Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Rangers trade Scott Gomez to Canadiens in six-player deal

Just 19 hours before the free agent season begins, the New York Rangers made a significant move likely to free up more money under the salary cap.

First was the retirement of forward Markus Naslund on May 4th, just 5 days after the team's season came to an end with their opening round collapse at the hands of the Washington Capitals.

Next, the we heard that the Rangers elected not to qualify an offer to impending free agent Nikolai Antropov, whose agent was asking for $5.25 million per season to return to New York.

There is uncertainty as to whether or not the enigmatic Nikolai Zherdev will be back on Broadway as well. Therefore, potentially more cap room for the team should neither re-sign.

Then three hours ago, Rangers general manager Glen Sather made a surprise trade that caught many off guard. Two years after signing a 7-year, $51.5 million contract and not living up to the expectations of that deal, forward Scott Gomez was sent packing to Montréal in a six-player trade.

The Rangers received Long Island native Christopher Higgins and defensemen Ryan McDonagh and Pavel Valentenko. In addition to Gomez, the Canadiens also received forward Tom Pyatt and defenseman Mike Busto.

Even though he did not live up to expectations in New York, Gomez is embracing the challenge that awaits him in Montréal.

"I'm happy to be going to the Mecca of hockey," Gomez told the Montréal Gazette. "I know there'll be some pressure, but that's what it's all about. I got some taste of the Montréal tradition playing for Larry Robinson."

Is this major trade a precursor to major moves to come leading through the opening gun of the free agent frenzy? Time will tell, but if New York wasn't a serious player before today, they are now.

For more on the trade, see the Rangers' news release below.

New York Rangers official news release (June 30):
Rangers send Gomez to Habs in 6-player deal

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Teemu Selanne and Scott Niedermayer to return for 2009-2010 season

Despite their major trade of Chris Pronger to the Philadelphia Flyers last night, the Anaheim Ducks announced that both of two other veteran star players are coming back for another encore season.

Who would they be, you ask? They would be two key members of their 2007 Stanley Cup championship team in defenseman Scott Niedermayer and forward Teemu Selanne. Certainly it is great news for Ducks fans.

First, it was within less than one hour before the start of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft last night where Niedermayer confirmed he was coming back. Then USA Today's Kevin Allen reported on his Twitter page that Selanne would return to play an 18th National Hockey League season.

Selanne who is set to turn 39 on July 3rd, became the Ducks' all-time leader in assists (370) and games played (617) last season. He may not score as many as he did in his record-breaking 1992-1993 rookie campaign where he scored 76 goals, but he's looking forward to competing hard again for another championship.

"I'm very happy to play another season in Anaheim," Selanne said. "The way we played toward the end of last season, I'm excited about our chances. We definitely have what it takes to win."

Ducks general manager Bob Murray added, "This is obviously great news for the Ducks. Teemu is still playing at a high level, brings passion and energy to the locker room and is a loyal member of this franchise. It's fantastic he's chosen to continue his playing career."

Selanne is signed through the upcoming 2009-2010 season and intends to play for Finland in the 2010 Winter Olympics. Niedermayer still needs to negotiate a new contract to finalize his spot on the Anaheim roster.

2009 NHL Entry Draft weekend trade summary

In addition to the Chris Pronger and Jay Bouwmeester trades that were finalized, here are the other transactions that took place during the 2009 NHL Entry Draft today. They do not include trades that only involved draft picks from last night.

*The Calgary Flames traded defenseman James Vandermeer to the Phoenix Coyotes for forward Brandon Prust.

*The Los Angeles Kings traded forward Brian Boyle to the New York Rangers for a 2010 third round draft pick.

*The Minnesota Wild acquired forward Kyle Brodziak and the 2009 #161 overall draft pick (Darcy Kuemper) from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for the 2009 #99 (Kyle Bigos) and #133 (Olivier Roy) overall draft picks.

*The Coyotes then acquired defenseman Sami Lepisto from the Washington Capitals for a 2010 fifth round draft pick and defenseman Shaun Heshka from the Vancouver Canucks for the 2009 #187 overall draft pick (Steven Anthony).

