Canadiens sign restricted-free-agent Alex Galchenyuk to two-year deal (The Canadian Press)

The Montreal Canadiens have agreed to terms on a two-year deal with forward Alex Galchenyuk. Galchenyuk will count US$2.8 million against the salary cap each of the next two seasons, according to multiple reports. Galchenyuk was the Canadiens’ last restricted free agent.

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Alex Galchenyuk inks two-year, $5.6 million bridge deal with Canadiens (Puck Daddy)

Just when you thought the bridge contract in the NHL was dead the Montreal Canadiens go and sign RFA Alex Galchenyuk to a two-year deal. The 21-year old forward will carry a $2.8 million AAV in each of the next two seasons, per Pierre LeBrun . Galchenyuk will remain an RFA and have arbitration rights after the deal is up. From the Habs: Galchenyuk, 21, played 80 games with the Canadiens in 2014-15. He set personal highs in goals (20), assists (26) and points (46). Three of his goals were tallied on the powerplay and scored one winning goal. The 6’01’’, 198-lbs forward maintained a +8 differential and was assessed 39 penalty minutes, while maintaining an average of 16:25 of ice time per game. Galchenyuk added four points (1 goal, 3 assists) and a +1 differential in 12 playoffs contests. There was plenty of drama from Galchenyuk’s end of things in the lead up to a deal finally getting done. Remember the KHL “threat? ” Or when the forward fired his long-time agent , Igor Larionov, and hired Pat Brisson? All in the past now that GM Marc Bergevin has signed up his young pivot. With a deal done, now we can go back to wondering where Galchenyuk will play in the Canadiens’ lineup next season. He’s considered a center, but Bergevin cast doubts about that being his long-term role in the organization at his end-of-season presser . “I can’t tell when or if he’ll be a center,” he said. He obviously found success on the wing this past season. And as Marc Dumont of Habs Eyes on the Prize broke down earlier this month, Galchenyuk’s done just fine when he’s been at center, despite Bergevin’s worries. If the Canadiens can upgrade their wingers, giving Galchenyuk a full-time role down the middle will serve them well as his continues his development. – – – – – – – Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Sean_Leahy MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS :

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Canadiens agree to terms on a two-year contract with Alex Galchenyuk

MONTRÉAL – Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin announced on Thursday that the team has agreed to terms on a two-year contract with forward Alex Galchenyuk (2015-16 2016-17).

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Leafs lowball Bernier; Bruins blame game; NHL last chance team (Puck Headlines) (Puck Daddy)

Here are your Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at  puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com .  

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Winter Classic logos unveiled; Bruins/Habs alumni game announced (Puck Daddy)

The NHL, Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens had their press gathering for the 2016 Winter Classic on Wednesday at Gillette Stadium, where we learned several uber-important facts about the blessed event  The Bruins and Canadiens will have an alumni game on Dec. 31, the day before the Classic. Huzzah! The Bruins and the Canadiens unveiled their cool, old school logos for the Jan. 1 event, which will take place at the home of the New England Patriots in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Huzzah! There was no jersey unveiling … boo!  There was much thanking of Patriots owner Robert Kraft, almost to a nauseating level. Probably because Kraft was having a really, really bad day for reasons that had nothing to do with the Winter Classic. “Through their combined 34 Stanley Cup and Super Bowl titles the Patriots, the Bruins and the Canadiens all have been dominant in their respective sports,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said. “The majesty of their accomplishments set against this spectacular backdrop promises a truly memorable New Years Day for 2016 and a truly special celebration for our sports.”  Lumping the Patriots into this? Give. Me. A Break. [ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football: Sign up and join a league today! ] And there was a lot of joking about the heat – because it was in the 90s in Foxborough, and it will obviously be much cooler come January in Massachusetts.  “I promise you the temperature will be a little different. Maybe colder than what you want,” said Kraft, who made no obvious Deflate-Gate reference at the news conference. (Sigh).  Either way, it’ll still be a fun event at the East Coast Classic, which shall no longer have non-Blackhawks Western Conference teams. Snark aside, bravo on bringing back the alumni game. The Blackhawks and Washington Capitals didn’t have one for the 2015 Winter Classic , and this is generally the most joyous non-Winter Classic element of the weekend. Seeing (hopefully) Ray Bourque strap his pads on for Boston and face the likes of (hopefully) Guy Lafleur for Montreal will no doubt stoke hockey nostalgia charm. Maybe Saku Koivu will come back for this occasion. Maybe we can pull Tim Thomas out of hiding.  Hopefully Bruins/Canadiens legend Hal Gill will return and play for both teams in the alumni game, because how many guys are adored by fans of both franchises? As for the logos. Montreal:

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Old rivals Bruins and Canadiens will meet in NHL's Winter Classic in home of NFL champs (The Canadian Press)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The Winter Classic is coming to the home of the New England Patriots.

