established over the past couple of seasons. So, 11,061 for a Tuesday night against Arizona is troubling in a Canadian market. But just as troubling was the fact the Senators came almost 1,000 short of a sellout for their season opener, which just happened to be against their most hated rival. Then they came almost 400 short of a sellout for home game No. 2 against the Montreal Canadiens.
Since the lockout that wiped out the 2004-05 season, attendance has been robust in every market but one. Generally speaking, almost every game since then has been sold out in every Canadian market with the exception of the nation’s capital. So we have to wonder whether or not fans in Ottawa have reached their breaking point here. The Senators have what they refer to as a Dynamic Pricing Structure for single game tickets, so it’s fair to assume the games against Toronto and Montreal were probably the most expensive of the season.
There’s a good chance that if there is a breaking point for fans, it has been reached in Ottawa. Ticket prices and an arduous journey out to a suburban arena are usually cited as the two most prominent factors when it comes to the Senators trouble filling the arena. (The resurrected Canadian Football League team, meanwhile, has sold out 25 of its 27 home games so far.) And tickets for hockey games are just like anything else when it comes to a free market economy. In reality, there is absolutely no connection between the fact that Bobby Ryan will make $7.25 million this season and Senators’ ticket prices. The cost of tickets to the consumer is the function of one principle – supply and demand. Hockey tickets cost as much or as little as the market will bear. And in this case, the market has quite obviously sent a message with its feet. And part of the problem then becomes perception. If there is low attendance, then fans who might otherwise feel a need to get their tickets early will realize they can probably get their ducats on the secondary market or by simply going to the box office on game night. So if the weather is bad, traffic is nasty or you’re just not feeling it, you don’t go to the game. And that kills demand.
But Ottawa is not the only market in Canada that seems to be softening. The NHL and NHL Players’ Association claims the World Cup was sold out, but there were swaths of empty seats, right up to Canada’s two-game final against Team Europe. The luxury boxes at the Air Canada Centre were a barren wasteland. The secondary market was flooded with inventory, which drove down the cost to a small fraction of the face value.
And consider that there are reports of soft ticket sales for the World Junior Championship in both Toronto and Montreal. The latter is of particular concern, largely because it was so dismally attended when the event was split between the two cities two years ago. The same fans who haven’t seen their team win a Stanley Cup for a quarter of a century are still not willing to pay top dollar to watch teenagers play for world supremacy. With Canada not playing any games in the preliminary round in Montreal, expect to see enormous swaths of empty seats prior to the medal round.
Canadians love hockey. A lot. But there comes a point where it doesn’t seem reasonable to continue it as an open-my-wallet-and-take-all-my-money unconditional love. The Senators appear to have reached that point. And it should be a cautionary tale for other teams who think occupied seats are a given just because people are watching NHL hockey.
Patrik Laine didn't have much to say about a rivalry with Auston Matthews. Instead he let his stick do the talking in a huge win for Winnipeg.
Shortly after Alexandre Daigle was taken first overall by the Ottawa Senators in 1993, he uttered a line that would haunt him for the entirety of his mediocre NHL career. “I’m glad I got drafted first because no one remembers No. 2,” Daigle said at the time. Chris Pronger - with his Hart and Norris Trophies, Stanley Cup ring, plaque in the Hockey Hall of Fame an gap-toothed grin – never let him, or anyone else for that matter, ever forget who went second overall that year. In fact, Pronger had so much fun with it that he brought it up once at the draft a couple of years ago. “Guess who’s eating the sh-- sandwich on that one?” he gloated.
There was no such bravado, either on the draft floor or prior to their first meeting, between the No. 1 and No. 2 picks in the 2016 NHL draft. The modern player is far different in character and comportment that Daigle and Pronger were, which probably explains why Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs is as dull as dishwater and Patrik Laine of the Winnipeg Jets, after showing some real promise in the personality department, has been kidnapped and brainwashed into not saying anything substantive by the secret NHL department that handles such matters.
Oh well, we’ll just have to be content with watching their brilliance on the ice, something that was in full display in the Jets' 5-4 overtime win over the Maple Leafs Wednesday night. Matthews was terrific. Laine, though, was otherworldly. Not only did he singlehandedly deliver two points to the Jets with a hat trick that brought them back from the dead, but he also drilled his stake into the ground in the 2016-17 Calder Trophy race.
It was incredible. One week after Matthews opened his career with the greatest offensive display ever by a player making his NHL debut, Laine came right back with a three-goal performance, including the game-winner with 2:20 remaining in overtime. And just to prove you can’t script these things, the goal came exactly six seconds after Matthews was stopped cold on a breakaway by Jets goalie Michael Hutchinson. (The chink in Matthews’ armor so far? Well, the extra frame. He lost his man Kyle Turris on the OT goal in Ottawa last week and his failure to score provided the swing the Jets needed to pot their own overtime winner.)