*The Pittsburgh Penguins traded goaltender Chad Johnson to the Rangers for the 2009 #123 overall draft pick (Alex Velischek).

Panthers trade Jay Bouwmeester's rights to Flames

As the remainder of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft got underway at the Bell Centre in Montréal, Darren Dreger announced during TSN's (The Sports Network) broadcast that the long-awaited departure of Florida Panthers defenseman Jay Bouwmeester finally happened.

The Panthers sent Bouwmeester's rights to the Calgary Flames for defenseman Jordan Leopold and this year's #67 overall draft pick.

Florida later selected 18-year-old forward Josh Birkholz, who scored 21 goals and recorded 15 assists for 36 points in 55 games for the Fargo Force of the United States Hockey League. Birkholz plans to attend the University of Minnesota next season.

Both Bouwmeester and Leopold are each expected to become unrestricted free agents on July 1st. But their new teams have until then to exclusively negotiate new contracts. Potentially, the Panthers could be the only team to gain from this transaction in a worst case scenario with their draft selection from Calgary.

See the video clip below to hear what Flames general manager Darryl Sutter had to say on acquiring Bouwmeester this morning.

video courtesy: NHL Productions

Florida Panthers official news release (June 27):
Cats acquire Leopold, pick for Bouwmeester

2009 NHL Entry Draft first round selections

To no surprise whatsoever, the New York Islanders selected forward John Tavares as the first overall draft pick hours ago at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft in Montréal.

Here are all thirty first round draft picks:

1. New York Islanders - John Tavares, C; London (OHL)
2. Tampa Bay - Victor Hedman, D; MoDo (Sweden)
3. Colorado - Matt Duchene, C; Brampton (OHL)
4. Atlanta - Evander Kane, C; Vancouver (WHL)
5. Los Angeles - Brayden Schenn, C; Brandon (WHL)
6. Phoenix - Oliver Ekman-Larsson, D; Leksand (Sweden)
7. Toronto - Nazem Kadri, C; London (OHL)
8. Dallas - Scott Glennie, RW; Brandon (WHL)
9. Ottawa - Jared Cowen, D; Spokane (WHL)
10. Edmonton - Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, LW; Timra (Sweden)
11. Nashville - Ryan Ellis, D; Windsor (OHL)
12. New York Islanders (from Minnesota) - Calvin de Haan, D; Oshawa (OHL)
13. Buffalo - Zack Kassian, RW; Peterborough (OHL)
14. Florida - Dmitry Kulikov, D; Drummondville (QMJHL)
15. Anaheim - Peter Holland, C; Guelph (OHL)
16. Minnesota (from New York Islanders via Columbus) - Nick Leddy, D; Eden Prairie, MN H.S.
17. St. Louis - David Rundblad, D; Skelleftea (Sweden)
18. Montréal - Louis Leblanc, C; Omaha (USHL)
19. New York Rangers - Chris Kreider, C; Andover, MA H.S.
20. New Jersey - Jacob Josefson, C; Djurgarden (Sweden)
21. Columbus (from Anaheim via Philadelphia) - John Moore, D; Chicago (USHL)
22. Vancouver - Jordan Schroeder, C; Minnesota (WCHA)
23. Calgary (from New Jersey) - Tim Erixon, D; Skelleftea (Sweden)
24. Washington - Marcus Johansson, C; Farjestad (Sweden)
25. Boston - Jordan Caron, RW; Rimouski (QMJHL)
26. Anaheim (from Columbus via New York Islanders) - Kyle Palmieri, F; USA-18 (USDP)
27. Carolina - Philippe Paradis, C; Shawinigan (QMJHL)
28. Chicago - Dylan Olsen, D; Camrose (AJHL)
29. Tampa Bay (from Detroit) - Carter Ashton, RW; Lethbridge (WHL
30. Pittsburgh - Simon Despres, D; Saint John (QMJHL)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Flyers acquire Chris Pronger before draft begins

Most observers tuning into the 2009 NHL Entry Draft on Versus or The Sports Network (TSN) were likely anticipating a trade involving either Florida Panthers defenseman Jay Bouwmeester or Ottawa Senators forward Dany Heatley.

But instead, a player who has been rumored to be on the trading block stole the spotlight as the Anaheim Ducks traded defenseman Chris Pronger to the Philadelphia Flyers. In the deal, forward Joffrey Lupul returns to Anaheim while defenseman Luca Sbisa joins him. The Flyers' #21st overall draft pick (later traded to Columbus where they selected John Moore), their 2010 first round draft pick and a conditional third round draft pick were also sent to the Ducks. Also coming to Philadelphia is forward Ryan Dingle, a player who accumulated just 18 points in 70 games for the American Hockey League's Iowa Chops last season.

The Flyers later announced on their official Twitter page that Pronger will wear #25 on his orange and black jersey next season. Fellow defenseman Matt Carle will switch to #20.

Philadelphia Flyers official news release
(June 26):
Flyers acquire Chris Pronger

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Will the Bruins host the Flyers in the next Winter Classic?

For quite a while now, reliable sources have indicated that the next Winter Classic is likely to be held at Fenway Park in Boston on January 1, 2010.

But here is another twist. Rumors are flying as to whom the Boston Bruins would host in the third such outdoor game in the United States in as many years and the fourth overall in league history.

Here are two sources that are giving us a firm indication that it will be the Philadelphia Flyers.

Anthony J. SanFilippo of the Delaware County Daily Times reported yesterday:

I made a couple phone calls and exchanged a couple emails and I can now confirm that speculation is true.

The Flyers will square off with the Bruins on January 1, 2010 at Fenway Park.

It's an interesting story how it came to be that the Flyers were picked for this event.

The NHL was pushing the Washington Capitals. They wanted to market Alex Ovechkin.

NBC, the network broadcasting the game, said no dice.

They were concerned with the poor ratings the Caps' produced in the playoffs in an opening round series against the New York Rangers - the #1 U.S. market for the NHL.

So, they told the NHL to skip Washington and give them the Flyers... a more certain brand to market.

The NHL was stubborn for a while... mostly because the Flyers were more interested in a January 1 date with Pittsburgh than Boston.

However, the NHL assured the Flyers that a future Flyers-Penguins outdoor game could still happen in a couple years.

The Flyers were satisfied and agreed to play.

The NHL then confirmed for NBC that the Flyers would in fact play.

No official announcement has come from the league or the Flyers, but sources have confirmed to me that this is the case.

Jeff Howe of Metro reported hours ago:

The other game will feature the Boston College men's hockey team, but final details are still being worked out regarding the timing of the game. A separate source, who also requested anonymity because an official announcement has not yet been made, indicated Boston University is talking with Fenway Sports Group about the possibility of playing at Fenway.

BU coach Jack Parker told Metro during the Frozen Four in April he was hoping the Terriers would be invited to play in the Winter Classic when rumors first started swirling about Boston hosting the event. Boston College and Boston University have been trying to schedule a game at Fenway Park for a few years.

BU, BC and Fenway Sports Group all declined comment for this story. Official word regarding the Winter Classic is expected to come from the NHL next month.

The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Buffalo Sabres in the inaugural Winter Classic in 2008 at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

The 2009 edition was held at Wrigley Field with the Detroit Red Wings defeating the Chicago Blackhawks.

So until the game and the two participating teams are confirmed by the National Hockey League with the upcoming official announcement, let the chatter begin as to whether it will definitely be the Flyers playing the Bruins. If it holds true, than this would be a good matchup to watch.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Fans rally in Hamilton to voice their message

Just over a month ago, Phoenix Coyotes fans held a rally at the Native New Yorker restaurant in Glendale, Arizona on just five days notice to voice their desire to keep their team right where it is.

