Sunday, July 19, 2009

Blue Jackets to soon place bid on future All-Star Game

If you did not read this entire article in today's edition of the Columbus Dispatch, you would not have caught this little scoop from Aaron Portzline.

The Blue Jackets and the Greater Columbus Sports Commission expect to make a bid in the coming months to host an NHL All-Star Game, GCSC executive director Linda Logan said. The league will begin accepting applications in the fall for the 2012 and '13 games. The 2011 game is set for Glendale, Ariz., but that could be a problem if the Phoenix Coyotes relocate.

Despite no official announcement yet, it appears that the Phoenix Coyotes will host the next NHL All-Star Game in 2011 (since there is not one this upcoming season due to the 2010 Olympic break in February). Will the Columbus Blue Jackets get the nod in 2012 or 2013? Time will tell, but we will see.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

How much does your favorite NHL team travel?

If you are a National Hockey League fan and follow a specific team, do you every wonder if the amount of travel can effect the team's performance? Perhaps if you find out the total mileage your team will make this upcoming 2009-2010 season, you could draw your own conclusion for debate.

Dirk Hoag of SB Nation's On The Forecheck blog provides a great breakdown of all 30 teams where you can see the numbers yourself.

On The Forecheck (July 16):
How much does your favorite team travel? Check the NHL Super Schedule

Quick summary here...

Highest projected mileage:
Calgary Flames (55,331)

Largest increase from 2008-2009 season:
Montréal Canadiens (+5,901)

Lowest projected mileage:
Buffalo Sabres (25,911)

Largest decrease from 2008-2009 season:
San Jose Sharks (-9,696)

Most back-to-back games:
Chicago Blackhawks and New Jersey Devils (19)

Least back-to-back games:
Edmonton Oilers and Ottawa Senators (11)

Also, if you like to see a complete master schedule for the 2009-2010 season, see Mr. Hoag's Google spreadsheet document. It's worth the look as well.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

NHL releases 2009-2010 regular season schedule‏

The 2009-2010 National Hockey League regular season schedule was just released.

Here are some quick highlights...

Season begins on October 1st
With a three-week break to accommodate Olympic participants, the season starts roughly a week earlier than usual and has a more compact schedule before and after that time off.

NHL Premiere series on October 2nd and October 3rd
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Florida Panthers in Helsinki, Finland
Detroit Red Wings vs. St. Louis Blues in Stockholm, Sweden

Stanley Cup championship defense
The Pittsburgh Penguins open their new season on October 2nd when they face the visiting New York Rangers. Prior to the game, the team will raise their 2009 Stanley Cup championship banner to the roof in the final season of Penguins hockey at Mellon Arena.

John Tavares' NHL debut with Islanders
Highly-touted 2009 #1 overall draft pick John Tavares will play his first regular season game when the New York Islanders host the Penguins at Nassau Coliseum on October 3rd. Just four years ago, 21-year-old Pittsburgh star Sidney Crosby made a similar entrance into the league.

November 28th indoor stadium game
Mentioned in Monday night's online edition of The Globe and Mail, the NHL approved a plan to have the Montréal Canadiens host the Washington Capitals at Olympic Stadium.

3rd edition of Winter Classic game (4th overall in NHL history)
The game is on January 1, 2010 at Fenway Park in Boston. In an old-time hockey matchup, the Boston Bruins host the Philadelphia Flyers.

National television contract with NBC extended 2 years
During the Winter Classic announcement today, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman stated that the league's national television contract with NBC has been extended 2 years, effective January 1, 2010 and through the 2010-2011 season.

"Hockey Day in Canada"
It is a day in the regular season schedule that has a tripleheader of games with just Canadian team participants. It will take place on January 30, 2010.

The national television schedules will be released at a later date.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Interesting idea for future outdoor game...

On the eve of the official announcement of the third edition of the Winter Classic, Miami Herald hockey writer George Richards proposed an interesting idea for a future sequel to this quickly evolving New Year's tradition.

He wrote in his On Frozen Pond blog earlier today:

And they'll be announcing that Fenway Park will play host to this year's winter classic, and I have no problem with that at all. Fenway is a classic location for a hockey game.

But I still say the NHL needs to seriously look at Camden Yards in Baltimore for a future game. Think about it: Put the Flyers and the Caps (both cities are about an hour drive in either direction) in Charm City and the NHL can bask in the glory of putting 40,000-plus fans into a beautiful ballpark in a non-NHL city. I don't see how this one can lose.

