Posted on: July 26, 2011 1:46 pm
Edited on: July 26, 2011 1:52 pm

What's at stake: Islanders arena vote on Aug. 1

By Brian Stubits

Not since the 1980s have the Islanders seen a day as important as Monday. That's when the people of Long Island will take to the polls to address the issue of a new arena for the Isles.

Owner Charles Wang has been trying for a long time to secure a new place for his team to play, but this is it. He has said this is his final effort, and if the answer is no the team will pack up and move out. Nassau Coliseum just won't cut it anymore for the franchise after serving as its home for 40 seasons.

With only a few days before the vote, now is the time for the media blitz to bring attention to the effort. That's what Wang and the organization are doing for the next few days, campaigning for yes votes. The team website is having a contest for the best fan video, the above video being an example. Even the Blue Oyster Cult is pitching in.

So what exactly are the people of Long Island voting on? From the team's release:

  The plan, which includes a new arena to be constructed at the Nassau Coliseum site as well as a minor league ballpark, will generate 4,500 jobs and $403 million in profit for tax relief for Nassau County residents.

  The construction of a new sports arena, which, in part, hosts hockey season from October to April annually and a minor league ballpark stadium that hosts baseball season from April to October. This approach generates jobs and revenue year round. It is the seed of growing a sports-entertainment destination center in Nassau County.

  The new arena will also host a wide array of first-rate family shows and musical acts, including the circus and large-scale exhibitions. Other various improvements made to the surrounding area may involve the properties at Museum Row and the former Navy property near Nassau Community College.

  New revenue streams created by the new sports and entertainment complex to the tune of $1.2 billion will fill the county coffers and benefit tax payers. Islanders owner Charles Wang, in a unique partnership with the County will completely pay off the new arena, and there will be $403 million in profit for Nassau County.

It all sounds pretty good, but of course there will be taxes that will also contribute to the building. The emotional reaction of raising taxes is the biggest obstacle for the team to fight. Never mind the fact that losing the primary tenant of the arena will cause collateral damage to the area and arena, which will likely require taxes to help with the keep up and lost income.

But like any vote, it has its detractors. Local democrat majorty leader Jay Jacobs has been the biggest foe to the plan, trying to quash it. And in a rare example of when they can agree on money, Tea Party republicans are on the same side as Jacobs in opposition.

From Chris Botta at NYI Point Blank: "A Newsday poll declares that Nassau residents want the Islanders to stay, but 51 percent are against using tax dollars to fund the project. An additional 12 percent of residents are undecided."

With all that said, it's a very scary time for Islanders fans. Right now they are doing all they can to get the vote out, as even displaced fans are doing their part.

As somebody who saw his favorite NBA team relocate, it's never fun to see teams uprooted, let alone ones that have four championships to their credit. Here's hoping the Yes effort prevails.

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

Posted on: July 13, 2011 10:29 am
Edited on: July 13, 2011 10:52 am

Daily Skate: Doughty waits, Glendale sees reality

By Brian Stubits

IN THE Kings' COURT: Negotiations between the Kings and restricted free agent Drew Doughty are progressing a little slower than Doughty's side would like. One of his agents, Don Meehan, says he hasn't heard from the Kings (FOXSportsWest) since June 23. At first he understood the Kings had a draft, free agency and the trade market to take up their time, but that's all taken care of. A large hold up is the lack of a precedent, which could come in Shea Weber's arbitration. Until then, it would probably be best for Doughty and company to relax.

DESERT REALITY: Now here's a bad sign for the future of the Coyotes in Arizona. City of Glendale mayor Elaine Scruggs recently had an interview with a Phoenix television station in which she acknowledged it's time the city contemplates life without the Coyotes in town and in the city's arena. She also addresses the Matthew Hulsizer failed bid, basically blaming the local watchdog group the Goldwater Institute and its threat of a lawsuit for scaring away the NHL on a Hulsizer marriage.

BUYING THE Blues: The Coyotes aren't the only team up for sale at the moment. The St. Louis Blues are also on the market, but don't seem to be having quite the same troubles as they are in Arizona. The company in charge of the sale says "Things are definitely heating up" (STLtoday.com) in the search for an owner. Could that perhaps be because of the aforementioned Hulsizer entering the picture?