Fast forward to earlier today. The Make It Seven campaign held a rally of its own called "Make It Seven Day" in downtown Hamilton, Ontario. Here, hockey fans gathered at Jackson Square, located behind Copps Coliseum to deliver their own message that they want a National Hockey League team as the seventh in Canada.

Led by BlackBerry billionaire Jim Balsillie's efforts to bring a team to the southwestern Ontario region, Make It Seven put together a rally with more time to prepare than their Save The Coyotes counterparts did.

Prior to the recent Make It Seven launch, another such organization has been doing its part to rally fans together to support the same cause. Some in attendance at today's rally brought printed signs for the Bring the NHL to Hamilton campaign.

"At this point in the campaign, we need those men in the NHL Board (of Governors) to know that we're are not going to be denied that it's time to sit down and talk with Mr. Balsillie because we want an NHL team here and we want to bring it home where it belongs," Bring the NHL to Hamilton rally co-chairperson Michelle Febers told CBC News: Today host Nancy Wilson.

The Bring the NHL to Hamilton campaign launched its web site on October 1, 2008 and has grown into an online destination where you can learn about the history of hockey in Hamilton as well as find news items in relation to the cause. While it is not directly linked to Make It Seven that is backed by Balsillie, they have the same message for league headquarters in New York City.

Outgoing Coyotes owner Jerry Moyes filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on May 5th and in turn agreed to sell the franchise to Balsillie on the condition he is able to move it to Hamilton. The NHL has contested that Moyes was not in the authority to make such a transaction since they have been providing financial assistance to keep the Coyotes in operation. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and Moyes immediately went to United States Bankruptcy Court to find a resolution to the matter. However, after a ruling by District of Arizona judge Redfield T. Baum stated that there was not enough time to resolve all issues in this case before an aggressively imposed Balsillie deadline of June 29th to close the sale, it would not be allowed to go through. Balsillie's offer had resembled the current franchise debt of $212.5 million, obviously what Moyes needs to pay off creditors in full what is owed.

As a result, this bides more time for the league to find a buyer who is committed to keeping the team in Phoenix's neighboring city of Glendale. The Coyotes will for at the very least be playing their 2009-2010 season home games at Jobing.com Arena with or without the NHL's financial backing. At this point, they're aiming to hold an auction in September and Balsillie will still be allowed to place a bid. If no buyer is found, at a later time relocation would be explored.

"Definitely we still want the Coyotes," Febers also said in her interview. "That's not gonna change. The basic line of the story is, we want the NHL to come home."

Whether the Coyotes stay in Arizona or if Hamilton gets a team remains to be seen. Either way, both locations have expressed their desire to have NHL hockey. One wants to keep it while the other wants to get it.

In the meantime, are you looking for some coverage on the rally? The Hamilton Spectator has a video clip while Hamilton radio station CMHL-AM provided interview audio soundbytes of key supporters plus the YouTube video below.

video courtesy: CMHL-AM

Dallas Stars' 1999 Stanley Cup title - June 19, 1999

When the Minnesota North Stars moved to Dallas on June 9, 1993 following 26 seasons in the State of Hockey, the franchise headed into uncharted territory. The National Hockey League would set foot in a place where it was unknown if the sport would be embraced. Re-named as simply the Stars, they would have to compete with one of the most high profile franchises in professional sports with the Dallas Cowboys. It was viewed as a tough task in itself at the time.

But with some initial on-ice success and established young stars such as the only remaining link left to the North Stars in assistant captain Mike Modano, fans in Dallas and across North Texas got behind the team and its fan base would grow. Hockey at the grassroots level would bloom and minor league teams would set up shop across the Lone Star State such as the Houston Aeros and San Antonio Rampage of the American Hockey League to name two examples. A third one would be the Dallas Stars' new AHL affiliate. The Texas Stars will begin play this fall at the new Cedar Park Center, located 17 miles northwest of Austin, Texas. More importantly, high school hockey programs across the Metroplex would be established and kids would play the sport. The Stars would be active in the community with the Dallas Stars Foundation and provide access for fans to use the Dr. Pepper StarCenter ice rinks across the region. The Frisco location is the Stars' official corporate and practice home, 25 miles north of Dallas.

