Kansas City covets an NHL team

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:23 AM ET

TORONTO - Attendance in Kansas City at the Sept. 27 exhibition game between the Los Angeles Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins will once more be closely monitored by those hoping to get an NHL team in the barren Sprint Center.

The arena seats about 18,000 and has hosted three NHL friendlies since opening in October of 2007. Most notably, the Islanders paid a visit in a thinly veiled attempt to put pressure on Long Island officials to help with a new arena.

The Nashville Predators were also in the mix to be moved there before prospective new owner William (Boots) Del Biaggo ran into legal problems.

With an entertainment district already established around the rink, the city remains a possible home for a transplanted or expansion franchise, should the need arise and should Quebec City or Southern Ontario be by-passed.

“The NHL was involved in the development of the Sprint Center and made it clear it’s a very viable place as the home for an NHL team,” said Michael Roth, spokesman for the Anschutz Entertainment Group, which operates the rink for the city. “Kansas City has embraced hockey and the Sprint Center puts on a good show. We continue to look for the right opportunity (to further pursue a team).”

Shani Tate, senior director of ticket sales for Sprint Center, described traffic as “steady” for the Pittsburgh- L.A. game, with hopes of a sellout.

Quebec City, which is planning a new arena in a few years, will be getting the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning for an exhibition game at the Pepsi Colisee on Oct. 1.

Chara police report sent to crown

The investigation has been completed into the crushing hit by Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara on Canadiens’ forward Max Pacioretty last March, Montreal police told QMI Agency.

The report has been sent to a Crown prosecutor who will decide whether the defenceman will face charges.

Police confirmed to QMI that investigators met with Chara in Boston in July and that he was co-operative.

Chara has maintained that he did not intend to hurt Pacioretty, who suffered a severe concussion and a fractured vertebra from the hit.

The NHL did not suspend Chara for the incident.

A decision on whether Chara gets charged likely won’t be made before November, a Crown spokesperson said.

Ovie getting serious

The usually fun-loving Alexander Ovechkin is sure to have a more stern countenance this season.

Coach Bruce Boudreau told the Washington Post that the two had a recent heart-to-heart about how to take the underachieving Capitals much further in 2011-12. Boudreau wants Ovechkin to use his clout as team captain a lot more.

“He was really receptive to everything,” Boudreau told the paper. “He asked, ‘what do I have to do? What do you want me to do?’ He threw out some ideas.

“The whole leadership role is taking on a different (meaning) to him now. We’re not all 22-year-old guys anymore. He’s the captain. I think he’s a great captain on the ice because no one works as hard as him, and no one wants to win more than him.

“It’s hard sometimes to go up there and criticize your teammates. He’s going to take it a step further. That’s maturity. It’s not anything more than that.”

Boudreau added that Ovechkin’s command of English and a better understanding of North American culture are also in his favour as he gets into his mid-20s.

Ice chips

The next few days will be tough on Canucks’ fans. Cam Neely, Milan Lucic and Mark Recchi are all bringing the Stanley Cup back to their British Columbia hometowns ... Ex-Leaf defenceman Brett Lebda has been officially bought out by the Nashville Predators ... There is debate in Manhattan about the Rangers’ new captain. Coach John Tortorella is said to favour new marquee forward Brad Richards, while many fans want the scrappy Ryan Callahan ... Sean Avery is to appear in a California court on Sept. 2. He was briefly jailed on a charge of battery of a peace officer after police came to his home on a noise complaint. “It’ll all work out at some point,” the Ranger told the New York Post ... Some good news on the concussion front. Avalanche left winger Peter Mueller, who was out all of 2010-11, joined fellow Avs at an informal practice this week. Mueller, who last played April 4, 2010, is still trying to recover his 20-goal form from his rookie year with Phoenix. He is expected for the start of camp ... Forward Rob Schremp, who played for Edmonton, the Isles and Atlanta, has signed as a free agent in Sweden for MoDo.

lance.hornby@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos