SUN Hockey Pool

Coyotes deal months away?

Winnipeg hockey fans cheer as they get word that their new NHL franchise will be called the Jets,...

Winnipeg hockey fans cheer as they get word that their new NHL franchise will be called the Jets, while watching the NHL entry draft. (REUTERS/Fred Greenslade)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:55 PM ET

Glendale city council is determined to settle a deal with a new buyer for the Phoenix Coyotes in the next few months, and long-time suitor Matthew Hulsizer is still interested, the Arizona Republic reported Friday.

 

"I know the city's hope is to move forward toward a closing by the end of the summer," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said.

Councilwoman Joyce Clark said an executive session this week provided one of the most positive closed-door meetings the council has had regarding the money-losing hockey franchise.

"I am very hopeful that when we return from our break in August we will be hearing some good news," said Clark, who would not elaborate.

Hulsizer said he is still interesting in buying the Coyotes "but the clock is striking midnight right now."

"The council is considering something and we're really interested in keeping the team (in Glendale) forever," he said.

Daly said Glendale has been working with "a number of potential buyers."

Winni ... and the Jets

The name game has come to a close and it's clear the people have spoken.

Team owner True North confirmed Friday what most people in Winnipeg were hoping -- that the Jets are back.

"We are thrilled to be using a name that has so much history in our city and means so much to our fans" True North chairman Mark Chipman said. "Our fans clearly indicated to us the passion they hold for the name since we acquired the franchise."

True North underwent an exhaustive process in hunting for a new name for the Atlanta Thrashers franchise which relocated this month to Winnipeg.

However, public sentiment has been overwhelming in support of restoring the Jets name.

It probably didn't hurt either that co-owner and Canadian billionaire David Thomson endorsed the name during the introductory press conference, suggesting Jets was "a fine name."

The original Winnipeg Jets played in both the WHA and NHL from 1972 to 1996. In 1996 the franchise moved to Arizona and became the Phoenix Coyotes.

And the first, Noel

Claude Noel was confirmed Friday as the first coach of Winnipeg's new NHL franchise.

Noel, 55, was unveiled at a news conference in Minneapolis in advance of the NHL entry draft.

"I've gone through this process a few times," Noel said. "I can't tell you how happy I am. In my world, there's a high level of joy and we'll be dealing with that a lot this year.

"I thought my day would come. I just held onto my own inner confidence."

He coached the AHL's Manitoba Moose to third place in the North Division last season and to the division final in the playoffs.

"I've watched his teams win championships at that level and watched him take them to the final," general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said. "I've watched him take very talented teams and go a lot of places and I've watched him take teams with not an overabundance of talent and make them better and get them to places they probably shouldn't have (gone). He's very organized, pleasant to compete against. Very respectful of the games."

Noel spent the previous three seasons as an assistant with the Columbus Blue Jackets and guided the team to a 10-8-6 record as interim coach after Ken Hitchcock was fired.

Chicago Blackhawks assistant Mike Haviland was the other finalist for the job.

Sabres, Amerks together again

The Buffalo Sabres have reunited with Rochester as it's AHL affiliate.

The Rochester Americans were Buffalo's top minor league club from 1979 through 2008.

"The Rochester Americans and Buffalo Sabres have a rich history together, and reuniting these two outstanding franchises is great news for hockey fans in western New York," AHL president David Andrews said.

Rochester is the second-oldest franchise in the AHL and will begin its 56th season in 2011-12.

The Sabres had partnered with Portland the past three seasons.

Brewer sticks with Bolts

The Tampa Bay Lightning signed defenceman Eric Brewer Friday to a four-year contract.

Brewer, 32, had only one goal and one assist in 22 regular-season games after being acquired Feb. 18 from the St. Louis Blues, but contributed one goal and six assists in 18 playoff games.

"He was an important part of our team after being acquired at last year's deadline and he played a key role in the playoffs both on and off the ice," general manager Steve Yzerman said.

The Bolts also signed centre Blair Jones to a one-year two-way contract.