With the building of its fan base and on-ice success in which the Stars made the playoffs in four of their first five seasons in Texas, we focus on the spring of 1999. With a Western Conference Finals loss to the defending champion Detroit Red Wings in mind, the Stars were on a mission to better that previous postseason campaign. They sure did.

Dallas would sweep away the Edmonton Oilers in four straight games, defeated the St. Louis Blues in six contests and then survived a hard-fought seven-game series to knock out the Colorado Avalanche to be the best in the West. So the Stars were in the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1991.

Having stopped all 23 shots he faced to break a series deadlock with a 2-0 shutout win over the Buffalo Sabres in Game 5 at Reunion Arena, goaltender Ed Belfour would have to take his game to the next level in order to secure the annual ultimate victory in Game 6 at HSBC Arena in Buffalo.

Ten years ago tonight, the Stars took the ice and battled the Sabres for nearly six full periods of hockey. Game 6 did not finish until past 1:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time on June 20, 1999 when before Brett Hull scored with 5:09 left in the third overtime to clinch Dallas' first-ever Stanley Cup championship. Belfour was remarkable in net as he outdueled Sabres goaltender Dominik Hasek with a 53-save performance. Hasek stopped 50 shots, but one too few.

Would you like to see full game highlights of the greatest game in Stars history? You sure can right here. One problem. You won't get to hear Gary Thorne's livecall of Hull's Cup-clinching goal on ESPN, but instead you'll have to settle with Bob Cole's on CBC.

video courtesy: NHL Productions

And if you loved the theme of the Stars' 1999 Stanley Cup championship video, you can see the opening montage featuring one of Metallica's hit songs "Nothing Else Matters". You can hear Thorne's livecall there where he says: "SCORE! SCORE! SCORE! They've won the Stanley Cup! Deep in the heart of Texas, the Stars are shining!".

video courtesy: NHL Productions

During the 2007 NHL All-Star festivities, the Stars held a reunion of the players from that championship team in front of a large crowd gathered in the AT&T Plaza outside American Airlines Center. This was the last time all the players were together at the same time.

video courtesy: Dallas Stars

All in all, it is certainly a wonderful memory to reflect back to for Dallas Stars fans as 10 years ago tonight was the greatest night in their team's history.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

New York Rangers' 1994 Stanley Cup title - June 14, 1994

While it has been barely over 24 hours since the Pittsburgh Penguins secured their third Stanley Cup championship in franchise history and first since 1992, very disheartened and envious New York Rangers fans can at least hang their hat on what happened exactly 15 years ago today.

The moment was June 14, 1994 at 10:58 PM Eastern Daylight Time. The site was Madison Square Garden in New York City. The final second had ticked off the game clock after Craig MacTavish had warded off Pavel Bure in the last faceoff to set off a massive celebration of ultimate victory.

The Rangers defeated the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 in Game 7 of the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals in one of the most watched hockey games on television in the modern broadcasting era. Whether you saw it locally on MSG Network or nationally on ESPN or CBC's Hockey Night in Canada, it would be the team's crowning moment of a long six-month journey. The quest was complete. The 54-year curse was no more. Mark Messier as captain led the charge in slaying that dragon which haunted the franchise for more than a half century.

The four members of that championship team who have their numbers retired were the four most important reasons why the mission was a success. In addition to Messier, Adam Graves scored a then team record-breaking 52 goals during the regular season, Mike Richter made a penalty shot save against Bure in Game 4 and Brian Leetch was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable playoff player, the first American to receive the honor. Their teammates also played vital roles in an historic trimuph where its memory will live forever.

As the Rangers players each hoisted the Stanley Cup over their heads, there was a sign a fan held up that night. It stood out among the capacity crowd of 18,200 fans (and God knows how many more actually in the building) which read "now I can die in peace". Enough said.

