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from Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News,
We apparently have Weeknight Flu in this town. I just watched the Sabres play last week on a Monday night in Dallas in front of a roaring crowd of more than 18,000. And that's a city that's far pricier, has much worse traffic and was charging $35 for its garage parking. ...
Folks here just want Friday nights or weekend afternoons. As someone who travels, I can tell you that's a Buffalo thing. The buildings are full in most cities on most nights.
The Sabres are 29th out of 32 teams in total attendance and dead last in attendance percentage. They went into Wednesday's game playing in front of just 76.4% of capacity. There are 17 teams at 96% and up, and 22 teams at 93% or higher.
The Sabres aren't revealing their season ticket base but judging by their lowest numbers of the season, you can interpolate it's grown from about 6,500 last year to somewhere around 9,000 this year. Obviously, they have to work to get that higher, whether it's through new purchasers of the full package of lots of folks combing from packs of various sizes.
Winning helps that. Entertaining hockey helps that. You'll have to wait for next season, based largely on the result of this one, to see what kind of bump they get.
You do wish people would be more interested in seeing the Sabres now, and not so focused on the opponent. But people have been burned so much the last 11 years, and even some nights this season, that a big buy-in is simply not going to be automatic.
There is a lot of crabbing about individual game pricing and it's justified. The dynamic pricing model, which makes the price of a hockey ticket play hopscotch over the course of a day, is becoming an industry standard in sports and it's a scourge.
The Sabres should be above it. It comes off as a scam. If I want to see Carolina on Feb. 1, the price of a ticket should be the same on Nov 1, Dec. 1 or Jan. 1. It's not. There shouldn't be upwards of 30 prices for tickets for a game based on location, row number. That's too many.
* Sebastian Aho and Brent Burns continued their recent strings of success as the Hurricanes captured their seventh straight victory and entered the All-Star break with their second double-digit point streak of the season.
* Defensemen accounted for two of five goals as the NHL-leading Bruins bested their division rivals to secure their 39th win of the season and join rare company in the process.
NEW YORK (Feb. 1, 2023) – New Jersey Devils center Jack Hughes, Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak and Seattle Kraken defenseman Vince Dunn have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the month of January.
from Jimmy Murphy of Boston Hockey Now,
One NHL source though confirmed that the Detroit Red Wings were also in on the Horvat NHL trade sweepstakes at one point, but opted out earlier than the Bruins and the other mystery teams because they weren’t allowed to speak to Horvat and his agent Patrick Morris about an extension.
Could the Red Wings’ interest in Horvat pave the way for the Bruins and other NHL teams to make a push for Detroit Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin?
The 26-year-old, 6-foot-1, 198-pound center is in the final season of a five-year contract that carried a $6.1M AAV and has a no-trade clause that kicked in this season. After scoring 31 goals and finishing with 69 points in 71 games last season, Larkin has 15 goals and 28 assists in 47 games this season. His best season came in 2018-19 when he had 32 goals and 41 assists in 76 games.
“By all accounts, it doesn’t look good for Dylan Larkin staying in Detroit,” the source said of the negotiations between Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman and the pending unrestricted free agent. “That’s why they’re exploring other options there.”
According to Larkin’s agent Pat Brisson though, things don’t seem as dire between the Red Wings and his client.
“I’m not alarmed at all,” Brisson told hall of fame puck scribe and Detroit Hockey Now Red Wings reporter Kevin Allen last Thursday. “We are talking more the last few weeks.”
That hasn’t quelled the NHL trade speculation around Larkin though, and on Tuesday an NHL pro scout opined to BHN that he thinks Larkin could make tons of sense for the Bruins if they feel like there’s a strong chance Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron and fellow center David Krejci are in their last hurrah.
from Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet,
- Clearly, the Canucks have identified their core — Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes, Miller, Andrei Kuzmenko. Things can change if someone gives them reason to pivot, but actions speak and these are the key Canucks. (There are conversations about extending Ethan Bear.) Other than that, they’re listening on a few interesting things.
Let’s see how things play out when goaltender Thatcher Demko returns. The fact he’s signed with a bit of term makes him attractive, and teams will want to get a feel for what Vancouver is thinking. Buffalo, Columbus, Los Angeles and Pittsburgh all make sense. The Sabres and Blue Jackets can afford to be patient — they are thinking long-term — but others would need to know he can make a spring 2023 impact, particularly with the price to be paid. Will there be enough runway before March 3 to convince buyers Demko is ready?
There are repeated rumblings linking Brock Boeser and Minnesota, but the math doesn’t make sense as things stand. I do think there are teams who like Tyler Myers’ nastiness, but in a tight cap world, that might wait until the summer.
