Tag:Relocation
Posted on: January 31, 2012 3:25 pm
Edited on: January 31, 2012 3:29 pm
 

Islanders announce preseason game in Brooklyn

By Brian Stubits

There was talk a few weeks back about the Islanders playing a preseason game at the brand new Barclays Center in Brooklyn before next season. The building is so new it isn't even open yet.

It's more than just talk now.

On Tuesday the Isles announced that they will play the first NHL game in Barclays Center, an Oct. 2 exhibition against the New Jersey Devils. If the speculation wasn't strong enough already about the arena in Brooklyn being a new home for the Islanders in a couple of years, it's sure to ratchet up now.

“We’re extremely excited to play the first NHL game in the new, state-of-the-art Barclays Center,” Islanders General Manager Garth Snow said. “We already have some of the most passionate fans in the league supporting our young team, and we are looking forward to expanding our base into Brooklyn.”

The high amount of intrigue in a preseason game, of course, surrounds the viability of Barclays as an NHL arena and the possibility of it being a new home for the Isles considering their past failures to secure a new arena in Nassau County.

And it's actually led to some politicking from Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark.

"It will be good for the Islanders to see what playing in a state of the art venue feels like," Yormark said. He continued by saying "We'd love for Charles to consider Brooklyn." He's talking about as a home for the Islanders and Charles refers to Isles owner Charles Wang.

Not to be outdone, Nassau County politician Ed Mangano, who spearheaded the effort to get a new arena built in Uniondale, weighed in on the team's upcoming visit closer toward Manhattan.

“I hope their experience in Brooklyn reaffirms why they should be playing hockey in Nassau County," Mangano said.

No matter how well it might or might not go for the Islanders in the exhibition, the one big hurdle to clear with the Barclays Center is the hockey seating capacity of only 14,500, less than Winnipeg's NHL-lowest MTS Centre. But considering the Islanders are averaging 12,670 this season, I don't see much of a problem. Supply and demand economics would make the tickets more valuable if they start hitting capacity.

What do you think: Is this the start of the Islanders getting a new home? They would still be on the Island, that beats a lot of other locales.

More from Eye on Hockey

Bettman: Would be malpractice if Isles move
Report: Barclays Center, NHL execs meet
Brooklyn's viability as a home
Arena vote fails: What's next for Isles?

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: January 12, 2012 4:09 pm
Edited on: January 13, 2012 12:09 am
 

Report: Isles planning preseason game in Brooklyn

By Brian Stubits

Nobody knows where the New York Islanders will call home in a couple of seasons when their lease at the Nassau Coliseum is up. The people of Nassau County had the chance to make the voice hear on a new arena and they voted no, the latest in a long line of rebutted attempts by owner Charles Wang to get a new home for his team.

Since then, the future of the organization has been murkier than a swamp. That kind of uncertainty doesn't help Garth Snow build a franchise that can win in the long run (as if he needs any more obstacles).

However one of the possible options for a new home is further down Long Island toward Manhattan and the new Barclays Center going up in Brooklyn to host the NBA's Nets. That building isn't without its concerns too, such as a small seating capacity and potentially poor sight lines.

Well, the Islanders might find out pretty soon how viable the arena could be as a home. From CBS New York's WFAN:

Sources told WFAN.com on Thursday that the Islanders are in discussions to host a preseason game next season at the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the future home of the NBA’s New Jersey Nets.

This is not the first time the Islanders have used another venue to push the reality that at the end of the 2014-15 season their lease with Nassau Coliseum ends. During the 2008-09 season when Kansas City was considered their hot relocation destination, the Islanders announced they’d be taking on the Los Angeles Kings in a preseason game the following season at the brand-new downtown Sprint Center.

If so, it'd be very interesting. If the game goes well, the front-runner (in my book) to land the Islanders could take a huge step toward being the Isles' new home. It would be a chance to answer some of the questions that loom about the arena hosting an NHL team permanantly. One of those however, that of small attendance, would remain. If the Isles made the Brooklyn arena home in a couple of years, it would be the smallest capacity in the NHL, below even Winnipeg's MTS Centre.