Ham's surgery a success

Vancouver Canucks defenceman Dan Hamhuis had successful sports hernia surgery, the team said Friday.

Hamhuis was hurt when he tried to nail Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic with a hip check in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final. There was no word on how long the 28-year-old would take to recover.

In 64 games with the Canucks in 2010-11, Hamhuis had six goals and 23 assists.

Regehr won't go

Robyn Regehr's decision not to waive his no-movement clause on the day of the NHL Entry Draft is more about making sure when he does, it's the right decision.

The Calgary Flames defenceman explained his thought process minutes before the first round began Friday night after speaking with general manager Jay Feaster about the deal pending between the Flames and Buffalo Sabres, which needed Regehr's approval to proceed.

"I can't waive unless I see options. I had no options, really, other than this deal. There was never anything other than that. It was a yes or no type thing," said Regehr, who envisioned a dialogue and the ability to work with the Flames to find a deal that worked for both player and team.

That's still a possibility.

"It's a huge, important decision. I just wanted to make sure I explore as many options as possible," said Regehr, who also didn't rule out the Sabres in the future after having multiple discussions with GM Darcy Regier over the last few days.

Leafs get PP help

The Toronto Maple Leafs picked up a replacement for Tomas Kaberle Friday before the NHL draft got going.

The Leafs acquired puck-moving, offensive-minded defenceman John-Michael Liles from the Colorado Avalanche for a 2012 second-round draft pick. Liles had six goals and 40 assists in 76 games with the Avs last season.

"Liles is basically going to take the place of Tomas Kaberle," Leafs vice-president of hockey operations, Dave Nonis, said moments after the team announced the deal.

"He's a power-play guy, a position we've definitely been lacking since Kaberle was gone. He's going to step right in and will be given a lot of responsibility and opportunity."

With one-year remaining on what was a four-year deal, Liles becomes a Leaf at a relatively bargain-basement price of $4.2 million. He had to waive a no-trade clause to make the deal happen but likes the opportunity to work for a team he feels has an upside.

"After Burkie took over a couple of years ago and watching their transformation, I'm very excited to be going there," Liles said on a conference call with Toronto media. "Obviously, it's a new chapter in my life, but I think how the Leafs are set up I hope I will be a nice fit."

Dudley joins Buds

The Toronto Maple Leafs increased their front-office roster Friday by adding former Atlanta Thrashers general manager Rick Dudley to the payroll in a yet to be determined position.

With president and GM Brian Burke at the top, the Leafs executive suite now includes Dave Nonis, Dave Poulin, Claude Loiselle and Dudley.

"Rick is an exceptional evaluator of talent," said Nonis, Toronto's vice-president of hockey operations. "If you look at where he's been and what's followed after he's left, it has usually been success."

While he had yet to achieve success in Atlanta, it became apparent as soon as the Thrashers were leaving town that his hours with the franchise were numbered.

"The day that Winnipeg notified me and the rest of the world that I wasn't going to Winnipeg, Burkie got in touch with me and we started talking at that point and it evolved from there," Dudley said. "I had a feeling (I wouldn't stay in Winnipeg). People have to have comfort levels with people and I didn't know the people very well and they obviously wanted to start something new and that's fine."

While Dudley's role hasn't been defined, you can bet it will have a heavy scouting element to it.

Smyth back with Oil

Give the Edmonton Oilers a win over their Alberta rivals, the Calgary Flames.

The Oilers acquired Ryan Smyth from the Los Angeles Kings Friday just hours after the former Edmonton star was rumoured to be headed to the Flames. Smyth's agent, Don Meehan, confirmed that the veteran forward waived his no-trade clause to re-join the Oilers.

To get Smyth, the Oilers sent forward Gilbert Brule and a fourth-round draft pick to the Kings.

Smyth, who started his NHL career with the Oilers in 1994-95 and played over a decade with the club, had 23 goals and 24 assists in 82 games with the Kings last season.

Brule, 24, had seven goals and two assists in 41 games with Edmonton. 


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