Blackhawks defeat Lightning in Game One of Stanley Cup Final, Penguins could be up for sale, highlights of Commissioner Bettman’s “state of the league” and more. 

 

Antoine Vermette (lower right) celebrates his game-winning goal against the Lightning.

Antoine Vermette (lower right) celebrates his game-winning goal against the Lightning.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE/THE TAMPA TRIBUNE: Late third-period goals by Teuvo Teravainen and Antoine Vermette lifted the Chicago Blackhawks to a 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game One of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final. Alex Killorn scored the lone goal for the Lightning, who dominated the first period but ceded control of the game to the ‘Hawks over the remainder of the game. Chicago goalie Corey Crawford made 22 saves, including a key stop on Ryan Callahan’s breakway with 8:20 remaining in the third. Game Two of the series is Saturday in Tampa Bay.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning learned a valuable lesson in Game One: you cannot sit back on a 1-0 lead in a playoff game against a deep, experienced team like the Blackhawks. If Callahan scored on that breakaway it would’ve put the Lightning up 2-0 and perhaps changed the outcome of this game. However, for most of the third period the Lightning seemed content to sit on their 1-0 lead, generating only two shots on net (including Callahan’s breakaway attempt) until a late flurry in the third.

Game Two will be critical for the Bolts. Throughout this year’s playoffs, they’ve never been behind by a two-game deficit. They cannot afford to let that happen in this series against such an experienced foe like the ‘Hawks. If they drop Game Two, they’ll face the daunting challenge of trying to rally in Chicago. I’m expecting a more determined effort from the Lightning in Game Two. The Blackhawks are undoubtedly expecting it. 

NBC SPORTS: The league is investigating an allegation that Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw bit Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman during a first-period scrum in Game One of the Stanley Cup Final.

POST-GAZETTE: Pittsburgh Penguins owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle “have retained the financial services firm Morgan Stanley to “explore their options,” which include selling all, some or none of their controlling interest in the National Hockey League franchise.” A source close to the situation said there’s no likelihood the franchise will be relocated. Forbes Magazine recently evaluated the value of the franchise at $565 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This situation isn’t even remotely close to the last time the Penguins were up for sale, when relocation was often mentioned in the same breath. It seems like Lemieux and Burkle wish to cash in while the value of the franchise is high. Lemieux apparently wants to retain a small portion of his share in order to remain a part of the organization. 

SPORTSNET: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman admitted for the first time the salary cap number for 2015-16 will depend upon the NHLPA membership voting for their annual five-percent salary escalator. He projects the cap could be in the range of $70-$71 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bettman’s projection have steadily declined since his December forecast of $73 million, which he acknowledged even then depended upon the value of the Canadian dollar. If the PA votes against employing its escalator clause for next season, they and the league will have to meet and agree on a cap ceiling number suitable for both parties. That could be $70 million. 

ESPN.COM: Bettman also said the formal process for expansion could begin if approved by the Board of Governors at their June 24 meeting in Las Vegas. He cautions, however, that doesn’t mean the league will in fact begin adding new franchises. Las Vegas, Seattle and Quebec City could be potential expension sites.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: While the league is publicly denying it, most observers believe the league will expand to 32 teams (preferably in the Western Conference) by the end of this decade. Las Vegas seems the most likely expansion candidate. Quebec City is constructing an NHL-ready venue, while Seattle remains in the planning stage. 

THE BOSTON GLOBE: Bettman is also no fan of the current compensation rules regarding team executives. “We put into effect the new policy with the potential for compensation on Jan. 1, and we’ll let it run a full year before we consider doing anything,’ said Bettman. “At that point in time, the options will be to clarify, to modify or to eliminate.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Expect the compensation policy to change next year. 

TSN.CA: Deputy commissioner Bill Daly denied a recent rumor suggesting a current NHL franchise could relocate at the end of this month.

OTTAWA CITIZEN: Senators owner Eugene Melnyk was released from hospital. He underwent a liver transplant on May 19. He and his donor are said to be recovering well.

CSNNE.COM: It’s rumored the Boston Bruins could formally announce Claude Julien will remain as head coach by perhaps the end of this week.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings are expected to name Jeff Blashill, coach of their AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids, as their new head coach, with a formal announcement coming next week.

NEWSOBSERVER.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes have released their preseason schedule.

STLTODAY.COM: The St. Louis Blues released their preseason schedule.