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Bruins-Canadiens rivalry takes centerstage at 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Gillette Stadium

NEW YORK — Representatives from the National Hockey League, Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens, New England Patriots, National Hockey League Players’ Association and Bridgestone gathered today at Gillette Stadium to detail plans for the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic®. In January, the NHL announced that the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® will feature the Bruins and Canadiens at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., on New Year’s Day, 2016. The event will be televised live on NBC, Sportsnet and TVA Sports at 1 p.m. ET.

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Yahoo Fantasy Hockey: Previewing the East in the middle of the off-season (Puck Daddy)

Dobber Hockey launched in 2005 and Dobber and his staff have hitched their wagons to Puck Daddy to preach fantasy hockey to the Yahoo masses since 2009. Now that the smoke has (mostly) cleared from an offseason that saw numerous big names switch jerseys, we are now ready to discuss the fantasy implications of these moves. Let’s take a tour around the NHL to find out how these changes could affect player fantasy values entering the 2015-16 season. We’ll start with our preview of the Eastern Conference teams. The Western Conference preview will be up Thursday.    Atlantic Division Boston Bruins If Don Sweeney were a fantasy GM, he’d be the guy that you’d poke fun at for getting fleeced. Regardless, the cap situation left by his predecessor had backed the Bruins into a corner. But many Bruins simply don’t possess the fantasy value that they used to … Torey Krug seems likely to log the even-strength minutes that will be left by Dougie Hamilton, which could help improve his overall point total. Krug’s power-play ice time per game last season (2:37) was actually more than Hamilton’s (2:30) … Matt Beleskey should take on Milan Lucic’s role as the resident power forward who will score a little. Never mind his sizable contract – the quality of his linemates could prevent him from reaching 20 goals … With the Bruins now trending downward for next season, is Tuukka Rask still a top-5 goalie? A top-10 goalie?    Buffalo Sabres Following this offseason, there are some exciting times ahead for the Sabres. Just don’t expect major gains in 2015-16 while this team continues on its rebuild course. Overall, this team contains a ton of x-factors fantasy-wise … Jack Eichel should be drafted in most fantasy formats as a sleeper, although you won’t want to draft him too early in single-season formats … Don’t overvalue Ryan O’Reilly either, as O’Reilly seems to offer a better real-life game than a fantasy game … Is it possible that the first Sabre drafted in your fantasy league is Evander Kane? Don’t forget that he will also be making his Sabres debut this season … Sabres’ goalies must have felt like they worked at a tire factory last season, as they faced more rubber than any other NHL team (35.6 shots per game). Keep that in mind when drafting Robin Lehner. [ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football: Sign up and join a league today! ] Detroit Red Wings Best known as a veteran team, the Red Wings brought in – guess what – more veterans during the offseason. But we can’t argue Ken Holland’s brilliance, so we applaud his players’ subsequent contributions to fantasy teams through the years … Detroit seems like the perfect home for Mike Green, whose role in Washington had been diminishing. Green averaged under 16 minutes of even-strength ice time last season, which in essence made him a fifth defenseman. An ESTOI increase means that a return to 50 points is not completely out of the question … At this stage in his career, Brad Richards is probably a late-round pick at best in single-season Yahoo leagues. However, he could be a sneaky early-season pickup with Pavel Datsyuk likely on the shelf to start the year following ankle surgery. Florida Panthers Since the Panthers are a cap floor team attempting to rebuild with youth, there’s very little to see here fantasy-wise … The most significant offseason acquisition was that of Reilly Smith, who was acquired from Boston along with Marc Savard’s contract for Jimmy Hayes. Yet Smith will still need to battle for minutes with youngsters Aleksander Barkov, Nick Bjugstad, and Jonathan Huberdeau and of course the venerable Jaromir Jagr … If you’re in one of those deep keeper leagues that rewards physical play, you may want to get your hands on first-round pick Lawson Crouse (6-3, 212 lbs.) Montreal Canadiens If you’ve played fantasy hockey for a number of years, you’ve probably been disappointed by Alexander Semin by now. But remember that the last time he signed a one-year contract, he was a point-per-game player. Don’t expect him to pull that off again this season, but he could very well be a top-6 forward for the offensively-challenged Habs … Although he is still only 24 years old, Zack Kassian will have a lot to prove. A power forward who has shown great hands at times, particularly with the Sedins in Vancouver, Kassian will need to improve his defensive game in order to stay out of Michel Therrien’s Chateau Bow Wow and thus earn top-6 minutes … Looking for an extremely deep sleeper? Try defenseman Mark Barberio, who was an afterthought for the Lightning during last year’s playoffs. Habs fans may remember Barberio from his QMJHL days, when he recorded point-per-game numbers for the Moncton Wildcats. Ottawa Senators The Senators don’t spend money like a Canadian politician with an expense account, so the offseason moves were also kept to a minimum here … The most significant offseason move was the trade of onetime goalie of the future Robin Lehner to the Sabres. This move opens the door for late-season sensation Andrew Hammond to not only sell more cheeseburgers in Ottawa, but also to earn a full-time NHL roster spot. The prospective Hammond/Craig Anderson goaltending battle will be one to watch. Hammond earned more wins (20) over 24 games than Anderson did (14) over 35 games. So does that mean the Hamburgler will be the starter come opening night? Not necessarily – he turned around and lost the starting job in playoffs. Either way, it will be worth keeping an eye on. Tampa Bay Lightning There is very little change on this roster, but this time it’s for all the right reasons. The trick for the Bolts will be attempting to keep all their young talent together once contracts begin to expire. In fact, there’s not much to add here when your top offseason acquisitions were Erik Condra, Tye McGinn, and Jeff Tambellini. There’s still oodles of fantasy goodness on this team, just nothing new to report. Toronto Maple Leafs If you want change, then you’ve come to the right paragraph, because there’s never a dull moment in Leafland. We all know that Phil Kessel is out and that Lou Lamoriello and Mike Babcock are in. And the list of new players seems endless … If the Leafs wanted to go about this rebuild properly, they weren’t going to make a splash with the big names. So their two most significant additions are P.A. Parenteau and Shawn Matthias, who could be top-6 forwards on the Leafs, unlike their previous teams. Keep in mind that they will probably be trade chips later in the season. Same with Mark Arcobello, who always seems to be a trade chip anyway. One other thing to consider – with no Phil Kessel you may be looking at no 60-point players. And probably only a small handful of 40-point players.