This could be the next step in relocating the Islanders only a few miles instead of a few hundred or even thousand miles. They can't afford to wait until the lease runs out, the uncertainty is too damaging both to the product on the ice as well as off of it. And as mentioned, the Islanders don't need any more road blocks.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: December 24, 2011 12:38 pm
Edited on: December 25, 2011 4:33 pm
 

Top NHL stories and moments in 2011

By Brian Stubits

There was a lot of good in 2011, but also a lot of bad. By bad, I really mean tragedy. It was an unforgettable yet forgettable year all at the same time.

As we hit the heart of the holiday season, here is a look back at the year that was in hockey with the top 10 moments/storylines of 2011.

10. Summer acquisitions -- This is when the magic happens in the NHL's salary cap world and franchises are made or destroyed.

It was over the summer that two teams in particular built the nucleus for their surprising starts this season, the Minnesota Wild and Florida Panthers. Minnesota was the host for this year's NHL Entry Draft and really did leave an impression. Not only did they come away from the draft with a few new prospects in their system but they also swung a deal to land Devin Setoguchi from the San Jose Sharks for Brent Burns. The Wild swung another deal with the Sharks that landed them Dany Heatley for Martin Havlat. Of course their biggest summer acquisition might have been the hiring of head coach Mike Yeo.

The Panthers meanwhile continued to use the draft to make their system better and also swung a big trade, taking on Brian Campbell's big salary from the Blackhawks in exchange for Rostislav Olesz. That kicked off a wild spending spree that lasted through free agency and the core of the team that's in first in the Southeast was built just like that. Like the Wild, they also found themselves a new coach who has returned big dividends early in Kevin Dineen.

The unrestricted free-agent class was led by the pursuit of Brad Richards, who eventually signed with the New York Rangers after a day of courting, including from the Maple Leafs while GM Brian Burke was in Afghanistan. But the most intrigue was on the restricted front where Steven Stamkos' future was wildly speculated before re-signing with the Lightning and Shea Weber stayed with the Predators after the biggest arbitration award ever.

A couple weeks in the middle of the year set up the last couple of months in the year and even with what was perceived as a weak free-agent class, this year was no different.

Look back: Free-agency tracker

9. Winter Classic -- As sad as it is to think about, games hardly ever are the top stories in sports any more. But in hockey, the Winter Classic will always matter, it's that big of a showcase and spectacle for the NHL.

As is the case with every Winter Classic -- as fans of all the less-fortunate teams will remind you -- it was a marquee matchup of two high-profile teams from the East with the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins. The Caps eventually prevailed in a game that might be the most memorable Winter Classic thus far for a variety of reasons, one of them makes an appearance later on this list.

But first of all the lead up to the game featured the first 24/7: Road to the Winter Classic series on HBO and it was riveting. While technically most of it aired in 2010, it is tied in with the Winter Classic so it counts. It left fans anticipating the next version like a kid awaits Christmas, this year's version featuring the Flyers and Rangers.

Mother Nature also left her mark on the game. It was the first Winter Classic thus far that the weather was so uncooperative that they had to delay the start of the game. Unseasonably warm temperatures and rain in Pittsburgh led to the game being pushed to the night and it did provide a pretty memorable setting at Heinz Field. 

Look back: Caps win Winter Classic 3-1

8. Realignment -- While the fruit of this labor will be seen starting in 2012, it was a large conversation for the entire second half of the year, spurred by a development that appears further up this list.

I don't know if there was a person in hockey -- both within the game and covering it -- that didn't have their own idea for how the realignment should be done. In the end the six-division format was blown up, an effort that was from all accounts led by Gary Bettman himself.

The biggest drama in the whole saga revolved around the Detroit Red Wings' desire to move to the Eastern Conference. Well, without an Eastern Conference to move to any more, I guess you could say that was taken care of.

Look back: NHL announces realignment

7. Lokomotiv plane crash -- The KHL is to the NHL as the NHL is to ESPN. That is to say the only time we ever seem to hear about the KHL is when something bad happens.

Unfortunately, that was the case this summer when the airplane carrying the KHL's Yaroslavl Lokomotiv team barely got airborne before it crashed, killing everybody on board except a member of the flight crew.

The tragedy was already tough enough for the hockey community in North America simply for the fact sheer sadness of the lethal error. But what made it really hit home in the NHL was the number of former NHL players who died in the crash.

Among those who died in the crash were Josef Vasicek, Karlis Skrastins, Ruslan Salei, Pavol Demitra and head coach Brad McCrimmon, all of who were in the NHL at some point in their careers. In the case of McCrimmon he was a member of the Detroit Red Wings coaching staff as recently as last season before he took the chance to be a head coach in Russia.

