Sunday, May 31, 2009

Hershey Bears win 2009 Calder Cup Finals opener

The American Hockey League isn't discussed here often, but if you are interested in what is going on in their championship series, here is a quick mention for you.

In a thrilling Game 1 of the 2009 Calder Cup Finals at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, the Hershey Bears defeated the host Manitoba Moose 5-4 in overtime. Alexandre Giroux completed a hat trick performance with the game-winning goal 13:33 into the extra period.

Hershey goaltender Michal Neuvirth stopped 26 of 30 shots he faced, including a penalty shot attempt by Manitoba forward Matt Pope with 5:46 left in the second period.

For highlights available from the AHL's web site, see the video clip below.

video courtesy: American Hockey League

Friday, May 29, 2009

Jim Balsillie unveils Copps Coliseum renovation plan

Given the very public campaign by BlackBerry founder Jim Balsillie has put together to bring a seventh National Hockey League team north of the border to Canada, now he has done more to woo public support to get behind his cause.

With his $212.5 million bid to buy the Phoenix Coyotes, his dream has only sparked heated debate and discussion from both sides of the issue of whether the hockey team can flourish in the Arizona capital city or be relocated to Hamilton, Ontario. Since outgoing owner Jerry Moyes made an agreement with Balsillie before ending up in a court battle with the league for authoritive control of the Coyotes, this arena plan is of real consideration should an NHL team be placed there.

Balsillie unveiled this morning on his Make It Seven campaign site a massive renovation plan for Copps Coliseum in order to bring it up to today's standards for NHL arenas. The estimated cost of this revitalization project is expected to be roughly $150 million based on 2007 construction estimates.

"A new team for the best new hockey market deserves spectacular new home ice, and that's exactly what the upgraded Copps Coliseum would offer," Balsillie said in his press release. "This facility will deliver unparalleled excitement and bring fans closer than ever to the action."

Not only will this be a way for Hamilton to host an NHL team in a state-of-the-art venue, it'll help bring more top concerts and shows as well as conventions to the city. However, there is no guarantee for the public financial support.

"It'd be premature at this point to talk about funding for Copps Coliseum," Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty's spokesperson Karman Wong said today. "However, the premier continues to be supportive of bringing a hockey team to southern Ontario."

However, the Canadian province of Ontario already plans to spend infrastructure money in Hamilton to help support their bid for the 2015 Pan Am Games, that being money which McGuinty has suggested could be used to fix up the arena.

Balsillie chose the design fire BBB Architects, the same firm that is working with Cablevision in their massive renovation plans for Madison Square Garden in New York City as well as New York Islanders owner Charles Wang for the proposed The Lighthouse at Long Island project which includes Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.

As presented in the unveiling, this is what Copps Coliseum's exterior would look like under a proposed renovation plan. (image courtesy of Veritas Communications)

"When completed, the BBB Renovation Plan will transform Copps Coliseum into a first class professional sports and entertainment facility, which will in turn promote a first class experience for visitors through the redesign and transformation of the building," said Chris O'Reilly, Principal with BBB Architects as stated in a Veritas Communications press release.

Under the proposed renovation plan, this is Copps Coliseum with an interior facelift. (image courtesy of Veritas Communications)

Within just two hours after Balsille unveiling of this renovation plan in which his financial backing hinges on owning an NHL team and placing it there, Ken Peters of the Hamilton Spectator boasted what this means to this city smack in between Buffalo and Toronto in an interview with CBC News: Today host Nancy Wilson.

"This is a huge deal. Mayor Fred Eisenberger said in a press release on it that it's a jawdropper and it absolutely is," Peters explained with his published article. "The plans are absolutely stunning. It's almost like building a brand-new facility. And already Hamilton is worked up over this plan for relocating the Phoenix Coyotes to Hamilton. When they hear details of the arena, it's just going to go over the top."

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Purchase bid for Phoenix Coyotes reportedly exceeds Jim Balsillie's offer

Could a rival bid to purchase the Phoenix Coyotes be what fans in Arizona are searching for in order for their team to stay in town?

Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star reported earlier today that Sports Properties Investment Corporation has set aside a significant amount of money to possibly purchase an available National Hockey League franchise. It may exceed BlackBerry founder Jim Balsillie's $212.5 million offer on May 5th, the day that outgoing owner Jerry Moyes filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. McGran wrote:

"Sports Properties Investment Corp. – a New York investment firm that's flush with cash – was working with Chicago sports magnate Jerry Reinsdorf to buy the Phoenix Coyotes one day before the team filed for bankruptcy protection.