The sweep of the hated archrival New York Islanders began their playoff campaign. Next, it was the Washington Capitals. Then, the epic series in which their other hated archrival in the New Jersey Devils took them to the absolute limit before Stephane Matteau would score one of the greatest goals in franchise history just to get to the Stanley Cup Finals. And finally, foiling the Canucks' Cinderella run and denying them the chance to make this night the complete opposite of what it was. Had Vancouver won instead, it would've been one of the darkest days ever.

Thankfully, the night the Rangers won it all, it would go down as one of the greatest in New York City sports history. Fifteen years have passed since then, but at least it is always worth looking back and remembering the very best of times, something seldom seen with this franchise.

Rangers fans can tune into MSG Network tonight at 7:00 PM Eastern Time for a special edition of Hockey Night Live! for a special look back at the 1994 season. They can also read this article from the official team web site called "Stanley Cup Finals Flashback: June 14, 1994".

Here are two video clips to enjoy. First, the MSG SportsDesk pregame segment. Remember Bob Page and his commentating style?

video courtesy: MSG Network

And of course, THE moment...

video courtesy: NHL Productions

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

American Airlines Center to get "true HD" upgrade

As a Dallas Stars fan, you got to be excited about what is coming next season when you attend a National Hockey League game at the American Airlines Center.

No, it is not in reference to the team on the ice, but it is what you will also appreciate when watching them play. In a joint announcement by the Center Operating Company, an entity that runs the arena in a joint partnership between Stars owner Thomas Hicks and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban:

American Airlines Center, home of the Dallas Stars and Dallas Mavericks, today announced plans to install the first and largest 1080 high-definition video replay system in an NHL and NBA venue in the country. Digital video throughout the arena bowl will be increased by over 300 percent with the addition of a new high-definition center scoreboard and two stadium-sized video displays that will dominate the upper end walls. The new video displays will be manufactured and installed this summer and ready for the 2009-2010 hockey and basketball seasons."

As presented in the Stars' news release, this is what the American Airlines Center's new HD scoreboard will look like. (image courtesy of Center Operating Company)

In addition to the new video displays, a "new generation" audio system will be installed. It will have the ability to create custom audio effects. So when you watch a Stars or Mavericks game in the future, it will be a large-scale version of a home theater system. You're certainly paying the big bucks to attend a game, why not have that money well spent by the arena company to have the best sights and sounds to offer?

The American Airlines Center opened on July 27, 2001 at the construction cost of at the time a staggering $420 million.

"When we opened the doors of American Airlines Center in 2001, we told the fans that we would remain on the forefront of technology," Mark Cuban Companies vice president Martin Woodall said. "We've gone beyond that commitment, with the highest resolution and largest video screens ever installed in an arena and we're combining this with a new custom digital sound system to greatly enhance the fan experience."

video courtesy: Dallas Stars

What does this mean for the Dallas sports fan experience? Center Operating Company president Brad Mayne explains on behalf of Cuban and Hicks about the arena's new video and audio system.

"Mark and Tom continue their commitment to make improvements to the American Airlines Center. These improvements will maintain American Airlines Center's position in hosting the 'best of the best' in the NBA, NHL and concert events for many years to come. I applaud our owners, staff, Mavericks & Stars, along with our vendors for delivering the very best live experience available to the sports and entertainment industry."

These arena upgrades come six months before Dallas will host the 2010 NBA All-Star Game on February 14, 2010. This mid-winter event will have the majority of its activities at the American Airlines Center while the game itself will be played at the brand-new 80,000-seat Cowboys Stadium in nearby Arlington, Texas.

Among the other NHL arenas that now have high definition video screen displays on their overhead scoreboards include:

*TD Banknorth Garden in Boston
*HSBC Arena in Buffalo
*Bell Centre in Montréal
*Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey
*Wachovia Center in Philadelphia
*HP Pavillion in San Jose
*St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa
*Air Canada Centre in Toronto
*Verizon Center in Washington

General Motors Place in Vancouver has their Daktronics ProStar LED scoreboard screens as HD ready. The RBC Center in Raleigh is currently in the process of installing their new HD scoreboard.