Nothing from the ordeal was more chilling than the sad, sad story from a professional driver in Dallas who was tasked with picking up the family of Skrastins to drive them to the airport hours after the tragedy. Honestly, I'm getting emotional just thinking about it again. It was truly a horrible day for hockey.

Look back: Lokomovit team plane crashes

6. Vancouver riot -- For the second time in as many Stanley Cup trips for the Vancouver Canucks, the hockey-crazed city erupted into a violent storm following its team's loss in the decisive Game 7. A similar eruption happened in 1994 after the Canucks fell to the New York Rangers.

The night began with a massive gathering in the streets of Vancouver for the fans to all watch the game together on a big screen. Many saw that as an ill-fated moment from the start and boy were they right. Soon after the game and season were finished, the hooligans of Vancouver were just getting started.

Looters took to the streets to cause mayhem, and cause mayhem they did. The result was a night full of rioting embarrassing to the city, a lot of videos to live on in YouTube glory (like this classic), at least 25 people being charged (including Miss Congeniality) and the romance, sports and maybe general photo of the year, the "riot kiss" seen up above.

The unfortunate part (OK, one of them) was the fact that the riot completely overshadowed what was really a great postseason and season for the Canucks. Vancouver was the best team all regular season long and as fine of a year as they ever have.

Look back: Riot erupts after Stanley Cup Finals

5. Brendan Shanahan takes over -- There has been no bigger overarching story in the second half of the year than what Shanahan has been doing as the new head of player safety having replaced Colin Campbell. His arrival on the job has coincided with the attempt to expand and clarify Rule 48.1, the one dealing with headshots. The focus has also been ramped up on boarding.

His impact has been felt from the get-go. In the preseason he was very busy and then really sent some shock waves through the league when he suspended Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman James Wisniewski for eight games.

It's at the point now that every questionable hit is immediately scrutinized and I'm still not sure if that's good or bad. Obviously the good is that it continues to put a microscope on bad hits in an attempt to rid the game of them. On the bad side, some clean hits get more attention than they should and the consistency of punishment applications has been a bit bedeviling, just ask the Sabres fans.

However Shanahan has done something that I've yet to find a person complain about and that's making videos for each and every suspension wherein he explains exactly what the thought process was that led to the decision. The first one he made in the preseason was a breath of fresh air and welcome transparency. All season he's been a busy, busy man.

You know you've watched a lot of Shanahan suspension videos when you can recall that he has done videos in front of three different backdrops and you can tell when he gets a haircut.

Look back: A look at Shanahan's handy work

4. Winnipeg Jets return -- At one point, it looked like the old Jets -- the Phoenix Coyotes -- were going to be the team to move to Winnipeg. Fans were elated as it seemed that with a clear potential ownership group and new, albeit small, arena, the NHL would be coming back to the 'Peg after 15 years.

Then they pulled a little switcheroo on everybody when the Coyotes announced they were staying in Phoenix for another year, so attention turned to the Atlanta Thrashers. A few transactions later and hockey was back in Manitoba (and the NHL had to realign -- Winnipeg in the Southeast?).

The push was one to rename the team the Jets like the old franchise in town and after much debate, the fans won out, although a new logo would be introduced. Not lacking in flair, the Jets showed off their new uniforms in an unveiling at a military base with the players wearing the new duds walking out of a cargo plane.

The first game of the Jets. 2.0 came in their new home at the MTS Centre and they fell in defeat to the Montreal Canadiens, but you couldn't tell. The great hockey city that is Winnipeg was happier than a pig in you-know-what just to have the NHL back. When Nik Antropov became the first player to score for the new Jets, the roar was deafening. Maybe the best way to measure the city's appreciation and love for having hockey back would have been with decibels.

After a slow start (again, they were the Thrashers) the Jets have really come to find a comfort on home ice, as many thought they would. With a 12-6-1 record at home this season, the Jets have the best home mark in the Eastern Conference next to Boston's 13-6-1. It seems that a little excitement really can go a long way.