It wasn’t just that Laine scored three goals in his fourth NHL game, it was how he scored them. All three of them were goalscorer goals, not a cheapie among them. His first was brilliant, corralling a shot from the blueline on the power play, then keeping control of it, spinning around and putting a perfect shot past Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen.
Then on his second, Laine read the fake by teammate Nikolaj Ehlers brilliantly on the power play and, set up along the left side, fired a one-timer that looked an awful lot like Alex Ovechkin or Brett Hull. Take your pick. The Jets had their goaltender pulled and were on a 6-on-4 power play when Laine scored with just 55 seconds left in the game.
And as soon as he gathered up the puck along the boards on the overtime winner, there was no way he was passing it. He knew it, the Leafs knew it and the 15,296 in attendance at the MTS Centre knew it, but no one had the wherewithal to stop it. Laine went high on Andersen and even Laine himself seemed impressed with himself. "I'm kind of bad on two-against-ones from (the other side), so I just decided to shoot and it was a good shot," Laine told Scott Oake of Rogers Sportsnet after the game.
Try as he might, Oake was unable to get Laine to bite on the rivarly after the game. First overall pick gets stopped and the second pick scores at the other end to win the game. Even though he wouldn't say it, there had to be some of Laine that was taking some satisfaction in bettering the guy who was taken one spot ahead of him. "Obviously I'm proud of my team and myself that I scored those important goals and I scored the winning goal," Laine told Oake. "It's just amazing. He played a good game and he couldn't score, so I scored. It goes like that sometimes." Pressed to address the matchup, Laine said: "It was Winnipeg against Toronto, like I've said a couple of times now and it was just awesome to get the two points."
So it's fair to say that from the standpoint of young talent, the NHL is off to a rather promising start this season. Connor McDavid is producing, Matthews had a signature game in his first game in the league and now Laine has made his presence known in dramatic fashion. On a night when the Jets honored their past with Hall of Fame induction banners for Bobby Hull, Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nilsson - Hull, curiously, declined to participate - they also found out that the future doesn't look too bad as well. If this is a portent of what is to come from these young men, we can hardly wait to see what's next. And that's without Jack Eichel in the picture. And in case you're wondering, the Leafs and Jets play for the second and final time this season Feb. 21 in Toronto. Mark it down on your calendar if you haven't already.
The hockey world is still waiting to know the identity and look of the NHL’s newest franchise, and Las Vegas expansion team owner Bill Foley said the process is nearing completion.
Las Vegas expansion franchise owner Bill Foley’s initial goal was to have the team’s name, logo and colors ready for the Frozen Fury exhibition series at T-Mobile Arena ahead of the regular season. That would have allowed hockey fans to see, purchase and wear gear from the NHL’s newest club as the 2016-17 season began.
Getting prepared ahead of the exhibition games didn’t give Foley and Co. quite enough time to find exactly what they were looking for, though, so the unveiling got pushed back until Nov. 19, and has since been moved back further, this time to Nov. 22. As of right now, that’s the date the hockey world will know the official identity and look of the Las Vegas franchise.
While the logo and naming saga has drawn on much longer than anyone expected, Foley assured Sports Illustrated’s Alex Prewitt that the end is in sight.
According to Prewitt, Foley and his staff have been settled on the name — which contains Knights — since August and Foley estimated the logo is ’95 percent’ of the way to the finished product. The same goes for the jerseys. That said, there’s one important step left in finalizing the jerseys, and Foley’s not afraid to throw out the possibility of another delay.
“We’re actually going to see the fabric and see the color schemes on fabric, as opposed to looking at them [online],” Foley told Prewitt. “If I have to delay again, I’ll delay, but I want to make sure we do it right, that we have a color scheme that people can identify with that will pop, that they can really see, when you go to that arena, it’s a sea of a color that resonates throughout the whole arena.”
According to Prewitt, the hold up with the jerseys sounds like it’s coming from the home uniform. The away jerseys are done, Prewitt reported, but the sweaters to be worn at T-Mobile Arena aren’t offering Foley exactly what he’s looking for. When Foley mentions pop, he seems to mean he’s looking for a color that really draws the eye in, and he said the base color of the uniforms was “recessive” the first two times he saw it.
What exactly the base color is supposed to be is unknown at this point, but that doesn’t mean Foley has kept fans completely in the dark when it comes to the look of the team.
He has dropped some hints as to what fans should be expecting on the jerseys and told Sportsbook Radio’s Brian Blessing in October that the jerseys would feature some colors that play off of the environment in Nevada, with “red rocks” being mentioned as one such color fans might be able to expect. Foley has also mentioned a mesh-type look for the jersey, a clear play on the Knights name.
The wait is almost over, though, and the name, logo and jerseys appear to be on target for a late-November reveal — that is unless Foley decides there needs to be another delay.
Want more in-depth features and expert analysis on the game you love? Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.