PENNER IS MIGHTIER: After his less-than inspiring stint with the Kings for the end of last season, Dustin Penner was informed by head coach Terry Murray that he would have to drop a few pounds and get in better shape. A horse at 6'4 and 245 pounds, Penner is apparently taking it serious, citing motivation of the Kings' potential (frozenroyalty.net) and the new additions to help spur him into shape.

DEAD ON: The art of the goalie mask design isn't dead, but it looks pretty damn awesome when it goes dead. Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Steve Mason shared the design of his cage for next year and while one half is somewhat routine (featuring the look of the Ohio state flag) the other half is anything but normal. Just have a look (Puck Daddy) at the Evil Dead 2-inspired motif.

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

Posted on: July 7, 2011 12:09 pm
Edited on: July 7, 2011 12:21 pm

Daily Skate: Islanders arena vote splits groups

By Brian Stubits

ON AN ISLAND: Aug. 1 will be a monumental day in Islanders history. That's the day residents vote on an arena proposal that will essentially decide the fate of the team on Long Island. Owner Charles Wang has previously said if he doesn't have a new arena for his team to play in by 2015, the Isles will relocate (and rename, I'd hope -- nobody wants another Lakers). But two local and influential groups can't agree on the plan that calls for Nassau County to borrow nearly $400 million, which ends up being about double that after interest. Newsday has the whole story.

WHAT A RIOT: After the Game 7 riots in Vancouver, the police said they were determined to detain and punish the hooligans who took part in the vandalism. Well, they are getting some help. The Vancouver Sun reports that 10 rioters turned themselves in to police this week, bringing the post-riot total to 34 people. Although as of now, none of them has been charged.

RICHER WITH RICHARDS: Previously in the Daily Skate, we shared with you a breakdown of how Brad Richards was a bad fit for the New York Rangers. In the interest of fairness, we now share Blueshirt Banter's opposing view and why Richards fits like a glove on Broadway. It starts with the obvious (past relationship with coach John Tortorella) and goes well beyond.

TAMBEL ON: Jeff Tambellini, who grew up in Vancouver, had a chance to play with the Canucks last season and came within a game of winning the Stanley Cup with the hometown team. But now he has to find a new home ... at least in the hockey sense. Not welcomed back by the Canucks, Tambellini has instead signed a contract with Zurich of the Swiss League.

INTO THE Wild BLUE YONDER: The Colorado Avalanche will return to something they did from 2007-09, playing their annual Burgundy-White game at the Air Force Academy this September (from the Denver Post. It's a great move by the Avs to their local Air Force members (the academy is located in Colorado Springs) as ticket sales benefit military families as well as Colorado youth hockey.

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

Posted on: June 28, 2011 11:05 am
Edited on: June 28, 2011 11:31 am

Daily Skate: Winnipeg ticket prices, RFA offers

COSTLY RETURN: Would you like to go see the Winnipeg Jets make their return to the NHL for the home opener in the 'Peg? Do you have $1,645 handy? A search of ticketcenteronline.com shows only two choices available for any tickets to the game against the Canadiens, and the other price is $1,839. I'd say they have the concept of supply and demand down pretty well.

MAKE IT EIGHT: With news coming out Monday that Matthew Hulsizer has withdrawn his bid to buy the Coyotes, speculation immediately began that that could have been the straw that broke the camel's back and the Coyotes' hopes of staying in the desert might have dried up. There's certainly hope in Canada that it means the Nordiques will be coming back to Quebec City. You might remember when Jim Balsillie was trying to buy the Coyotes that a site makeit7.ca was launched? Now, there's a makeit8.ca with as simple a web page as you'll ever see.

OVER-QUALIFIED: Want to know which restricted free agents were given qualifying offers and which, like Dan Carcillo, let go? Check the list here courtesy of Pro Hockey Talk. Keep in mind that any player who was not given an offer is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent when the market opens July 1.

MR. KENNEDY, JAGR WATCH: One restricted free agent who wasn't offered is Pittsburgh's Tyler Kennedy. But that doesn't mean he won't be back in the black and gold next season. Penguins GM Ray Shero says Kennedy wants to come back and he wants Kennedy back; it's just that arbitration or a qualifying offer wasn't the best option. What's more? The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that Jaromir Jagr and the Penguins have a handshake that he will return to the first franchise he called home.