Look back: Thrashers relocate to Winnipeg

3. Sidney Crosby's concussions -- This was the biggest development to come out of the aforementioned Winter Classic in Pittsburgh. Sidney Crosby caught an elbow to the head from the Capitals' David Steckel that rocked the game's best player pretty good. He certainly appeared out of sorts but was back in the lineup a few days later against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

A check from Victor Hedman led to Crosby experiencing another concussion and he didn't play again for the rest of the season. He finally did return to game action in November, playing eight games before being shut down again for post-concussion symptoms.

Before he went down, Crosby was on pace for one mammoth season. To illustrate how good he was playing before the injury, he still finished the season as the Penguins' leading scorer by a whopping 16 points despite playing only 41 games.

For literally almost a year, the hockey world sat and waited for word on Crosby returning. There was speculation he could come back for the Penguins' playoffs games. There was talk that he might retire. None of that happened, but what did do was bring another reminder of the seriousness that are concussions.

It's not good business for the NHL when the top players aren't on the ice, let alone the best player. I'd like to think it isn't the case, but you have to wonder if Crosby's absence didn't go a long way in facilitating the NHL's actions on trying to remove bad hits as well as enacting strong concussion protocols.

The way the Penguins have handled the Crosby situation has been one of the best parts of all -- or maybe the only good part, depending on your point of view. They have been incredibly patient the entire time, insisting they didn't want to do anything to jeopardize Crosby's health and future.

But because of his most recent setback, Crosby Watch 2011 will move on into Crosby Watch 2012.

Look back: Crosby's recovery efforts

2. Deaths of Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien, Wade Belak -- The NHL's summer of sorrow began in late spring when the tragic news came down of New York Rangers and former Minnesota Wild enforcer Derek Boogaard's death. The autopsy concluded he died of a lethal mix of alcohol and Oxycodone.

Later in the offseason the NHL was then shook by the news of deaths of Rick Rypien and Wade Belak, separated by only two weeks. Both players were fighters themselves, each suffered from depression and both apparently committed suicide (Rypien's was classified as such, Belak's death treated as such by Toronto PD).

The news of their deaths was sad and shocking in their own right. These were all players 35 or younger who all shared a role in their hockey careers. It was also a catalyst for the discussion of fighting in hockey. No tie can be drawn between each of their deaths and fighting, but it at least begged the question.

Since the three players died, the conversation has picked up. It was really spurred along by the New York Times' in-depth piece that looked at the life of Boogaard and the study of his brain. The findings of the Boston University lab found Boogaard's brain was already showing signs of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, a deterioration of the brain due to repeated blows to the head.

Look back: Boogaard | Rypien | Belak

1. Bruins win Stanley Cup -- If he didn't already have the designation by all before, Tim Thomas certainly earned it in the playoffs. He is the best goalie in the world.

Thomas pretty much put the Bruins on his shoulders and carried them past the Vancouver Canucks in a great seven-game series that led to the Bruins hoisting their first Stanley Cup in 39 years. Of course Thomas topped it off with a shutout in Game 7 and took home the Conn Smythe as the playoff MVP, an incredibly well-deserved award.

But in addition to Thomas, it was one heck of a series. The first six games were won by the home team. We had one game ending a few seconds into overtime. Who can forget the man that scored that goal, Alex Burrows, was caught biting Patrice Bergeron in a scrum and the resulting taunts at Burrows from the Bruins later on.

There was Nathan Horton getting leveled and concussed in Boston in a moment that some feel changed the series. The Bruins responded to that by running the Canucks out of their building in Games 3 and 4. Horton made another impression when he was seen pouring TD Garden ice on the rink in Vancouver before Game 7, a superstitious move that will live in Bruins lore.

We had Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo pumping Thomas' tires after critiquing his aggressive style in net. Then of course item No. 6 on this list, the post-series riot in Vancouver.

The series was about as memorable as it gets. The ratings were as good as they have been in decades, too. And the Bruins' post-championship romp back in New England became a legend with a reported $156,679.74 bar tab that included one Amstel Light. It kicked off a great summer tour with the Cup for the Bruins, Michael Ryder's Cup mishap included.

There is no disputing the Bruins earned the right to lift Lord Stanley's Cup after one great Final.

Look back: Bruins win Stanley Cup

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.


Posted on: December 4, 2011 12:11 pm
 

New realignment proposal keeps Atlantic together

By Brian Stubits

In the next few days, we might actually have some serious progression in the realignment talks. The Board of Governors are going to discuss that (among other things) in the next few days in Pebble Beach, Calif. ... assuming they can stay off the links.