Of course, now the Flyers will have been involved in one. I don't like the Bruins/Flyers matchup, but hey, that's me.

Unfortunately it is too late for the Philadelphia Flyers to be a participant in such a game there since it will be made official tomorrow they'll be playing the Boston Bruins for the upcoming game at Fenway Park.

It's certainly a nice compromise to have a neutral site for two teams based roughly two hours driving distance apart such as at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, but I won't be shocked if the Washington Capitals are strongly considered for another Winter Classic game real soon.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Kris Letang and Tyler Kennedy visit KDKA-TV studios

Unless you see visit the Pittsburgh Penguins official web site or one of the local television web sites, you may or may not have known about this from earlier today.

Two of the Penguins heroes in the team's successful 2009 Stanley Cup run paid a visit to the KDKA-TV studios in Pittsburgh this morning. Tyler Kennedy and Kris Letang discussed what their journey to the franchise's third championship meant to them, talked about the just-released DVD and even tried to deliver a weather forecast with the help of weather anchor Jon Burnett.

Let's just say with a bit of a playful laugh that Letang and Kennedy should just stick to playing hockey. There are two video clips that accompany the web page below.

KDKA-TV (Pittsburgh) (July 7):
Pens' Letang, Kennedy deliver the forecast on KDKA

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

2009 free agent season is finally here

The day is finally here. With the 2008-2009 season, the annual NHL Awards and 2009 NHL Entry Draft all done, the one main event left before a quiet two months of summer is of course the first day of the free agent season.

Many fans (including me) will eagerly be monitoring the transaction wires, the National Hockey League web site and team web sites, plus the reliable sports news pages. At noon today, that starting gun will sound (figuratively) and stressed out, sleep-deprived team general managers will scramble to grab the player or players they want by spending millions of dollars to do so.

No one knows for sure who will go where as speculation has been running high with some high profile players eligible to test the market.

You can certainly tune in to TSN, Rogers Sportsnet, The Score or even the NHL Network for the latest signings and possibly trades as this first day of the free agent season has arrived. For American viewers, NHL Network will show a 4-hour simulcast of TSN's extensive coverage starting at 2:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time following NHL Live.

Before then, you can always pay attention to a handful sources that I expect will be constantly bringing us up to speed as the signings are announced and they include:

Spector's Hockey
The Fourth Period
Kukla's Korner
James Mirtle's From The Rink hockey blog
Inside Hockey
Max Hockey

As I said at the trade deadline, Lyle Richardson (who is a very reputable journalist that runs the Spector's Hockey site) is someone I highly recommend to bringing you instant analysis on his blog that is also accessible at FOX Sports' NHL page.

Meantime, three notes to report since late last night...

*The Ottawa Senators had in place a major trade in which they would have sent disgruntled forward Dany Heatley to the Edmonton Oilers for Andrew Cogliano, Dustin Penner and Ladislav Smid. However, Heatley did not waive his no-trade clause, so it has not gone through. Stories circulated throughout the evening that it was done, then he flat out rejected it and then before my head hit the pillow, it was just on hold. We shall see if Heatley goes anywhere.

*The Anaheim Ducks have re-signed forward Erik Christensen to a one-year contract extension.

*And within the last 40 minutes, TSN reports that the Vancouver Canucks have re-signed both Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin to 5-year, $30.5 million contracts.

Enjoy the long anticipated July 1st day and may your favorite team not disappoint you. Happy Canada Day to everyone north of the United States border.

Minnesota designates hockey as state's official sport

The state of Minnesota has its 12,000 lakes and plenty of them where their residents can fish. But here's a news flash for you. They love their hockey. From the grassroots level to the professional ranks, they most certainly embrace it.

Star Tribune writer Bob Von Sternberg posted this morning this article to tell us Minnesota is a hockey state. I wink my right eye when I say this, but I think Minnesota Wild fans already know.

A lot of Minnesotans consider hockey the state's official sport, but didn't become official until today.

Under a new state law, hockey has been given that official designation, joining such diverse items as milk, blueberry muffins and ladyslippers.

A little-noticed line was tucked into this year's omnibus jobs and economic development bill, passed by the legislature and signed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a well-known hockey fanatic.

It's simple: "Ice hockey is adopted as the official sport of the state of Minnesota."

