NHL Week in Review (March 5-11)

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This week the NHL saw their newest team make their first move ever when the Vegas Golden Knights signed Reid Duke.

Duke becomes the first official member of the Knights as they continue to prepare for their first season.

The concentration for many is squarely on the Knights and what they will do in the coming months leading up to the expansion draft.

The talk is about what Vegas hockey will look like and if the team will be able to amount enough talent to compete.

Not only that but could they compete and keep the interest of those in Vegas as the NHL’s decision to expand to Vegas has been met with mixed reaction.

On one hand, they are the first major league in North America to expand to one of the major cities that is without a professional team in any sport.

They are the icebreakers of Vegas and other leagues may be following suit soon, the NFL’s Oakland Raiders may be moving to Vegas next season.

On the other hand, the NHL is being criticised for passing on a city like Quebec City who have been asking to return to the league for years and where there is already a big appetite for the game.

The expansion to a city that never really demanded a hockey team because of the fan base but rather to get a professional team is questionable for the health of the league.

Not only that, but the NHL is the first league in the city because many have been scared of a number of people who actually live in Vegas being reliable fans.

They also worry about a number of distractions that will take away from the interest for the sport and the distractions for the players who will then live in a place known as Sin City.

All of this put together makes and expansion to Vegas risky but the NHL is willing to take that risk and hopefully find a permanent spot.

Another big argument against this expansion is that many see this expansion as happening too soon.

To them, the NHL needs to focus on other aspects of the game before the look to new cities to expand to no matter where those cities are.

Mainly they need to find a way to stand solidly in the cities that they currently have which is not the case for the league.

There are two cities in the league right now that are struggling far more than anywhere else in the league.hockey-sidebar

Florida had a great uptick last year but they are once again back to being a team struggling to sell tickets and make things work.

They are not the team with the direst situation though as that is the Arizona Coyotes who seem to be without a home every single year.

The constant battle with the City of Glendale has become a yearly story as many wonders every year if the Coyotes will be playing in Arizona next year.

Just when things seem to find a solution for the Coyotes another issue arises and the future of the team become uncertain.

This year it seemed like the Coyotes had found another solution when Arizona State agreed to join the Coyotes in building a new facility in Tempe.

It was the home and partnership that the Coyotes needed to play more years in the state and remain around Phoenix.

Recently though ASU dropped out of the deal and will no longer be building an arena in Tempe leaving the Coyotes in Glendale.

That wasn’t a good option for Gary Bettman who went public in stating that he believes that the game cannot survive in Glendale.

He doesn’t want to move the team away from the Greater Phoenix area but he seems to be done with the constant uncertainty in Glendale.

It has left the Coyotes in a strange place and Bettman’s comments make it even tougher with many people now thinking that a move might be made soon.

After Bettman made his comments the talk only increased because it sounded like Bettman was more open to leaving the desert.

Of course, he came back to say that they want to stay in the area but if there is no option to move the team within the area would the NHL be willing to move them somewhere else.

If so the Coyotes might finally be done in the desert leading to a new team in a new city which is what so many have been asking for.

The Vegas expansion is an interesting aspect of the NHL’s future but a more interesting aspect could be the future of the Coyotes who have proven time and time again that hockey doesn’t work in the desert.

To be successful the NHL needs to expand to more spots but they also need to have successful and strong teams and the Coyotes are far from that.

(More on this week in hockey)

Olympic Update
The Annual GM meetings never really had an official update on the participation of the NHL in the Olympics next year but Gary Bettman did say that the likelihood is small leading Jakub Voracek to tell everyone that he was not happy about the leanings of the league

Protection List Decision
The GMs did make a decision on the Protection Lists for the upcoming expansion draft in that they agreed that the lists will not be made public leading media outlets to be upset but also protecting the relationships between players and teams

A Bygone Age?
The NHL likes to take notice that fighting is leaving the game and that is happening but this week a team the league likes to use as an example showed that the olds ways aren’t done yet calling up Tom Sestito essentially to fight with the game ended with a suspension for a hit from behind


Key Scores:
Minnesota Wild 3-1 San Jose Sharks
– The Sharks have been in this battle for a long time as they continue to fight for the playoffs but they ran into a newer power in the Wild who are sitting near the top of the league this year and proving they belong

Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 Detroit Red Wings
– For the Red Wings, this is a new feeling as they are no longer in the hunt for the playoffs and are now playing spoilers but they couldn’t spoil things for the Leafs who remained right in the hunt with this win

Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 Edmonton Oilers (SO)
– It isn’t every day that two generational players are in the same game but this time Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid faced off with the Penguins coming out on top in a shootout with a game looking at the future and the present of the game

Calgary Flames 3-0 Winnipeg Jets
– Calgary continues to fight for their playoff lives as they continue to move up the rankings especially with this win against the Jets as they moved into the competition for the division just leaving the wild card

Next Week:
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Calgary Flames (Monday, March 13th; 9:00 pm ET)
– Calgary remains in a good spot but they are still fighting to remain in that spot and they try to take on the Penguins who are likely headed to the playoffs in a bit of a test for a still young team

Chicago Blackhawks vs. Montreal Canadiens (Tuesday, March 14th; 7:30 pm ET)
– They don’t face off too much but these two original six teams are both playing great hockey right now and they try to get closer to that playoff clinching number as they face off in a match between two current and former powers

Boston Bruins vs. Edmonton Oilers (Thursday, March 16th; 9:00 pm ET)
– Their amazing turnaround continues as the Oilers try to get closer to a playoff berth but they continue to take on some of the veteran teams that have been through it all before as they continue to try to prove that they belong among the contenders

Columbus Blue Jackets vs. New York Islanders (Saturday, March 18th; 1:00 pm ET)
– The Blue Jackets are another surprising team as they continue to look towards the playoffs and they take on a team trying to solidify their spot as the Islanders are just hanging on and need every win to capture the wild card spot

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