Doan Remains in Phoenix

It has taken one of the league’s most coveted free agents all summer to decide on his future, but he has finally come to a decision.  The current captain of the Phoenix Coyotes has decided to remain with the club by signing a 4 year, $21.2M contract that also included a $2M signing bonus.

Doan received many offers this summer including the New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Vancouver Canucks just to name a few teams.  Money wasn’t an issue, but rather an issue of where he wanted to spend the next few years living and playing hockey.  These many options took a lot of time to carefully go over.  The Coyotes poor financial situation where they may be heading to bankruptcy or be sold had a lot to do with this too.

But in the end, Doan decided to remain loyal to his team and resign in Phoenix.  He said, “I’m extremely excited about remaining a Coyote.  I was drafted by this organization and it means a great deal to me to be able to play with the same franchise my entire career.”

There is no doubt Doan is a very talented player.  He can be counted on to provide at least 50 points every season.  But, Doan’s presence is felt more than just on the score sheet.  As a 17 year NHL veteran and current captain, Doan has a very strong voice inside the locker room.  He is one of the most respected players both on and off the ice by all teammates, opponents, and officials.  The younger players on the team look up to him to set a good example for work habits and level of play.

The Coyotes GM Don Maloney spoke on finally signing Doan to a new contract.  He said, “We are thrilled to sign Shane to a long-term contract.  Shane is our captain and the heart and soul of our franchise. He is the consummate professional and one of the best leaders in the NHL. His loyalty, commitment, integrity and passion for the game epitomize everything you’d want in a player. It was a priority for us to sign him to a long-term deal so that he can play for the Coyotes for the remainder of his career.”

Though they are near bankruptcy, the Coyotes made it to the Western Conference Finals last season before losing to the eventual Stanley Cup Champions Los Angeles Kings.  Goaltender Mike Smith emerged as a strong starter after he had a stand out year.  Martin Hanzal, recently acquired Antoine Vermette, and Keith Yandle also played a big part in the team’s success.  With Doan back in the mix, they should be able to compete and make a deep run in the playoffs this upcoming season.

Hopefully Doan’s loyalty to the team will encourage fans to do the same and support the team so they won’t have to transfer to Quebec or Seattle.

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Capitals Sign RFA Carlson

The Washington Capitals announced they have agreed to a contract with RFA defenseman John Carlson.  The deal is 6 years, $23.8M in which he will earn $3.8M the first year and $4M the following five years.

The Capitals took a big step in locking up their defensive core for the next several years.  Earlier this summer, they extended defenseman Mike Green for three years but lost defenseman Dennis Wideman as he was traded to Calgary and signed an extension.  Along with Karl Alzner, this core will be the backbone to the Capitals’ success in the upcoming seasons.

Capitals VP and GM, George McPhee spoke on Carlson saying, “John is a talented young defenseman who has played very well for the Capitals and still has room to grow.  He wanted to make a long term commitment to the team and we are delighted that this young man who is an important part of our future will be a member of the club for many years to come.”

The Capitals have had tremendous regular season success with a stacked offense over the last half decade but it has dwindled in the post season after getting knocked out in either the first or second rounds every season.  After firing Bruce Boudreau, the team has adopted a strategy of defense first but still possessing a strong offense.

Carlson is very young, only 22 years old, but possessing talent and potential to grow even more.  With Alzner and Green getting older, the team will soon be on the Carlson’s back.  He has adapted to the pace of the league putting up 9 goals and 23 assists for 32 total points last season.  Expect those numbers to grow this season as he matures and gets more ice time.

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Starts Extend Lehtonen

With labor talks still going on a a lockout looming in the future, the Dallas Stars wasted no time resigning their starting goaltender.  They extended Kari Lehtonen to a 5 year, $29.5M contract ($5.9M AAV).

Lehtonen is a very solid goaltender who has secured the starting position in Dallas.  He put up a 34-24-0 record last season with a 2.55GAA and a .914SV%.  His wins, GAA, and SV% were all career highs.  Though he put up strong numbers, the Stars missed the playoffs last season

Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk spoke on Lehtonen saying, “Kari Lehtonen has worked extremely hard in his time with the Dallas Stars to establish himself as an elite goaltender in the NHL.  We believe that his best days as a goaltender are ahead, and that his work ethic and leadership will help guide this team into a perennial Stanley Cup contender.”