Entering the meetings, there appeared to be two principle ideas at play in the realignment talks. The first was the simplest, moving Winnipeg to the West and putting Detroit in the Southeast, a one-way swap and that's it. Simple, clean-cut, but a bit messy when it's done. Teams in the West don't want to lose the Red Wings and they don't exactly seem to fit with the Southeast Division.

That led to a lot of people favoring a more "total realignment" in which the six-division format would be blown up in favor of a four-division look and balanced schedule. Heading into the meetings, this was considered to be the proposal for the four-division look. But the Penguins and Flyers weren'texactly on board with that one.

Now we have another idea floating, according to Elliote Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada. This one is the same concept as the previous four-conference (notice the change in language) look, it just moves the teams separately. Notice how the Flyers and Penguins stay together along with the New York-area, Atlantic Division teams while Washington and Carolina join them. That leaves the five Northeast Division teams to join the two remaining Southeast Division teams in Florida, the Panthers and Lightning.

What's interesting to notice is that, in continuing to view it as an East and a West, the West becomes the bigger "conference." The two divisions with eight teams would be made up by the teams already in the West and Winnipeg, the reason for the card shuffling.

There is only so much you can do with the teams in the East while trying to keep the ones smack dab in the middle, geographically speaking, together. It does seem a bit inconvenient to put the two teams from Florida with the Canadian and Northeast teams. They already travel a lot, this would probably only increase that.

But they might fit a little better than you would originally think. There are large snowbird populations in Florida during the hockey season, and having lived in South Florida for nine years, I can tell you a lot of them hail from Quebec. Try and get tickets the day before a Canadiens-Panthers game at the BankAtlantic Center. You can't (at least through traditional means), the game will be sold out.

So this now begins to look like a slam dunk, right? The Red Wings at least get their home-and-home series with every team in the league, the Stars get into a more time-zone friendly "conference" and the playoffs return to their old divisional format and there is flexibility for a possible move of the Coyotes. All is good, right?

Not entirely.

Larry Brooks of the New York Post reports that while they don't actually have a say in the matter, the NHL Players Association isn't fond of the plan. The reason? This will increase travelling for just about every team. That's one argument.

The other is the unfair nature of two divisions of eight and two divisions of seven. The teams in the seven-division format have greater odds to make the postseason. That's one reason why baseball recently flipped the Houston Astros to the American League West, to even out the odds of postseason play.

But something has to get done. No plan will sit well with every team involved, that's obvious. Remember, they just need to get a 2/3 majority among the BOG to push through a plan.

This one here seems as good as any. You could be looking at the future alignment of the NHL.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: November 16, 2011 4:52 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2011 6:59 pm
 

Plan unveiled in hopes of bringing Whalers back

By Brian Stubits

Could the Hartford Whalers return to the NHL? The question has been asked every day since they left for Carolina in 1997.

But where there's a will, there's a way. And there is definitely a will from Howard Baldwin, the CEO of the Connecticut Whale, and now he's trying to find a way.

This week Baldwin revealed a plan to renovate the XL Center and completely upgrade it as well as the surrounding mall. The building is old and out of date, so before an NHL team could ever return, the arena issue would have to be taken care of. That's the idea for Baldwin.

The tough part, as with any arena idea, is the public funding. Baldwin's plan calls for $105 million of it to execute the plan. Especially in today's economic climate, that's one tall task.

Even more important according to Hartford Courant writer Jeff Jacobs is that the number of $105 million be accurate. If it's wrong, it could spell trouble. Read Jacobs' entire story for full details on the arena plans as well as a video with artist renderings and more from Baldwin.

So before you crank up the Brass Bonanza again, temper the enthusiasm. First of all, even in Baldwin's ideal world, the Whalers don't return until 2017. Assuming that the NHL liked the arena enough and was willing to commit to the Hartford market again, there would still be an issue of a team.

There seems to be a waiting list right now to be the next hockey market. Quebec City is the hottest host candidate, especially with a new arena in the works. Kansas City is begging for a primary tenant in its new arena. Seattle, Las Vegas and Houston are lurking in the background as well.

As far as teams in danger of relocating, it appears only the Coyotes fit that mold right now. The Islanders would be in the conversation, but I am all but convinced the commissioner won't let the Isles leave the New York area. Although Hartford wouldn't be a far relocation, it would be about a three-hour drive from their home now, not exactly close enough to keep the fan base.