- Carolina wasn’t adding Horvat without the possibility of an extension. Depending on how roles shake out on Long Island, would the Hurricanes pivot to Pageau? Certainly feels like a Rod Brind’Amour-esque player.
- I wouldn’t say New Jersey is the team to beat on Timo Meier, but it’s clear teams know the Devils are very much in it. The biggest balancing act for them might be their salary structure. It sounds like they prefer to have no forwards above Jack Hughes’ $8-million AAV — or at least not blowing that out of the water. That’s not only a consideration for Meier, but also Jesper Bratt.
- The biggest challenge for the Golden Knights is mental. They went through this last year, seemingly safe in January, only to get riddled with injuries and cap pressures, completely submarining their season — missing the playoffs. Calgary is five back with a game in hand, Nashville eight with three in hand for the wild card. It’s not DEFCON 1, but four points in their last eight games brings back the bad memories, the jitters, the doubts, “Are we doing this again?” You’ve got to block out the negative. Legendary Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Chuck Noll had a great saying: You don’t have to be extraordinary. You just have to do the ordinary things extraordinary well.
from John Niyo of the Detroit News,
For Yzerman, though, that’s just one of many inflection points here. Is Bertuzzi part of the true core of the Wings’ next Cup contender or a bridge that’s about to be crossed? And what about selling high on Filip Hronek, who has been one of Detroit’s most effective players this season and won’t be a restricted free agent until 2024? The Wings reportedly were in the bidding for Vancouver's Bo Horvat, a top-line center who was dealt to the Islanders on Monday, so is Yzerman, who also has plenty of cap space to work with, ready to make a similar splash at the deadline?
We’ll know a lot more about where Yzerman thinks the Red Wings really are in another month. And as Larkin noted before heading to Florida as the Wings’ lone All-Star for a second straight year, there’s still time to influence his decisions, perhaps.
“That’s my hope," Larkin said, "is to see this thing through and to stay in it and make going to the rink meaningful every day down the stretch."
But, if that sounds like a stretch, well, it probably is. Because, as Perron, one of Yzerman's key additions back in July, put it Friday night after the loss to the Islanders, “There’s a reason why we’re not there yet in the standings. And that means usually you’re not there yet as a team.”
* The Hurricanes erased a multi-goal deficit in the third period to win for the second time in five days and Sebastian Aho scored in overtime to help the club match its best 50-game start to a season in franchise history.
* Carolina recorded the NHL’s 96th multi-goal comeback victory of 2022-23 – tied with 2018-19 for the third most in a single campaign before the All-Star/Olympic break. The 2009-10 (99) and 2005-06 (98) seasons are the only ones with more.
* Thirty years ago today on Feb. 1, 1993, Gary Bettman took office as the first Commissioner in NHL history and has since presided over 55% of all games in League history.
from Kevin Allen of Detroit Hockey Now,
At the start of the season, you could make an argument that the Red Wings could probably get a package that includes a first round pick for Bertuzzi. Now the first-round pick seems less guaranteed, although there is a certainly a romance with Bertuzzi’s blend of offense and spunk.
Bertuzzi feisty playing style seems perfect for the postseason. Plus, his $4.75 million salary is easier to move than some of the other big-name salaries. Yzerman could make Bertuzzi more attractive by eating half of the salary/cap hit. If a team can get a player they think can fit into the top six forward group for a $2.375 million cap hit, they might sweeten the offer.
Here are five teams that might be interested in Bertuzzi:
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Maple Leafs were rumored to be interested in Bertuzzi last season. He can give them more bite for the playoffs and might be nice fit playing with John Tavares. Bertuzzi’s hard-to-play against style should work well in a playoff series, although he has not gotten any playoff experience wearing a Detroit jersey.
The TSN Hockey Insiders discuss how Bo Horvat is open to contract talks with the Islanders, how the trade interest in Brock Boeser hinges on salary retention, the IIHF's plans to discuss the status of Russian players in future major hockey tournaments, and much more.
from Tim Graham of The Athletic,
Otherworldly flexibility was only part of his mystique. A spindly 5-foot-11 and less than 170 pounds, he filled the net with his quickness, competitiveness and fearlessness.
“By now, Dom is 6-3 or 6-4 and 155 pounds!” Martin Biron, Hasek’s former teammate, said. “He gets taller and skinnier over the years.
“He has achieved legendary status, where stories are being told that aren’t true but people still believe. You don’t hear that about Patrick Roy or Marty Brodeur so much. But you hear all these stories about Dom because he was so unique and great.”
