Ottawa may play its way out of NHL
December 19, 2017 3:00 AM
by Nick Pellegrino
Infamous “Hockey Night in Canada” commentator/celebrity Don Cherry made headlines in Canada over the weekend, declaring “he’s gone” if Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk doesn’t see a swift, positive click forward in attendance in Canada’s capital city.
“You can’t survive with 13,000 (fans),” said Cherry. “He’s gone, Ottawa’s gone for sure, don’t know where, but Quebec would be nice.”
Actually, the idea of relocation is nothing new if you recall last spring. Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final is in Ottawa, with a Sens victory forcing a seventh and deciding game in Pittsburgh against the defending champion Penguins for the right to play for the Stanley Cup.
It’s what every young Canuck dreams about, yet Melnyk said at the time, the organization was “begging people to buy a ticket” to little fanfare.
Fans in Ottawa couldn’t sell out Canadian Tire Centre, falling several thousand tickets short, so who could blame Melnyk for seeking greener pastors, He even stated as much on Friday, noting there won’t be a new downtown Ottawa arena if things don’t start improving.
Although the politics of hockey may not be new, it does effect wagering in Nevada. The Sens are already in a slump and news about moving usually is negative to a team’s play on the ice. Just ask any hockey fan in Hartford, Atlanta (twice; Flames and Thrashers) and Winnipeg, among others.
The Atlantic Division is already the weakest in the NHL. Thus, with an Ottawa demise, Tampa Bay and Toronto can now compile even more points to ensure home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs – it’s a domino effect for both single-game and Futures betting.
On The Move?
Could the Vegas Golden Knights be on the move?! But only by switching to a different division. You may now stop hyper-ventilating.
Last week, the NHL invited an ownership group from Seattle, which includes billionaire investment banker David Bonderman and Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer, for an expansion team, meaning the Stanley Cup could return to the City of Dahlias for the first time since 1917.
Seattle would pair with Vancouver in the Pacific Division, but that places nine teams in the division and just seven in the Central. A divisional switch would likely mean Arizona and not Vegas.
The Coyotes would move to the Central should the franchise relocate to Houston if NBA Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta has his way, perhaps in time for the 2020-21 season.
In 1917, the PCHA champion Seattle Metropolitans defeated the Montreal Canadiens of the National Hockey Association (the forerunner to the NHL) in four games, 3-1.
VGK general manager George McPhee recently announced the acquisition of center Ryan Carpenter off waivers from the San Jose Sharks. Carpenter takes the spot held by LW Stefan Matteau, who was assigned to the Chicago Wolves (AHL).
Carpenter, 26, a native of Orlando, Fla., spent parts of two seasons in the Bay Area after signing as a free agent out of Bowling Green University, where he was the Falcons’ leading scorer as a freshman. He has 18 appearances this season, registering just one assist, yet gives the Knights a right-handed shooter.
By coincidence, Matteau, 24, was born in Chicago, He’s been a member of the U.S. National Team Development Program and the USA Under-20 national team before joining the New Jersey Devils, then was traded to Montreal. VGK signed him as a free agent.
There will be no salary cap hit; both players have similar entry-level contracts.
On The Farm
If you think stocking a new NHL franchise is difficult, the same holds true for the Vegas minor league affiliate. However, after the Wolves opened (not surprisingly) with the poorest record in the 30-team AHL, the former St. Louis affiliate is now on a 5-1-0 streak, advancing five spots up the overall ladder.
As for NHL Pacific Division, don’t expect Anaheim, Edmonton or San Jose to receive much help anytime soon, all in a dogfight to escape the AHL Pacific cellar. Meanwhile, the Stockton (Calif.) Heat is in first, so Calgary might get some needed help, but it’s too late for the second-place Tucson (Ariz.) Roadrunners to aid the Arizona Coyotes.
Dallas: With G Kari Lehtonen on the verge of several Stars franchise records, including victories, only now does coach Ken Hitchcock talk glowingly about the veteran he vehemently attempted to dump over the summer. So Ken, if Kari is “the man,” why did you insist on signing G Ben Bishop to a 7-year contact and mess with the club’s salary cap? (Yes, the only Hitchcock I like was a movie director.)
Anaheim: C Corey Perry is the latest to join the Ducks IR. Kevin Roy stepped onto the No. 1 line and posted his second career multi-point game against St. Louis in a 3-1 win.
Chicago: G Corey Crawford returned and the Hawks win four straight, featuring three goals by 4th-line center Tommy Wingels. The win string features three Unders and a push, with upcoming games against Under-type teams Dallas and New Jersey (hint-hint).
San Jose: Back-up G Aaron Dell beat the Flames in his hometown of Calgary, meaning the Sharks could be starting a hot streak now that No. 1 goalie Martin Jones finally is rested.
N.Y. Islanders: Dissatisfied coach Doug Weight re-worked his third and fourth lines, with the bottom six providing the difference in a 4-3 OT victory over L.A. over the weekend. RW Brock Nelson was joined on the new No. 3 line with C Casey Cizikas and RW Cal Clutterbuck. Meanwhile, Josh Ho-Sang, 20, was sent down to Bridgeport (AHL).
Toronto: The suddenly slumping Leafs dropped a 3-game road swing against rather soft competition (PHI, MIN, DET), and this week start a 5-game roadie (including VGK). Will the real Leafs please stand up?
Editor’s Note: Oakland also lost an NHL franchise when the Seals (aka California Golden Seals) disbanded in the early 1970’s. Also, Toronto’s current slide can be attributed to the injury to their top player Auston Matthews.