But in the meantime, keep the hope alive, Hartford. I think it would please a lot more than the people of Connecticut to see the Whalers back in the NHL. Just in case the Whalers do come back, make sure the old logo returns.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: November 15, 2011 3:47 pm
Edited on: November 15, 2011 3:55 pm
 

Protection of goalies hot topic at GM meetings

By Brian Stubits

What better time than after the Hall of Fame ceremony for the GMs to gather and discuss the issues of the day? After all, most of them are already in town for the festivities anyway.

The item on the morning agenda of the meetings? It truly was the top issue of the day: goaltender safety. Spurred by the Milan Lucic hit on Ryan Miller, the rules regarding goaltenders outside the crease have been a hot topic. While the rulebook clearly states a goalie is not fair game anywhere on the ice, it has been a muddy conversation.

From the sounds of Blues GM Doug Armstrong, it was more a matter of clarification than anything else for the GMs.

“Just want to make sure that we’re all on the same page, that when they’re out on the open ice, that they’re going to be protected,” Armstrong said. “We do want continued play in front of the net, but we want to make sure that when they’re outside the [blue] ice, that they’re protected.”

The best way that people are describing the protection of goaltenders is to draw the parallel to football and the quarterback. In football, the QB has become like an endangered species, seemingly any affront to his safety has been squashed. Drives a QB into the ground after a pass? Personal foul. Same goes for when a scrambling QB slides to the ground.

“In my opinion, I think we have to [protect goalies like QBs],” Penguins GM Ray Shero said. “I’m not talking about plays around the crease, because there will be incidental contact ... We’re talking about a regular season game, we’re talking about the incident with Lucic and Ryan Miller. You get into a playoff series and if these guys are going to be coming out to play pucks, and you can run them over and get a two-minute penalty, then I think you’re going to open up a pretty dangerous set of circumstances.

“Several of the general managers just brought up the fact there’s only 60 goaltenders in the league, and we have to be pretty careful in terms of, if they’re going to play puck outside the crease, what should be fair,” Shero said. “We’ll continue to look at it, and probably talk about it much more at the March meeting, as well.”

Is it a bit reactionary? Of course. The Lucic/Miller incident is fresh and was pretty uncommon. But the reactions after the hit proved the need for some clarification on the matter, even if it was as simple as getting rule 69.4 spread around for everybody to see.

This is where Brendan Shanahan's decision not to suspend Lucic, for the hit comes into play a bit. Many, myself included, believed that if nothing else a token suspension was called for against Lucic, something to make it clear that goalies can't be run over. But Shanahan believed Lucic did not intend to hit Miller and that it was more of an unfortunate collision. He reiterated the point to the GMs that goalies will be protected and offenders could still be suspended. From Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com:

"Shanahan told GMs that players should NOT read into Lucic ruling that goalies are fair game. Quite the opposite, Shanahan warned GMs."

The GMs don't want to see more incidents like it and want to nip it in the bud now before frontier justice like that alluded by Sabres coach Lindy Ruff knocks another goaltender out for a period of time. I believe for most GMs it's a matter of self-preservation if anything else (in this case self being their team's interests).

“That’s going to be the message to our team -- the goalies are not fair game,” Shero said. “If the guy’s going to play it outside the crease, you have to be pretty careful.”

Perhaps I'm too cynical, but I believe the root of that statement from Shero comes out of the fear of losing Marc-Andre Fleury for some time.

As for rest of the meetings, also on the schedule was the 1-3-1 trap that caused such a stir last week after the bizarre scene between the Flyers and Lightning which led to a stalemate. To that, Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman gave a reasonable response, saying they don't want to overreact to something that has only happened once. Perhaps Flyers GM Paul Holmgren put it best: "I'd like to see us attack the situation a little bit differently than we did last game."

The other big item on the docket was realignment, something Flyers chairman Ed Snider brought up again in Toronto. But right now that's all just chatter among the GMs. The decision on realignment will made at the Board of Governors meeting in December.

All of these conversations and more will get hashed out again in March the next time the GMs gather.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: November 15, 2011 11:41 am
 

Flyers chairman Snider expects total realignment

By Brian Stubits

It's been a while since our last realignment update. When last we left you, the Flyers and Penguins were sharing their displeasure with any proposal that had them in separate divisions/conferences.

