NHL Golden Knights furious with NFL Raiders decision: Will NOT admit it.

Joining the expansion NHL franchise, Las Vegas Golden Knights, the NFL owners voted nearly unanimously (31-1) to approve Raiders’ plan to relocate.

The Knights now know there’s no time to waste. The team was announced nine months ago, thousands of season tickets have been sold, the name and logo were unveiled in November and general manager George McPhee is already negotiating deals with his 30 counterparts in preparation for the expansion draft. All those things, however, were done largely with the understanding, or hope, that the Knights would be the only game in town, just like the Nashville Predators dreamed of having Music City to themselves but then learned the Houston Oilers were moving to Tennessee as well.

“This was always a possibility and that was something the (NHL’s Board of Governors) was aware of at the time they approved the franchise,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in an email to Puck Daddy. “We remain confident the Golden Knights will be successful, and that won’t change with or without an NFL franchise in town.”

The Raiders will stay in Oakland for the next two seasons before planning to move to Las Vegas in 2019. The Golden Knights will start play in the 2017-18 season.

Overall, the Golden Knights initially said they saw the eventual Raiders move as a positive.

“I think the first thing is obviously this has been discussed and been a part of kind of our dynamic for months now. It’s not like today has been a big surprise. I think everybody felt positively that this was going to come out the way it did and so from that end I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily a big surprise. It’s just more confirmation of what we thought was already going to happen,” Golden Knights president Kerry Bubolz said in a phone interview with Puck Daddy. “I think the big picture is it’s a new era for major professional sports in this community and it creates a visibility on the market that is a positive. You already have this great marketplace in terms of the entertainment and kind of gaming aspects but now you can throw major professional sports into that and I think again big picture, those are positive things for our franchise.”

But later in the day in an interview with KSHP 1400, owner Bill Foley gave a more combative about the Raiders’ arrival in an interview.

“If I had complete control, I would have rather the Raiders would not have been here. But I didn’t, so welcome. Bring em on,” he said.

Even if the Knights do everything right, it will still be impossible for them to ever be anything other than the No. 2 team in town. The NFL is just that big, that overwhelming in its presence. Buffalo has an NFL and an NHL team and no matter how incompetent the Bills are, they’re still No. 1. Of course, the Sabres have been pretty incompetent in recent years, too.

The Raiders, once they arrive, will suck up the lion’s share of media attention and corporate sponsorship in Vegas. So the task for the Knights will be to grow deep enough roots over the next two years that they won’t just be swept away when the NFL tsunami hits.

Bubolz also pointed out that the NFL and NHL are different models and believes there won’t be as much crossover as some may think.

“The main thing is we’re two totally different businesses,” Bubolz said. “We’re a new franchise and we’re starting fro scratch and building our fanbase around the Vegas Golden Knights. The Raiders are already a strong regional brand with a strong fanbase. Now they’re just going to play in Las Vegas vs. in Oakland.”

While there are a multitude of logistics to work out in the interim, the plan is for the Raiders to continue to play in Oakland for the next two seasons at the Oakland Coliseum until construction of a new stadium in Las Vegas – estimated to cost $1.9 billion USD – is completely in 2020 and funded by both the Raiders and a hotel tax passed by the Nevada Legislature in October.

The move to Las Vegas will mark the team’s second departure from Oakland, following the Raiders’ move to Los Angeles 35 years ago.

Guess all we can do now is wait and see what happens. 

Playoff addition...Attention Leaf fans: RELAX and BREATHE

Of all the Eastern Conference clubs with playoff hopes, Toronto has the worst record over its past 10 outings (3-4-3). As the stakes have risen, the Leafs have dropped.

“The NHL is too good a league to think you can outscore your mistakes,” coach Mike Babcock told reporters. “When you’re a team pushing for the playoffs, it gets more and more competitive as it goes on, so you have to play right. That’s just the way it is.”

One thing people seem to forget is that the Leafs are not suppose to be making the playoffs this season, yet alone the next season. Babcock is still rebuilding this team from the ground up and people are so fixated on winning that they have forgotten the main goal with the new Maple Leafs.

Looking back to this time last year it was a total gong show. Shanahan and Lamoriello have really changed the franchise around, moving out players, bringing in players and of course drafting Auston Matthews. Without question Matthews is one of Toronto’s franchise players and one I hope they can hold onto until his career is done. Sure that’s a lot of want considering we are in season one of Matthews career, but he’s just that good and makes the players around him that much better. 