It is really hard to believe it has already been eight years since American Airlines Center opened. It feels like it was only a real short time ago that the Stars were playing at the Reunion Arena on the southwest side of downtown Dallas.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

"Make It Seven" campaign song?

Sports Business Daily gave people a heads up about a brand new "campaign song" released by The GMOs in support of a seventh National Hockey League team in Canada.

It is not officially affiliated with the Make It Seven campaign, however it is a clear message in full support of it. While the exact timing of this song's unveiling seems the least bit coincidental, apparently this was another medium used to rally the Make It Seven hardcore fan base as the bankruptcy hearings take place. This comes as BlackBerry founder Jim Balsillie attempts to uproot the Phoenix Coyotes to Hamilton, Ontario.

video courtesy: The GMOs

Some people that watch this video may react to this message as being VERY nationalistic, polarizing and bound to offend Phoenix hockey fans as well as American hockey fans as a whole. There's a point to saying it's great to see Canadians are proud of their pastime, but you swear you would think this was a political campaign and not something we'd see for professional sports.

For those that are against the way that Balsillie has went about accomplishing his goal, this has angered them. The lone exception would be his very loyalist supporters, including those that are very bitter with the current state of the league and where certain franchises are located. The Coyotes are one of the teams targeted.

There are American hockey fans completely in favor of more teams in Canada. Many would support the return of NHL teams to Winnipeg, Québec City and even Hamilton. It would be great for the game. But some fans have unfortunately been sucked into a United States vs. Canada debate in regards to the viability of hockey markets in the Sun Belt region.

Will this campaign song effect the verdict to the Coyotes' future in Arizona? Very highly unlikely. Again, this is just another way to rally Balsillie's supporters.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Jerry Moyes talks to KSAZ-TV's Jude LaCava

Regardless of what you believe is true in the growing debate of what has transpired in recent weeks, months and years in how the Phoenix Coyotes as a franchise has fallen on hard financial times, fans should hear what outgoing owner Jerry Moyes had to say tonight to KSAZ-TV's Jude LaCava on FOX 10 SportsNight.

The timing of this interview may raise a few eyebrows considering the future of the Coyotes in Arizona hangs in the balance with Tuesday's upcoming hearing in downtown Phoenix. United States Bankruptcy Court judge Redfield T. Baum will listen to arguments from both the National Hockey League and Moyes about the legality of Moyes' Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing and if he is allowed to sell the team to BlackBerry billionaire Jim Balsillie. Without question, if Balsillie acquires the Coyotes, he intends to move them to Hamilton, Ontario.

Either way, Moyes may or may not be publicly disclosing every angle and detail of his case as to how he has kept the franchise afloat, but this might be just his way of getting his voice heard before a possible ruling in the bankruptcy court case.

video courtesy: KSAZ-TV

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Toronto Argonauts co-owners interested in buying the Coyotes?

While at first glance when learning of where this possible purchase bid for the Phoenix Coyotes comes from, one might assume it is for the same or very similar intentions that BlackBerry billionaire Jim Balsillie has made undeniably clear.

Toronto Argonauts co-owners Howard Sokolowski and David Cynamon have been named in a list of four potential buyers for the Coyotes, according to Paul Waldie of The Globe and Mail in Toronto. But get this. Sokolowski and Cynamon want to keep the team in Phoenix should they be the winning bid.

That is right. They do want to do just that.

It is not what you expected, did you? When you think of any Canadian investors looking to acquire the Coyotes, they wouldn't want to keep the team where they are after the Coyotes reportedly have lost up to $316 million since they arrived in Arizona, right? Apparently, not these two men who own the most successful Canadian Football League franchise in history with 15 Grey Cup championships, most recently in 2004.

National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman said the league has received a "preliminary background application" from each bidder according to court papers filed with the United States Bankruptcy Court. The deadline District of Arizona judge Redfield T. Baum set for both the league and outgoing owner Jerry Moyes was yesterday.

According to Waldie's article, an offer from Sokolowski and Cynamon would compete with Balsillie's current $212.5 million offer for the club and move it to Hamilton, Ontario.