The designation was the brainchild of two hockey fans in the Legislature, Sens. Gen Olson, R-Minnetrista, and David Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm.

Fifth-graders from Groveland Elementary School in Minnetonka originated the idea two years ago when they visited the Capitol, telling senators Minnesota needs a state sport -- specifically, hockey.

The senators agreed, citing the extensive boys' and girls' hockey programs, to the state's five NCAA Division I college teams to its NHL team the Minnesota Wild.

The new designation is old news to the Wild, which has since its inception branded Minnesota the "State of Hockey."

Great to see the state government in St. Paul "officially" recognize it, but now let's see the Wild bring the first Stanley Cup championship to Minnesota sometime soon.

Player signings on eve of free agent season

While the hockey media and fans focus more on the clock like school children waiting for the final bell to ring, there have been some notable player signings over the last 48 hours with the free agent season beginning tomorrow.


Among those who came into their own on a very resurgent Chicago Blackhawks team that reached the Western Conference Finals last season has agreed to remain with the club for the next five years. Blackhawks forward Dave Bolland signed a new 5-year, $16.875 million contract.

Bolland scored 19 goals and had 28 assists for a career-high 47 points in 81 regular season games for Chicago. He would then record 12 points in 17 playoff games this year.

The Blackhawks also re-signed forward Jacob Dowell to a two-year deal and goaltender Antti Niemi for the 2009-2010 season.


After an impressive showing in the 2009 Stanley Cup playoffs where he scored 7 goals and dished out 4 assists for 11 points in all 18 games the Carolina Hurricanes played, the team announced yesterday they have re-signed forward Jussi Jokinen to a 2-year, $3.4 million contract. According to general manager Jim Rutherford, he said:

"Jussi was a good addition to our team last season and he really stepped into his role in the playoffs. His ability to contribute on the power play and penalty kill, and his versatility at different forward positions makes him a valuable player."


The 2009 Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins have kept two forwards around following a successive run at their third title in franchise history. The team re-signed forward Craig Adams to a 2-year contract and Bill Guerin for the 2009-2010 season at $2 million.

Guerin's decision to return to Pittsburgh was easy to make when you have general manager Ray Shero to negotiate a new contract with.

"It doesn't always happen like this," Guerin said. "It was awesome dealing with Ray. He made everything really easy and smooth. He was up front and honest and made it a great situation."

Guerin was very productive on his way to a second Stanley Cup title in his 17-year National Hockey League career with 15 points (7 goals and 8 assists) in 24 playoff games.


TSN reports that the San Jose Sharks re-signed defenseman Rob Blake for the 2009-2010 season. He will be paid $3.5 million plus bonus incentives.

Blake scored 10 goals and had 35 assists in 75 regular season games. Spanning 20 NHL seasons, the 39-year-old veteran has accumulated 233 goals over exactly 1200 career contests.


Hours before completing a trade in which they acquired forward Ben Walter from the New York Islanders for the rights to forward Tony Romano, the New Jersey Devils have re-signed defenseman Johnny Oduya to a multiyear contract.

The Score reports it is a 3-year, $10.5 million deal.

Oduya had a career-high 29 points in playing all 82 regular season games.

"We are delighted to have Johnny Oduya stay with the organization," Devils president, CEO and general manager Lou Lamoriello said. "He has developed into one of the more talented young defensemen in the National Hockey League."


Dallas Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk retained a former teammate in signing forward Jere Lehtinen for the upcoming 2009-2010 season. Lehtinen agreed to a $1.5 million base salary with up to another $1 million in bonus incentives.

The 36-year-old forward was limited to 48 games due to injury and had just 8 goals and 16 assists for 24 points. Despite those modest numbers, Nieuwendyk believes Lehtinen is still an important part of the team.

"We are extremely pleased to welcome Jere Lehtinen back with our club next season," Nieuwendyk said. "He has been one of the cornerstones of this franchise for many years and we feel he will continue to be a significant contributor going forward. Jere is a consummate professional on and off the ice, and we look forward to his healthy return next season."

Nieuwendyk and Lehtinen together won the Stars' 1999 Stanley Cup championship.


Three days after acquiring exclusive negotiation rights that cost the Calgary Flames a roster player in defenseman Jordan Leopold plus the 2009 #67 overall draft pick (Josh Birkholz), they were able to get defenseman Jay Bouwmeester under contract earlier tonight.

The Sports Network (TSN) reports it is a 5-year, $33 million deal.