Auston Matthews is Captain material and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see the C on his chest as early as next season.

it’s a good time of the season to take a look at where the team has been in recent history and where they are now. Leaps and bounds have been made this season and I feel it’s the start of something big to come in time. That’s exactly what the Leafs young players need, time and success in the process.

A playoff run would be a great confidence boost and of course the experience that goes hand-in-hand with it. But that should not be our main focus. You guys need to stop focusing on winning and realize it takes time to get there.

The Leafs trades for Boyle and also Eric Fehr from the Pittsburgh Penguins were welcome statements from management to the team’s current players – that the long rebuild spearheaded by president Brendan Shanahan and general manager Lou Lamoriello is pretty much over and they see the Maple Leafs as a group that could make a move in the final month of the season. 

“When I was in Tampa the expectations weren’t terribly high when I got there. They were expected to probably make the playoffs, but we went to the Cup Final that year,” Boyle said. “Before the year you put down – the press and the media puts down what they think is going to do what. Generally they’re pretty close, but there’s always things to change during the season. We have a chance to do that. I think that’s something they’ve been building here for a while and if I can help that along, that’s a priority of mine and that’s what I’m focused on doing.”

The Maple Leafs entered the trading deadline period with a reported $15 million in salary cap space because of contracts being put on long term injured reserve. They could have made a big, splashy trade for a high salary player but opted to stay the course and fine tuned some areas with Boyle and Fehr – pending unrestricted free agents who didn’t require a lot to procure their services.

There is hope for Toronto filling their defensive needs as it’s an expansion year and with all of the salary room the Leafs will have on top of the franchise trending up; we fans may be pleasantly surprised and happy we waited until the off-season before paying a premium for a quality defenseman.

So please Leaf fans and NHL fans, do us all a favour and RELAX. This team will do many great things and they all start from then ground. 

Mark my words, the Toronto Maple Leafs will be a playoff winning team over the next few seasons. 

Until then, all you crazy, annoying, over dramatic fans need to focus on something else and cry over another team. 



Who saw this coming?! Panthers make HISTORY



None of us saw this coming, and none of us would have ever thought that the Panthers would become ne of the hottest teams in the NHL this season.

This make-or-break, five-game road trip is already one of the best in franchise history, as the Panthers have swept through Nashville, San Jose, Anaheim and Los Angeles with a season-best four game winning streak, including Saturday night’s 3-2 victory over the Kings.

“This is a group that fought the confidence bug a little when we were going through the rough times,” Florida interim coach Tom Rowe, who took over for Gerard Gallant in late November, told reporters. “Now they’re taking advantage, feeling good and playing some good hockey.”

The Panthers had lost in their past seven trips to Staples Center, dating back to a 5-2 victory on Nov. 27, 2002. It’s the first time in franchise history the Panthers have won all three games in California in a single season, and they have a chance to record the franchise’s first 5-0 road trip with a victory over the St. Louis Blues (31-23-5) on Monday night.

The game didn’t start off well for the Cats. A slow start led to a few scrambles in front of the net. Thankfully, James Reimer was there to stop each puck and keep us tied at zero. With about ten minutes left in the first, Jonathan Marchessault tucked in a snap shot right under Jake Allen’s arm, to give us a 1-0 lead. The first period concluded with a 1-0 score line, in favor for the Panthers.

"Terrible finish," Allen said. "We had 30 seconds left to salvage a point in a game that we played not good. Those are huge points right now. Could have ended up with two points, and it slipped away."

The biggest reason for that was the Blues' inability to get the puck out of their zone in the closing seconds.

"There were opportunities to jump on loose pucks, there were opportunities to kill the play, and that didn't happen," St. Louis coach Mike Yeo said.

The loss came in the final game for the Blues before the league-mandated break in their schedule, with their next game not coming until Sunday night.

"We should have a bad taste in our mouth for a couple days," Yeo said. "We've got this break now, and what I hope happens is we take some time to think about our situation as far as finishing off the season and the situation that we're in."

Allen took the loss hard, as did his teammates.

Also, The Blues activated C Paul Stastny off injured reserve before the game, and he had an even rating in 18:41 of ice time. He missed the previous four games because of a lower-body injury. ... Blues LW Alexander Steen played in his 800th career game. ... Eight players on the Blues' roster were not born when Panthers RW Jaromir Jagr played his first game in the NHL on Oct. 5, 1990. Jagr, at 45, is even two years older than Blues coach Mike Yeo. ... The Panthers return home to host the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday night. The Blues' next game will be Sunday night against the Blackhawks in Chicago.