Moyes filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on May 5th before a reported letter of intent for the league to agree to a sale to Chicago White Sox and Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf. As a part of his filing for bankruptcy, Moyes agreed to sell the team to Balsillie to recover some of the monetary losses he has suffered while he has been the Coyotes' majority owner. The NHL and Moyes have been in court for more than a month fighting for control of the struggling Phoenix franchise.

The next court hearing is set for June 9th at the United States Bankruptcy Courthouse in downtown Phoenix. The legality issue of relocation will be presented and heard. It is possible a ruling will be made to determine if either the NHL or Moyes went through the proper procedures in the sale of the club, who has the authority to do so and whether or not current NHL rules are enforcable in this case when it comes to the operation and sale of the club in its current location or if it can be moved to another city.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Consol Energy Center Hard Hat Tour

If you are a Pittsburgh Penguins fan, you have to be pretty happy these days. Your team just evened the best-of-seven 2009 Stanley Cup Finals at two games apiece by winning both home games at Mellon Arena so far in the series, AND... you have a new brand home to look forward to in just over a year from now.

NHL International announcers Dave Strader and Joe Micheletti joined NHL Network host/reporter Rob Simpson during their Cisco All-Access Pregame Show coverage to get a tour of the Consol Energy Center construction site prior to yesterday's Game 4.

video courtesy: NHL Productions

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Toronto expansion team idea back in news

If the prospects of bringing the Phoenix Coyotes to Hamilton isn't enough for hockey fans in southwestern Ontario to salvate over, Sean Fitz-Gerald of the National Post reports that a "mystery group" reportedly has $1 billion to spend on bringing a second National Hockey League team to the Greater Toronto Area.

Fitz-Gerald wrote in his article:

A mysterious group claiming to have $1 billion in private financing has scheduled a media conference for Friday morning to announce a "vision" for a National Hockey League expansion team in Toronto, touting a plan that has been in the works for five years.

In an ambitious media release issued Thursday, the group promises to discuss arena plans, as well as a team name and jersey. It is not known whether the group is the same one that met with NHL officials earlier this year to discuss plans for placing a team in the Toronto suburb of Vaughan.

According to the media release, the announcement Friday will also honour "Canadian heroes while supporting cancer research, national scholarships and children's charities."

The notion of a second team in Southern Ontario has been popularized by the bankruptcy proceedings in an Arizona court, where Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie is engaged in a war with the NHL to relocate the Phoenix Coyotes to Hamilton. Balsillie tendered an offer of US$212.5-million to buy the team last month, after owner Jerry Moyes filed the team for bankruptcy.

The NHL has protested, and all sides are scheduled to meet in front of Judge Redfield T. Baum again on Tuesday, in Phoenix.

"It's a completely separate item," a spokesperson for the new group said Thursday. "It's about an expansion team. It has nothing to do with any type of relocation of that nature. And it's for the 2012-13 season."

Whether or not this report leads to some tangible big news announcement on Friday morning in Toronto, it remains to be seen. This could end up as just another group of investors that unveil plans that may or may not see the light of day, but primarily to turn up the heat on the NHL to strongly consider the Golden Horseshoe region to have another team regardless of what happens to the Coyotes.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Open letter to Coyotes fans...

For anyone that has been a regular visitor to the Save The Coyotes campaign web site, you will find a great read today.

If you are someone that is a Phoenix Coyotes fan and/or support the cause to keep the team in Arizona, you can relate to Heather McWhorter, a Coyotes season ticket holder who is president of the Save The Coyotes Coalition and the author of Reflections from the Ice Hockey Diva blog. She wrote a very meaningful letter where it would be helpful in convincing her fellow fans the time is now to step up and fight for their team to stay right where it is.

At this point, that is exactly what the team needs while the National Hockey League and outgoing owner Jerry Moyes continue battle it out in United States Bankruptcy Court to decide the future of the franchise that has been in Phoenix since 1996.

Save The Coyotes campaign web site (June 3):
Dear Coyotes Fans