Larger than life, he relied upon every bit of his scrawny frame, every wit of research, every stitch of padding to deny his opponents. He would ditch his stick to cover the puck with his blocker hand. Forehead saves were on purpose.
from Max Bultman of The Athletic,
ÄNGELHOLM, Sweden — Marco Kasper is early, because of course he is.
It’s a few minutes before 4 p.m., and inside the local Espresso House — the Nordic Starbucks — Kasper is already seated near a towering potted plant and a window. The Red Wings’ 2022 first-round pick is here to meet a visitor from the other side of the world, to talk about his season and himself. He also needs to find a moment to eat — with him are a carton of overnight oats and a bottle of lemonade.
“Didn’t get too much lunch today,” Kasper says, “because I had to practice, school, back to practice.”
The second practice isn’t an everyday occurrence, but otherwise, that’s life right now for Detroit’s precocious young center prospect: go, go, go. He’s a professional athlete here in Ängelholm, a small, hockey-loving city in Southwest Sweden, but he’s still going to school anyway — both because he wants to finish his education and because, in Kasper’s words, “to think about something else sometimes is also good.”
If that perspective seems unusually sage for an 18-year-old, well, that’s Kasper: Teammates call him mature beyond his years, and his on-ice play backs it up.
Just months after shedding the cage on his helmet, the tell-tale mark of a junior player, Kasper is among Rögle’s most relied-upon forwards in the SHL. In addition to his 19 points in 38 games — the most among all U20 players in the league — he’s a plus-12, which leads the team.
from Iain MacIntyre of Sportsnet,
When he was traded Monday by the only National Hockey League team he has played for, Bo Horvat was starting a long-planned family holiday at Disney World before reporting for this weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.
It was a chance, he told Sportsnet on Friday before leaving Vancouver, to unplug from the stress and craziness of a disastrous Canucks season that had the team’s 27-year-old captain swirling at the epicentre of trade rumours since it began.
Horvat and his wife, Holly, were having custom All-Star Game jean jackets made for their small children, Gunnar (2 ½) and Tulsa (9 months), with the Canucks logo on them.
“Keepsakes,” Bo explained.
The last of them, it turns out.
On Monday, Vancouver traded him to the New York Islanders for winger Anthony Beauvillier, centre-prospect Aatu Raty and a conditional first-round draft pick. When Horvat flies to New York on Sunday night, instead of turning west to practise with the Canucks in New Jersey, Horvat will head east to meet the Islanders on Long Island.
The Canucks checked all the boxes on their trade wish list: a solid, proven NHL player in Beauvillier who is two years younger than Horvat, an A-grade prospect in Raty who has already logged 12 NHL games this season and a first-rounder.
It is the biggest in-season trade for the organization since holdout Pavel Bure was sent to the Florida Panthers in 1999. That was five general managers ago for the Canucks. This is a massive transaction that will, one way or another, define the Jim Rutherford-Patrik Allvin era.
* Josh Morrissey and Mark Scheifele each found the back of the net twice to help the Jets earn their first multi-goal, third-period comeback win of the season in their final contest before the All-Star break.
* With 2023 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend just days away, #NHLStats previews the Atlantic Division roster, which features two representatives from the host Panthers: Matthew Tkachuk and Aleksander Barkov.
* Sebastian Aho and the Metropolitan Division-leading Hurricanes will put their respective streaks on the line when they host the Kings, who sit two points back of first place in the Pacific Division, on a three-game Tuesday.
“I’m in net and he’s coming down the ice in Chicago,” the 79-year-old Daley began. “And he’ll flick one at your head, because I had no mask on, and give you a wink. And then the next time he’s coming down the ice, he’d drive one about two inches off the ice and you’re already stretching for the heavens, and he gives you the smile.”
-Joe Daley, former WHA and NHL goaltender on Bobby Hull. Paul Friesen of the Winnipeg Sun has more, like this..
The stories of domestic violence would come later. As would an interview in which he was quoted as making pro-Nazi and racist comments, views he quickly denounced, saying the quotes were inaccurate.
Daley understood why those questions were coming, too.
But on this day, he wanted no part of them.
“I’m not going to talk about something that I’ve heard,” Daley said. “And the man is dead now. I’d rather talk about what he meant to me and hockey in general. I think that’s the proper thing.”
NEW YORK (Jan. 30, 2023) – Ottawa Senators right wing Claude Giroux, Toronto Maple Leafs right wing William Nylander and Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending Jan. 29.
from John Dietz of the Chicago Daily-Herald,
Bobby Hull, the Blackhawks' all-time leading goal scorer, died Monday morning, two people close to Hull told the Daily Herald.