After sweeping the western conference road trip for the first time this year, the Panthers are back at it on Wednesday against the Edmonton Oilers. It will be the start of a four game home stand. The Cats are currently third in the atlantic, seeking a push for the playoffs.

Mike Ilitch, owner of Red Wings, dead at 87

piv via woodlawnpost.com

piv via woodlawnpost.com

Mike Ilitch, owner of the Detroit Red Wings and the Detroit Tigers, and founder of the Little Caesars Pizza empire has passed away at 87.

His family released a statement saying Ilitch died Friday at a local hospital. They called him a visionary who set the tone for his company and his family.

City leader’s heaped praise on the man known simply as “Mr. I” to most in Michigan for all that he put into Detroit.

“Mike Ilitch was more than just a shrewd, successful businessman. He was a Detroiter through-and-through,” Mayor Mike Duggan said Friday night in a statement. “Whether he was making pizza, building successful sports and entertainment franchises or supporting youth organizations in our city, Mr. I helped to bring thousands of jobs and opportunities to our city and attract millions of dollars of investment.”

Ilitch and his wife, Marian, founded Little Caesars — later known for its “Pizza! Pizza!” ads featuring an animated “Little Caesar” — in suburban Detroit in 1959. They eventually grew the business into one of the world’s largest carry-out pizza chains with several spin-off companies that now employ 23,000 people worldwide and posted revenues last year of $3.4 billion.

His investments in Detroit spearheaded the current flurry of development from downtown to Midtown.

“Mike Ilitch saw the bright possibilities of Detroit’s Woodward Corridor at a time that other investors had fully turned their backs on the city,” said Rip Rapson, president and chief executive of the Troy, Michigan-based Kresge Foundation.

“Revitalizing the historic Fox Theatre and relocating his business headquarters to the city were bold moves, but ones that ultimately set downtown on a course for incredible investment and remarkable transformation,” Rapson said.

Ilitch broke into sports ownership in 1982, when he paid a reported $8 million for the struggling Red Wings. Once a National Hockey League powerhouse, the team had bottomed out to mediocrity, but it began winning again under Ilitch. The Red Wings took home the Stanley Cup in 1997, 1998, 2002 and 2008.

Ilitch was inducted into the NHL Hockey Hall of Fame in 2003, and into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame and Michigan Sports Hall of Fame a year later.

Unlike previous owners of both sports franchises, Ilitch opened his checkbook to sign top players — finding solid success in hockey, and a roller coaster in baseball.

The Tigers lost an American League record 119 games in 2003, but advanced to the World Series three years later, losing in five games to the St. Louis Cardinals. Near the end of a disappointing 2008 season, Ilitch said he and the team would review everything done to put the roster together but focusing on the $138 million payroll wasn’t the priority.

“I’m not afraid to go out and spend money,” Ilitch said. “It’s been very costly, but I’m not going to change my ways.”

But Ilitch never got the chance to see his team win a World Series as its owner, despite spending millions of dollars on contracts for stars like Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander, Victor Martinez, Ivan Rodriguez and Prince Fielder.

“I’ve never seen a man more dedicated to this community and to baseball than Mr. I,” Tigers Executive Vice-President and General Manager Al Avila said Friday in a statement. “What he has done for this franchise, and for Detroit, is immeasurable. He was always there to give us whatever we needed because he wanted greatness and happiness for all of us — especially the fans.”

The Tigers made the American League playoffs in 2011, a return to winning that brought more fans to Comerica Park. The team last made the playoffs in 2014, losing to the Baltimore Orioles.

“We won a lot. I wish we would have won the ultimate world championship for him,” former Tigers General Manager Dave Dombrowski told The Associated Press on Friday. “He loved the city of Detroit and the state of Michigan and its fans.”

Christopher Ilitch called his father a “once-in-a-generation entrepreneur, visionary and leader.”

“He made such a positive impact in the world of sports, in business and in the community, and we will remember him for his unwavering commitment to his employees, his passion for Detroit, his generosity to others and his devotion to his family and friends,” Christopher Ilitch said in a release.

Ilitch is survived by his wife, seven adult children, 22 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be private, but plans are being made for the public to pay their respects to Mike Ilitch and the Ilitch family.

“You know, we catch heck when you mention where you’re from, but people are gonna recognize we can change that,” Ilitch once said. “The start of it will be the teams. We’ve got the best sports fans; we’re a sports city, nobody can deny that. What I’d like one day — and I won’t be around for it — is that they can eat their words about what they said about Detroit.”

For Ilitch, those truly are words to live by. And that is one quote I will always remember from him.