The latest NHL expansion news, plus updates on Victor Hedman, Jimmy Howard, Patrick Sharp and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL expansion news.
TSN: Media group Quebecor’s bid to bring an NHL franchise back to Quebec City won’t be hurt by the declining value of the Canadian dollar, which is currently hovering around .74 cents USD. The current expansion fee for an NHL franchise is $500 million USD, which in Canadian dollars is currently $670 million. Quebecor chairman and former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney is leading the charge in his company’s attempts to land an NHL team.
NBC SPORTS: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman claims the league isn’t prepared to put a timetable on expansion, let alone if the league will accept new franchises. He dismissed rumors the league hopes to add new teams by 2017.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: On the one hand, the league has an opportunity to collect a combined $1 billion USD from Quebec City and Las Vegas in expansion fees, which go directly to the 30 existing NHL owners and isn’t counted as hockey-related revenue. On the other, the league is ensuring the proposed markets are capable of sustaining NHL franchises over the long term. Of course, expansion is coming, and I daresay we’ll see new teams by the end of the decade. However, I can’t help wondering if the league’s patient approach is tied to Seattle, where there are ongoing plans to construct a new arena. The league would love to put a franchise into the Pacific Northwest, and Seattle could be a viable hockey market, but so far there’s no indication yet that ground will soon be broken on a new arena, let alone if there’s a serious bid to come from that city.
Other notable NHL headlines.
TRIBLIVE.COM/THE TAMPA TRIBUNE: The Pittsburgh Penguins downed the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2 during a Kraft Hockeyville preseason game in Johnston, Pennsylvania, which was the location for the famous 1976 movie Slap Shot. It was a costly loss for the Lightning, as defenseman Victor Hedman left the game in the second period with an injury. He’s to be evaluated today.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: It’s been a terrific preseason so far for the Blue Jackets line of left wing Brandon Saad, center Ryan Johansen and right wing Nick Foligno.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Keep an eye on that line this season, folks, because I’m expecting it will be one of the hottest in the NHL. They could lead the Blue Jackets back into playoff contention.
DETROIT FREE PRESS: Goaltender Jimmy Howard has looked sharp in preseason action as he jockeys with Petr Mrazek for the starter’s role.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some starting goalies need to be pushed to bring out their best. The threat of losing the starter’s job to Mrazek seems to be providing additional motivation for Howard, which will only benefit the Wings this season.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Former Blackhawks winger Patrick Sharp is transitioning well with his new team, the Dallas Stars. Sharp was dealt to the Star during the offseason.
PHILLY.COM: Flyers forwards Sean Couturier and Michael Raffl are dealing with upper-body injuries, while backup goalie Michal Neuvirth is expected to be ready for tonight’s preseason tilt against the New Jersey Devils.
NEWSDAY: New York Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey has been sidelined for a month with an upper-body injury.
NORTHJERSEY.COM: New York Rangers enforcer Tanner Glass could be skating on thin ice as the club prepares to make its final round of roster cuts for the upcoming season.
STARTRIBUNE.COM: Promising Minnesota Wild defenseman Mike Reilly is showing promising improvement.
CALGARY SUN: Retired NHL defenseman Robyn Regehr has returned to Calgary, where his NHL career began, to run his oilfield equipment rental company.
WINNIPEG SUN: Former Winnipeg Jets center Jim Slater has signed with Geneva Servette of the Swiss-A League.