All along, the reports have said the NHL was looking to do as little as possible in regards to moving teams. In a perfect world for the powers that be, the Jets would be moved into the Central, perhaps the Blue Jackets go in the Southeast and you call it a day.

But life isn't that simple. There is the pressure of the Red Wings to move East. There is also the looming uncertainty of the Coyotes in Phoenix and whether they might move to, say, Quebec City.

Throw all of the above angles into a crockpot with the other spices affecting the situation added in and you have "total realignment" cooking, according to Flyers chairman Ed Snider.

“There has to be,” Snider told Tim Panaccio of CSN Philly about total realignment. “But our traditional rivalries will always be with us no matter how it is realigned. I’m pretty confident of that.”

Perhaps the reason for his confidence in that is his belief that the Pennsylvania teams will remain together, something which the proposal that was reportedly gaining steam did not feature.

“We’ll be together without question, if under a four conference set-up,” Snider predicted of the Flyers and Penguins. “We will have all our traditional rivals and some others in a four-conference setup.”

The question begs: what is total realignment? Could that be a situation where conferences aren't divided by east and west but instead split seemingly at random like the NFL and MLB? Does it mean a return to the four-conference format, as Snider alludes to? Does it mean Florida is joining the Northwest Division?

I think about the only thing we can safely assume is that "total realignment" would include the abolition of the six-division format currently in use. I wouldn't rule anything else out at this point (OK, I guess I'd rule out that Florida-to-Northwest, too).

If I had to put money down I'd expect to see the four-conference format that we used to enjoy, and not just because Snider hinted at it. I think it could give the league the most flexibility in the case of a Phoenix move to the East.

The idea has been discussed already of having unbalanced conferences a la Major League Baseball (although it looks like that won't remain as the Houston Astros are reportedly moving to the American League). Assuming that enough franchises would be happy with that idea, the realignment starts with 15 teams per conference and then they could easily flip to the unbalanced, 16/14 look with simply switching the Coyotes franchise to the East after their hypothetical move. If they stay, then you keep balanced conferences.

When this is all said and done, I can't imagine everybody will be happy. But such is life, the teams with the most clout -- Philadelphia and Pittsburgh each fall into this category -- are much more likely to get their way.

Photo: Getty Images

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Posted on: October 25, 2011 11:22 am
Edited on: October 25, 2011 11:23 am
 

Bettman: Would be 'malpractice' if Islanders move

By Brian Stubits

Gary Bettman doesn't think the Islanders are going anywhere.

The commish made a stop on Mike Francesa's show on WFAN in New York and among other things, he discussed the plans to keep the Islanders where they are (not Nassau Coliseum, but Long Island).

"I refuse to accept that this team is not going to get a new building at some point," Bettman said. "[Owner] Charles Wang is committed to the Island, committed to the Islanders. He's devoted almost a decade of his life, tens of millions of dollars in pursuit of this and fortunately there are a few years left. They're not going to stay in the Nassau Coliseum no matter what, so we're going to need to come up with a solution somehow, somewhere."

That's all encouraging for Isles fans to hear. Nobody wants to lose their team.

Bettman continued:

"The team needs a new building and there has to be concrete plans on the horizon that's going to get it done otherwise we're going to have a problem," Bettman said. "I don't know exactly how we're going to solve that problem, but it's inconceivable to me that the Islanders wouldn't be on Long Island because it would be malpractice for those in charge to let that happen."

This part made my ears perk up. A "malpractice" if the Islanders were to leave New York? Well yes, I'd agree. However, why wasn't it a malpractice for the Thrashers to leave Atlanta, or the Whalers to leave Hartford? Bettman's answer probably would be simply that it was a malpractice in those spots too, but don't you think they would have liked to see the commish fight the same way?

The only differences between the Thrashers and Islanders is that the Isles didn't always suck and they are in New York. Then just swap ownership issues for arena issues and you have similar stories. It's just Bettman doesn't seem willing to let this one end the same way Atlanta's did. Which is good. I've stated many times that I don't like the idea of contraction or relocation (although at this point I think I'd be willing to bend on Phoenix).

You can listen to the entire Bettman segment here. One thing Bettman does well is interview on the radio. Just don't ask him to act in any commercials.

H/t to ESPN New York

Photo: Getty Images

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