NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 18, 2023
NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 18, 2023
The fallout from the Coyotes’ failed arena bid, Eastern Conference Finals starts Thursday, plus the latest on Lindy Ruff, Ken Holland, Mike Sullivan and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE COYOTES?
ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes will play in Mullett Arena for 2023-24 amid uncertainty over the club’s future in Arizona after their bid to construct a new arena in Tempe was rejected in a public referendum.
Coyotes president and CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez released a statement to season-ticket holders indicating the franchise has “started re-engaging with local officials and sites for solidify a new permanent home in Valley.”
GOPHNX.COM: Craig Morgan examined possible “Plan B” options for the Coyotes.
One would be partnering with the Phoenix Suns and moving back to their old arena, now called Footprint Center. However, they would be a tenant in someone else’s building leaving them with the same revenue issues that forced them to leave in 2003. He doesn’t see them building a new downtown venue and thinks it’s a stretch that Suns owner Mat Ishbia would purchase the Coyotes.
Mesa is another possibility though that would also require a public vote of approval. Reservation lands is an option but could be complicated given the state’s gaming laws plus they wouldn’t own the land. Morgan does not see the Coyotes returning to Glendale.
Morgan believes it would take a while to facilitate one of those options and time is not on the Coyotes’ side. He pointed out that the NHL Board of Governors isn’t happy with the club’s current arena arrangement and its effect on hockey-related revenue while the NHL Players Association is unhappy over the players competing and training in substandard facilities.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes’ time in Arizona appears to be running out. Unless a suitable local arena option can be found quickly they’ll have no choice but to relocate within the next couple of years.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ryan Kennedy wonders if Salt Lake City might be a destination for the Coyotes. It’s been a minor-league hockey town for decades.
Ryan Smith, the owner of the NBA’s Salt Lake City Jazz, recently said he’d met with Bettman about the possibility of bringing an NHL franchise to his city. The Coyotes could play in Vivint Arena, home of the Jazz.
SPORTSNET: Salt Lake City topped Paul D. Grant’s list of five potential destinations for the Coyotes. Houston, Sacramento, Kansas City and Oklahoma City are also on the list. He considers Quebec City to be a pipe dream.
THE SCORE: Sean O’Leary included Milwaukee, Atlanta and Toronto on his list.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The best hockey market would be Quebec City with its 18,000-seat state-of-the-art arena and a strong hockey fan base. However, it would also be the NHL’s second-smallest market and that’s not enticing to league commissioner Gary Bettman and the league’s board of governors.
The only reason the NHL returned to Winnipeg (the league’s smallest market) is that there was no local buyer to take on the financially ailing Atlanta Thrashers and no other potential owners in larger markets willing to purchase the club at the time. True North Sports & Entertainment had quietly lobbied for an NHL franchise for several years. They were in the right place at the right time.
That’s not the case now. The success of expansion franchises in Las Vegas and Seattle could draw bids from potential owners in several of the American-based cities listed above if the Coyotes have to relocate.
NHL.COM: Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final between the Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers starts tonight in Raleigh at 8 pm ET.
TSN: New Jersey Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald confirmed Lindy Ruff will return as the club’s head coach next season. Ruff is in the final season of his current contract but he’s already in the midst of negotiating a new deal with the Devils.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers general manager Ken Holland said he intends to honor the final season of his contract. “I’m enjoying the challenge, I have a year to go and I have unfinished business,” said Holland, who dismissed conjecture suggesting that he might hand over the GM reins to assistant GM Steve Staios. “I’m not sure where all the speculation comes from,” he said.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sometimes it comes from well-connected insiders within the media. Sometimes it comes from pundits musing out loud (“I wonder if…”). And sometimes it comes from questionable sources.
NEW YORK POST: Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan confirmed he’s not a candidate for the Rangers’ vacant coaching job. “I am under contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins, here for the long haul,” he said in a phone interview with Mollie Walker.
THE SCORE: Speaking of the Penguins, the Calgary Flames rejected their request for permission to speak to former Flames GM Brad Treliving, who stepped down from the role last month. Treliving remains under contract with the Flames until the end of June.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins defenseman Hampus Lindholm said that he played with a fractured foot during the playoffs as well as the final few weeks of the regular season. It’s why he declined an invitation to join Sweden in the IIHF World Championships.
DAILY FACEOFF: Andrew Brunette, Spencer Carbery and Mike Velluci are among the candidates for the Anaheim Ducks’ coaching gig.
WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: The Capitals are also believed interest in Carbery, an assistant coach with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
DAILY FACEOFF: Former NHL defenseman Ron Hainsey has been promoted to NHLPA assistant executive director. Hainsey was part of the search for the group’s appointment of Marty Walsh as their new executive director.