According to documents obtained by the Arizona Republic, Tony Tavares, a former baseball executive who runs Sports Properties Acquisition Corp., signed an agreement May 4 with the city of Glendale, where the Coyotes play their home games at Arena.

The document did not reveal a purchase price, but the Republic says Sports Properties has $215 million (all figures U.S.) in a trust account to buy "sports and leisure properties." The publicly traded firm refers to itself as a "blank check" business that last month was trying to acquire the NHL's Florida Panthers, according to published reports."

Meantime, at today's follow-up court hearing in downtown Phoenix, United States bankruptcy judge Redfield T. Baum decided to set the next hearing for June 9th to settle the relocation issue. The reason for the moving up of the court date is because Balsillie stated he will withdraw his offer if the sale is not completed by the end of June.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly says the league will appeal if it loses at the bankruptcy court level.

Matteau, Matteau, Matteau! - May 27, 1994

New York Rangers fans will remember what happened exactly 15 years ago today.

After Rangers captain Mark Messier made good on a guarantee in which the Rangers won Game 6 in New Jersey to send the Eastern Conference Finals to a deciding Game 7, Stephane Matteau would score one of the greatest goals in franchise history.

With 4:24 gone by in the second overtime period, Matteau sent the Rangers into 1994 Stanley Cup Finals by slipping the series-winning goal around the right post and past New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur. It sent Madison Square Garden into a frantic state of euphoria. Defeating the hated Devils was only part of this storybook season in which New York's 54-year Stanley Cup drought had finally come to an end just a few weeks later.

New York Rangers official site (May 27):
Stanley Cup Playoffs Flashback: May 27, 1994

video courtesy: NHL Productions

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Mark Messier Guarantee - May 25, 1994

New York Rangers fans will remember what happened exactly 15 years ago (give or take a few minutes here or there).

Against the archrival New Jersey Devils in which the Broadway Blueshirts were down 3-2 in the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals and staring at a 2-0 first period deficit, the captain Mark Messier made good on a guarantee that the Rangers would win Game 6 to send the series to a deciding Game 7. Not only did Messier make good on that promise, he delivered with victory.

Messier scored three goals and had one assist to lead New York to a 4-2 Game 6 win at what is now the Izod Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. It will likely be one of the top moments of Messier's Hall of Fame career.

New York Rangers official site (May 25):
Stanley Cup Playoffs Flashback: May 25, 1994

video courtesy: NHL Productions

The NHL and Jerry Moyes agree on control of Phoenix Coyotes operations

Prior to this coming Wednesday's follow-up hearing at a downtown Phoenix courtroom, David Sloats of The Globe and Mail reported this afternoon that the National Hockey League and representatives for outgoing team owner Jerry Moyes have come to an agreement on how the Phoenix Coyotes will be operated until a new franchise buyer is found.

United States Bankruptcy Court Judge Redfield T. Baum ordered the two sides at the original hearing on May 19th to work out an agreement themselves under mediation. Baum, who represents the District of Arizona, will hear the progress report and learn of what was decided upon. According to Sloats' article, the issues of when the Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition was filed by Moyes, sale conditions of the team and its possible relocation should BlackBerry founder Jim Balsillie acquire the team and have the right to have it operate in Hamilton, Ontario as early as next season remain in question.

Interestingly enough, just hours earlier, Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star had stated Balsillie officially applied for the third time to be an owner of an NHL team. Moyes is expected to file a second application next week in order to allow for franchise relocation. The court has set aside June 22nd as the date in which the relocation issue of the bankruptcy case will be heard.

The Globe and Mail's sports page (May 25):
NHL, Coyotes agree on operating team

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Lightning and Oilers to play 2009 preseason game in Winnipeg

I thank my friend Heather who writes for her Reflections from the Ice Hockey Diva blog for the heads up on this story via her Twitter feed.

For the sixth time since the Jets left town, the city of Winnipeg will host an exhibition game between two National Hockey League teams.

Our Sports Central reports that the Tampa Bay Lightning and Edmonton Oilers have agreed to play a preseason game at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg on September 24th.

It will be the third time the Oilers have paid a visit to where their one-time Smythe Division rival had played. For the Lightning, it's their first appearance there since 1996.

Surprisingly, this is the only source that confirms the event will take place and with a set date and time. Neither, the two NHL teams, the Manitoba Moose, the official American Hockey League site nor official MTS Centre web site have any press release posted at the time I posted this blog entry.

Our Sports Central press release (May 5):
Oilers and Lightning to strike at MTS Centre in NHL exhibition