SHARK THINK TANK: When the Sharks sent Devin Setoguchi and more to the Wild for All-Star defenseman Brent Burns, they undoubtedly upgraded the blue line. But they lost a top-line winger in the process. So fearthefin.com takes the task of figuring out who should take the spot next to Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. There is no shortage of names in the mix, from Dany Heatley to Ryan Vesce.

Flyers ARE FINE: Worried that changes the Flyers just made might damage their chances of winning the Stanley Cup? Senior vice president Bobby Clarke doesn't think you should be. It comes as no surprise, but Clarke believes the Flyers did exactly what they needed to do to get better and explains exactly why Philadelphia is in a better position now than at this time last week.

-- Brian Stubits

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl on Twitter or @BrianStubitsNHL

Posted on: June 27, 2011 6:27 pm
Edited on: June 27, 2011 6:34 pm

Report: Hulsizer no longer interested in Coyotes

The Coyotes' hopes of staying in the desert might have taken a critical blow on Monday.

The Phoenix Business Journal says that Matthew Hulsizer has pulled out of the negotiations to buy the franchise.

You might remember Hulsizer appeared close to purchasing the team until a Phoenix-area watchdog group objected to the city of Glendale's role in the sale. That put a serious stall in the talks, putting the two sides further apart. Eventually Hulsizer, who has been trying to work out an agreement since last year, grew weary of the process and no longer is interested in the Coyotes. However, the Business Journal says that he could turn his attention to another NHL team as he is still interested in being an owner.

Now, there appears to be just two buyers still in the hunt, according to the report. One, Jerry Reinsdorf, has been in and out of the picture since the NHL took control of the team two years ago. The other is an unnamed group. There is no information as to how far along the negotiations with either group are.

The NHL has been adamant that it wants to keep the Coyotes where they are, turning away potential owners like Jim Balsillie who wanted to relocate the franchise. But pretty soon, even Bettman will grow tired of the process and might consider opening up to owners not interested in staying in the desert. The cities that would figure to be leading contenders would be Kansas City with its arena sans a permanent tenant and Quebec City, former home to the Nordiques/Avalanche.

-- Brian Stubits

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl on Twitter or @BrianStubitsNHL

Category: NHL
Posted on: June 27, 2011 10:52 am
Edited on: June 27, 2011 11:20 am

Daily Skate: Jackets need Carter, Pens power

PUT ON YOUR JACKET:: Since Columbus went out and landed Jeff Carter from Philadelphia to finally get itself a top-line center, the All-Star has been quiet and seemingly avoiding his new home. At this point, he is yet to speak to GM Scott Howson, team officials or the media. Because of all that, fans are starting to worry that it could be another situation of a prized player coming to town and wanting out before he ever gets in. Bob Hunter of the Columbus Dispatch stresses the importance for the franchise and its fans that Carter get on board the C-bus.

Penguins POWER: One of the factors that brought down the Pittsburgh Penguins last season -- besides the injuries to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin -- was an abysmal power play. In the first-round playoff exit to Tampa Bay, for example, the Pens were just 1 of 35 with the man advantage. You don't need me to tell you that's beyond dreadful. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writer Dejan Kovacevic says Dan Bylsma knows as much, too, and he is already planning on multiple looks to find success. Kovacevic offers some of his own ideas, including a four-forward umbrella look.

WHO WANTS THE Coyotes?: The Coyotes, the city of Glendale, Ariz., and the NHL are still looking for a buyer to keep the team in the desert, but they have had more problems selling than Wile E. had chasing the Roadrunner. Matthew Hulsizer was close to acquiring the team in the past, and he's still in the mix. And, according to the Phoenix Business Journal so are Jerry Reinsdorf (who had seemingly withdrawn from the process) and an unknown third party. The two-year sales saga is far from over.

TWO FOR ONE: Hot on the heels of the NHL returning to Winnipeg, there is already talk of another team coming to town. The Calgary Sun suggests the idea of adding a Western Hockey League team to Winnipeg makes a lot of sense, noting that the WHL has long wanted to get back into the 'Peg and the two-team look has worked very well in Calgary and Edmonton.

