SUN Hockey Pool

Saskatoon games could happen

By CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:49 PM ET

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Hockey Night in Saskatoon could still happen.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the league is willing to talk to the Ice Edge Holdings group – which has a letter of intent to buy the Phoenix Coyotes from the league – about having some of the Coyotes’ home games played in Saskatoon.

“Whatever we work out will be subject to board approval. We have to sit down with them. I think that’s their desire,” said Bettman after the first day of the NHL board of governors’ meetings.

When the Ice Edge group was in the hunt for the Coyotes during the bankruptcy proceedings last summer, it said it wanted to play five games in Saskatoon. There was also talk of Halifax being in the mix, but Bettman said it was his belief “they’re solely focused on Saskatoon.”

It’s believed the league is, at best, lukewarm about the idea.

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As part of the sale of the Coyotes, it’s believed one possibility is the league would grant the franchise a full share of revenue sharing, worth about $10-12 million, though the Coyotes do not meet many of the criteria to qualify.

It’s expected that proposition would meet some resistance from the “have” franchises.

Stay tuned.

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The issue of hits to the head is one the league is going to continue to explore.

As part of Tuesday night’s meeting, NHL VP and director of hockey operations Colin Campbell made a video presentation to the governors outlining how the game has changed through the decades.

Defining what is a legal and illegal hit doesn’t sound like it’s going to be easy given the different perspectives out there.

“Some of the hits, where the player had no chance to anticipate it, had no chance to see it coming or avoid it, then maybe we have to look into it. But a player still has some responsibility,” said Brian Burke, president and general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“When I was playing in the AHL and got drilled, you got back to the bench and your own teammates would tell you to keep your head up, what are you doing? There is some accountability for the player.”

“There was some really good video on that subject, and it’s a subject we have to work hard to address,” said Anaheim Ducks’ GM Bob Murray.

“But you’ve got to be careful what you do when you talk about rule changes. Hitting is part of our game, and you don’t want to change the fundamental nature of the game.

“I can’t believe the number of players today skating with their head down, I just can’t believe it.”

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca


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