NHL notes: LaFontaine approached to help Islanders stay put
|Pat LaFontaine reportedly has been contacted by European investors who wish to buy the struggling Islanders and keep it on Long Island. (Ray Stubblebine/Reuters/Files)
NEW YORK - Pat LaFontaine is intrigued by the possibility of heading a group interested in buying the New York Islanders, the New York Post reported Monday.
LaFontaine, a former star centre with the Islanders, has been approached by European investors who are keen to buy the money-losing team and keep it on Long Island.
Current owner Charles Wang has been rebuffed in his efforts to have a new arena built to replace the Nassau Coliseum and has said he won't play in the aging facility after his lease expires in July 2015.
Sources said he was willing to sell the team but wants $300 million -- double its current value, according to a Forbes ranking. Wang bought the Islanders for $130 million in 2000 but reportedly has been losing as much $40 million annually.
LaFontaine, 47, worked briefly as an unpaid adviser to the Isles in 2006 but quit when Wang fired Neil Smith as general manager.
VANEK OFF TO AUSTRIA
Buffalo Sabres forward Thomas Vanek has agreed on a deal to play in his native Austria during the lockout, according to Sky Sports News.
Vanek will play in Graz, where he grew up. He announced the decision on his Austrian website Monday. His contract runs until early November but there is an out clause if the NHL lockout ends before then.
"My contract ends with the league taking a break for the national team," Vanek said. "Then I will go back to my family. We'll see how the negotiations between the league and the NHLPA are going and then I'll decide what to do next."
Vanek, 28, had 26 goals and 35 assists last season, his seventh with the Sabres.
ACES HIGH FOR RANGER
New York Rangers forward Brandon Dubinsky was added to the training camp roster of the Alaska Aces Monday, joining Scott Gomez, Joey Crabb and Nate Thompson with the ECHL team.
Dubinsky signed a professional tryout agreement with the Aces and skated with the team on Monday.
It's unlikely Dubinsky or the other three NHLers will actually play for the Aces unless the lockout goes on a long time. But by signing a PTO, he is free to practise with the team.
Gomez, Crabb and Thompson, meanwhile, are all originally from Anchorage. Gomez played for the Aces during the last NHL lockout and led the ECHL in scoring.
HITCH GIVING BACK
St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock has a little extra free time on his hands these days.
So, in the hopes of giving back to the hockey coaching community, Hitchcock will be conducting three days of free seminars in St. Louis Oct. 9-11. More than 80 coaches have already signed up for the seminars with last year's NHL coach of the year.
"The thing I learned in the (2004-05) lockout when we were in Philadelphia is as coaches in the NHL all we do is take, and now this is our chance to give back, so you might as well stay active in it," Hitchcock told NHL.com.
"We've had people sit in, ex-players, and watch us present our videos to make sure they all understand it. All that ended last week and now it's like, 'OK, let's start looking at the future' ... We figure, let's start helping other people reach their goals."
BARKER TRYING OUT
Cam Barker, the third overall pick behind Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin in 2004, is trying to keep his career going with the Texas Stars of the AHL.
The 26-year-old defenceman, who's played for the Chicago Blackhawks, Minnesota Wild and Edmonton Oilers, is in the minor-league team's training camp, trying to lock down a spot on the blueline.
Barker is in camp on a tryout basis, with nothing guaranteed even though he once had a point-point season with the Blackhawks. He had just two goals and no assists in 25 games with the Oilers last season.