The Stars have been busy this off season trading away Mike Ribeiro, signing Jaromir Jagr, and now resigning Lehtonen.  Hopefully these additions along with a more mature defensive core including Alex Goligoski, Aaron Rome, and Stephane Robidas behind Lehtonen will lead them into the playoffs.

Lehtonen will help the Stars’ young and talented goaltending prospect Jack Campbell over the next few years.  Expect Campbell to play a few years in the AHL to get more experience before backing up Lehtonen.  This situation is very similar to how Tampa Bay is handling their star goaltending prospect Dustin Tokarski.  We may see Lehtonen and Campbell fighting for the starting job a few years down the line.

Can Lehtonen build from last year’s success to lead the Stars into the playoffs.

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NHL Lockout Looms in the Future

Latest News

September 12th – The NHL and NHLPA met in New York to try to agree on a fair CBA as both sides know they will have to make compromises in order to save the season. In total, over 275 players made their way to New York to make their voices be heard. At the end of the day, NHLPA head executive, Donald Fehr, proposed a new proposal to the NHL. It was consistent with the union’s last offer. The league offered a counter proposal but it has neither been accepted or declined as of yet. The sides will meet yet again Thursday September 14, to work towards a solution.

Background

As the prior Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) expired, and no new one in its place, the NHL may very well be facing a lockout in the coming days.  NHL Commissioner, Gary Bettman, said if there is no CBA agreed on by both the National Hockey League (NHL) and National Hockey League Players Association (NHLPA) by 12:00am Sunday, he will lockout the players.

2004 seems so far back, yet so similar to today.  A similar CBA dispute led to a lockout that cancelled the entire 2004-2005 NHL season.  In fact, this is potentially the league’s third lockout since 1994.  Owners, players, and fans all mourned the loss of the season.  This hurt NHL revenue, attendance, and popularity dropped the following season.  But over time, both have risen back up and now hockey is at an all-time high in all three categories.

The entire revenue for the NHL in 2005 was $2.1B.  Over the past seven years, that number has exponentially grown to over $3.1B and is expected to only grow even more.  Under the former CBA, the players get 57% of the league’s revenue to be divided equally between all teams.  This number is known better as the team’s salary cap.  Last year’s salary cap was $64.3M while this year’s salary cap would grow to $70.2M.  This is a lot more than the first salary cap established in the 2005-2006 season, which was $39M.

The league wants to cut the player’s current share of 57% of the money down to below 50%.  The league has backed off of asking the players to take a 24% pay cut and take one that is closer to 7%.  The owners also want to limit contracts and make higher requirements for players to become unrestricted free agents (UFAs).  For example, Ilya Kovalchuk’s 17 year contract with New Jersey would be against the CBA.

Both sides have been gearing up for a lockout all season.  Most free agents this past season wanted signing bonuses which are guaranteed whether there is or isn’t a season.  Most notably this included Zach Parise and Ryan Suter who signed identical contracts with a $25M signing bonuses over the next three years.  The league protected itself by allowing the annual Winter Classic to be cancelled up to a single day prior to January 1st.

What a NHL Lockout Would Mean

There is no benefit for anyone in the case of a lockout. 

  • The owners can’t make money if the players aren’t playing. 
  • The players don’t get paid unless a CBA is agreed on.  Paul Bissonnette is currently taking applications to play for a beer league team on Twitter.  Many older players including Martin Brodeur, Teemu Selanne, Daniel Alfredsson, and Jaromir Jagr, may never have a chance to play in the league again if a lockout occurs.
  • Maybe most importantly, the fans have no hockey to watch or spend money on.  It may take the league a while to get all these new fans back, if they do decide to come back after a lockout is over.
  • Even more, arena workers will be out of work and local businesses will be hurt financially.  It is estimated that the city of Boston will lose over $1M of local business and revenue for every game that is missed.
  • The league may lose sponsorships that would cost them millions or more.

What You Can Do

What does hockey mean to you?  Can you watch this and not get emotional or get goose bumps?

As a fan, you can watch the video, spread knowledge, and sign the official petition of the lockout.  Almost 25,000 fans have already signed it.  Help get #NoLockout and #TogetherWeCan trending on Twitter.

Will the NHL be locked out Sunday morning or will the NHL and NHLPA agree on a new CBA?

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2013 Winter Classic Logo Revealed

The NHL released the official logo for the 2013 NHL Winter Classic where the Detroit Red Wings are hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs at the University of Michigan’s Football Stadium nicknamed “The Big House”.

With no current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) in place, there may be a work stoppage that may last part of the season or may cancel the entire season.  The league has until one day before the Winter Classic to say whether or not it is going to be held.

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Landeskog To Captain Avalanche

The Colorado Avalanche announced yesterday that Gabriel Landeskog would be the team’s new captain.  He is the team’s 4th captain following Joe Sakic, Adam Foote, and Milan Hejduk.  At only 19 years, 286 days old, Landeskog is the youngest captain in NHL history, beating Crosby’s record by 11 days.

Landeskog was drafted by the Avalanche 2nd overall in the 2011 NHL entry draft and has only impressed since then.  He scored 22 goals and assisted on 30 other goals to record a total of 52 points in his rookie season.  He tied for the rookie lead in points with the Oiler’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins but was victorious in winning the Calder Trophy as the league’s best rookie.

Though Landeskog is only 19 years old, he was very mature.  He moved from Sweden to Canada alone at the age of 16 so he could play in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and put him in a better position to get drafted.  He handled this all extremely well and already the results prove it.  His maturity was noted all season during stretches of both ups and downs his team faced.

Landeskog is still growing as a player but was a perfect choice to captain the Avalanche.  His maturity and work ethic will inspire other young players on the Avalanche and will help the older players focus on staying in top competing shape.

Will the young, but mature Landeskog be able to lead the Avalanche back into the playoffs?

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Semin Signs With Carolina

The Carolina Hurricanes announced they have signed star UFA forward Alexander Semin to a 1 year, $7M contract.  He will wear the same #28 he wore with Washington with the Hurricanes.

Alexander Semin may be one of the most offensively talented players in the entire league as he has scored 40 goals and produced 84 points in a season.  Though his numbers have dipped over the past few seasons, Semin still has the potential to be a perennial 40+ goal scorer and 80+ point producer.  He may have lost his focus while in Washington while fielding reports of issues dealing with his attitude and team commitment.

Semin spoke on the deal saying, “I’m very happy to be a Carolina Hurricane.  It’s a great fit for me. I look forward to playing with great players, and putting together a winning season.

This signing comes to a surprise to much of the league.  Never did Carolina cross anyone’s mind as a possible destination for Semin.  It was expected Semin would settle with a big-market team.  Semin only signed a one year deal so Carolina may just be a pit stop for him.  He may try to use the potential success from this upcoming season to wager a long term deal with a big market team he’d like to settle with.

Carolina could be a great fit for Semin.  A move to a more southern market with less media with a less harsh hockey market could give Semin a new mindset and let him refocus on his game.  On a line with brothers Jordan and Eric Staal, Semin is sure to rebound and put up big numbers this season.

The Hurricanes GM, Jim Rutherford spoke on the acquisition of Semin.  He said, “Alexander’s elite skill level and ability to score from the wing fill an important need on the ice, and we hope that a fresh start in Carolina will serve both Alexander and our team well.”

After a disappointing season that saw Carolina finish 12th in the Eastern Conference, management went right to work rebuilding the team.  The rebuild actually started in the middle of the season when they fired head coach Paul Maurice, acquired defenseman Jaroslav Spacek, and extended Tuomo Ruutu.  They made the biggest splash at this year’s NHL Draft by acquiring Jordan Staal from Pittsburgh for Brandon Sutter in a blockbuster deal.

Management is showing they want to get to a competing level and win the Stanley Cup again.  $7M for one season is a hefty price to pay for Semin’s services but will be well worth it if he can return to his old offensive form and Carolina makes a run at the Stanley Cup.  On paper, these moves have made Carolina a hard team to play against.  They are now a force to be wrecking with in not only the Southeast Division but the Eastern Conference.  They are going to be led with the Staal brothers, Jussi Jokinen, and Jeff Skinner for forwards, defensemen Joni Pitkanen and Joe Corvo, and goaltender Cam Ward.

Has Carolina’s rebuilding made them into a playoff contender?

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