WELCOME BACK: Ryan Smyth is now officially back with the Oilers and while he doesn't have his position on the team defined yet -- second or third line? right wing or left? -- GM Steve Tambellini knows what role Smyth will fill. Edmonton is expecting Smyth to come in and play the mentor role, teaching and leading by example, something Tambellini wanted to find for his young team. "I can't see any reason why Ryan won’t be a huge part of that. He's experienced. He understands this community. He understands where we are as an organization right now," Tambellini said.

SAND STAR: Tim Thomas has reached icon status in New England to the point people are making sculptures out of the guy ... in sand, that is. Check out this photo from the Master Sand Sculpting Competition of Thomas protecting the cage. It's no wonder he was almost unbeatable all year, look how big he is in the net.

-- Brian Stubits

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl on Twitter or @BrianStubitsNHL

Posted on: June 23, 2011 1:14 pm
Edited on: June 23, 2011 1:56 pm

Noel to take over coaching duties in Winnipeg

The new NHL franchise in Winnipeg still doesn’t have a name, but it now has a coach.

Claude Noel has been tapped to take over the team formerly known as the Atlanta Thrashers, The Winnipeg Free Press and other outlets reported Thursday afternoon.

Noel most recently coached this past seaosn with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose, which played at MTS Center. The building will also be home to the city’s new NHL team. He went 43-30 in his lone season with the Moose, who fell in the second round of the playoffs.

Noel, whose NHL career as a player spanned seven games, coached 24 games in the NHL after he took over for Ken Hitchcock, who was fired by the Columbus Blue Jackets during the 2009-10 season.

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images 
Posted on: June 21, 2011 3:47 pm
Edited on: June 21, 2011 5:44 pm

NHL approves sale, relocation of Thrashers

Winnipeg cleared the final hurdle to reclaim an NHL franchise on Tuesday as the NHL's board of governors approved the sale and relocation of the Atlanta Thrashers.

North Sports & Entertainment was the only serious bidder for the Thrashers, who had been on the block for a couple years. After the ownership group sold 13,000 season seats in a matter of a few days, the approval by the NHL at a meeting in New York appeared to be just a formality.

“We deeply regret that Atlanta’s ownership was unable to secure local partners after exhausting every option and alternative,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. “At the same time, we are delighted that NHL hockey is returning to Winnipeg and to a fan-base that already is showing so much support for its team. We congratulate Mark Chipman, David Thomson and True North on their patience, their preparation and their professionalism, and we look forward to the start of a new era for the franchise.”

As The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Chris Vivlamore reports, the meeting took place not far from where Atlanta --- which had lost already lost the Flames to Calgary --- was awarded the expension franchise a dozen years ago. 

The official end of the Thrashers came in a hotel conference room at the Westin at Times Square – almost 1,000 miles from the city where the team spent 11 seasons. The vote of the league’s governing body came four days shy of the 14th anniversary of a similar meeting in New York, just 12 blocks away, when Atlanta was awarded an expansion franchise. Atlanta was a shoe-in for one of four new teams, along with Columbus, Minnesota and Nashville, because its bid included solid ownership in Turner Broadcasting/Time Warner, the nation’s largest television market without an NHL team and a new arena. The Atlanta Spirit began looking to sell the Thrashers soon after buying the franchise, part of a purchase from Turner that included the NBA’s Hawks and the operating rights to Philips Arena. Reported losses of $130 million over six years, dwindling attendance and the failure to make the playoffs in 10 of its 11 seasons were major issues. As the search for an owner willing to keep the Thrashers in Atlanta failed, the Atlanta Spirit opened negotiations with True North. The deal was completed in less than a month after the NHL approved the start of talks.

“It’s pretty emotional,” Thrashers president Don Waddell said. “You know it’s coming and you try to prepare for it but this is the final straw that broke the camel’s back. We have to find the positives and move forward but it’s difficult.”

Winnipeg will play in the Southeast Division ---  along with Carolina, Florida, Tampa Bay and Washington -- next season. The NHL will undergo realignment before the 2012-13 season.

The Winnipeg franchise next must pick a team name and tap a new coach.

The NHL holds the rights to the Jets --- which adorned Winnipeg’s previous NHL franchise before it moved to Arizona and became the Phoenix Coyotes in 1996 --- and there’s been a major push in Manitoba to bring back that name back. new Winnipeg GM Kevin Chevelday is currently in the process of hiring a new coach since Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay will not be retained.

-- A.J. Perez

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl on Twitter

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com