No other immediate details were available. Hull just celebrated his 84th birthday on Jan. 3.
The controversial Hull, who possessed a howitzer of a shot that allowed him to score 610 NHL goals, broke into the league in the 1957-58 season. He scored 30 or more goals for 13 consecutive seasons then left for the World Hockey Association in 1972 when the league agreed to pay him $1 million.
Hull, Stan Mikita and others led the Hawks to a Stanley Cup title in 1961.
Below watch a Legends of Hockey feature on Hull.
from Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic,
Welcome to NHL99, The Athletic’s countdown of the best 100 players in modern NHL history. We’re ranking 100 players but calling it 99 because we all know who’s No. 1 — it’s the 99 spots behind No. 99 we have to figure out. Every Monday through Saturday until February we’ll unveil new members of the list.
It should surprise no one that the player teammates and fans call “The Perfect Human” delivers a scouting report that’s, well, rather good.
Nicklas Lidstrom writes up the reports as part of his duties as the vice president of hockey operations for the Red Wings. Can you imagine getting to read the observations of a seven-time Norris Trophy winner?
“You know what, they’re excellent,” Steve Yzerman, executive vice president and general manager of the Wings, told The Athletic.
Yzerman remembers his former teammate as more of a quiet listener during their playing days. Now that they work together in the same front office, he’s gleaned more from Lidstrom’s brilliant hockey mind.
“I read his reports, and we talk about players, sit with him at games, he’s — not surprisingly — very, very astute and notices everything,” Yzerman said. “His scouting reports on players, I value them. I enjoy reading them. … He knows the game, he knows players and he knows what to look for.”
Yzerman approached Lidstrom about joining the job last season, which led to the official hire a year ago this month.
One of the greatest defensemen in NHL history, who checks in at No. 8 in The Athletic’s rankings of the best players in the modern era, was ready to roll up his sleeves and get to work.
* John Tavares joined Tim Horton on a rare franchise list by recording two points in his 1,000th career NHL game.
* Brent Burns also skated in a milestone contest and assisted on the winning goal as the Metropolitan Division-leading Hurricanes picked up a fifth straight victory.
* Mark Scheifele can reach the 30-goal mark when the Jets host the Blues on Monday.
A good way to wrap up the trip.
from Mark Lazerus of The Athletic,
The Blackhawks, you see, don’t care about your tank. They don’t care about the draft lottery. They don’t care about Connor Bedard. Not in the slightest. And they’re having quite a bit of fun messing with general manager Kyle Davidson’s (smart, if cynical) grand design.
“That’s why we play the game, right?” said defenseman Seth Jones, who’s been bristling at the very idea of losing to win since Day 1 of training camp. “We’re trying to win every game we play. We’ve got to control what we can control in here, and obviously the front office, they control that.”
That, of course, is a concerted effort by the franchise to finish in 32nd place this season, in order to ensure a top-three pick in a highly touted draft and secure the best odds of drafting Bedard, the kind of rare talent who could dramatically alter the Blackhawks’ future for the better.
That, is what commissioner Gary Bettman hilariously denied happens in the NHL. But Bettman, ever the lawyer, chose his words wisely, specifically saying that players don’t tank, that coaches don’t tank. And he’s absolutely right. Richardson said it himself, right after he was hired, that he was going to try to make things as difficult as possible for Davidson, and Davidson welcomed the defiance.
Does he still welcome it now that the Blackhawks are entering their bye week having won a modest-yet-sort-of-stunning seven of their last 11 games, bringing Columbus, Anaheim, Arizona and San Jose back into the race for the bottom?
from Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post,
If the Avs can bury the hatchet with Ryan O’Reilly, they can raise the Stanley Cup together.
Yes, O’Reilly left Colorado in 2015, his relationship with the Avs broken by acrimonious bickering about money.
But eight years is enough.
All is forgiven, my wayward son.
Make a trade for O’Reilly and the Avs would not only have the second-line center they’ve been missing since Nazem Kadri left town, but there wouldn’t be a team in the Western Conference that could prevent Colorado from advancing to the Stanley Cup Final.
After sleep-walking through a championship hangover and slapping BandAids on a roster beset by injury, center Nathan MacKinnon sat in the Avalanche locker room looking forward to some R&R at the beach before reporting for all-star festivities in Sunrise, Fla.
“We’re just trying to weather the storm of injuries. We’re confident if we can get in (the playoffs), we’ll have a good chance,” MacKinnon said Saturday, after Colorado turned back a late push from St. Louis in a 4-2 victory.
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