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Cunneyworth returns for 2nd stint to coach Sabres' AHL team (The Associated Press)

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) — Randy Cunneyworth is returning to the Rochester Americans for a second time to coach the Buffalo Sabres' American Hockey League affiliate.

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A meaningful journey

MONTREAL – Every summer, Alex Galchenyuk returns to his roots.

Back in late June, the Canadiens’ No. 27 packed his bags to make the 5,500 mile trek from his summer home in Miami to the Belarusian capital of Minsk, the city his grandparents call home. Accompanied by his father, Alexander, his mother, Inna, and his sister, Anna, the annual three-week trip is something the Galchenyuks – on both sides of the pond – look forward to all year long.

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What We Learned: Why are teams waiting on Cody Franson? (Puck Daddy)

The apparent sticking point in all these Cody Franson negotiations, which have stretched on impossibly long to this point, is that Franson would like a team to sign him for more than one year. Not that he’s hard-lining that, but it’s definitely a preference. And the thing is, teams should be falling all over themselves to give him that kind of term. Franson is 27 years old and to all appearances greatly helps his team. In a lot of respects, he could be considered a high-end No. 3 defenseman or a low-end No. 2. This despite being on rotten Toronto teams for the last three seasons and generally having a lot asked of him. He pushes positive possession, suppresses opponents’ shot attempts, generally outscores the other team, and so on. He also makes the teammates with whom he shares the ice post better numbers than they do without him. In short, Franson looks like a defenseman who should be pulling what you’d consider to be, say, Brooks Orpik money. Maybe that’s not a good example, so here’s a better one : Young(er) Andrei Markov.

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What We Learned: Why are teams waiting on Cody Franson? (Puck Daddy)

The apparent sticking point in all these Cody Franson negotiations, which have stretched on impossibly long to this point, is that Franson would like a team to sign him for more than one year. Not that he’s hard-lining that, but it’s definitely a preference. And the thing is, teams should be falling all over themselves to give him that kind of term. Franson is 27 years old and to all appearances greatly helps his team. In a lot of respects, he could be considered a high-end No. 3 defenseman or a low-end No. 2. This despite being on rotten Toronto teams for the last three seasons and generally having a lot asked of him. He pushes positive possession, suppresses opponents’ shot attempts, generally outscores the other team, and so on. He also makes the teammates with whom he shares the ice post better numbers than they do without him. In short, Franson looks like a defenseman who should be pulling what you’d consider to be, say, Brooks Orpik money. Maybe that’s not a good example, so here’s a better one : Young(er) Andrei Markov.

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Winners, losers in NBC Sports’ 2015-16 NHL TV schedule (Puck Daddy)

NBC Sports Group announced its 2015-16 NHL schedule on Monday, with 105 NHL regular-season games spread between the networks.  The NBC schedule can be found here , and the NBCSN schedule is here. Some teams made out great. Some teams … not so much. Here’s a look at the winners and losers in NBC’s 2015-16 TV schedule. LOSER: Connor McDavid He’s the most hyped NHL prospect since Sidney Crosby. Teams literally tanked last season for a chance to draft him. And what does that translate into for the Edmonton Oilers on American TV, after zero appearances in 2014-15? ONE GAME! McDavid will be on NBCSN on March 1, against the Buffalo Sabres. Yes, Jack Eichel was the only way for Connor McDavid to get on NBC. Clearly, someone at the network read too much into the dismal ratings for the NHL Draft. Connor McDavid getting one game on NBC doesn’t help the game in the U.S. Unless this the NHL’s sneaky way to sell more Center Ice subscriptions.  WINNER: Outdoor Games Along with Montreal and Boston in the 2016 Winter Classic from Foxboro, NBC will air both of the NHL’s Stadium Series games: Chicago at Minnesota on Feb. 21 and Detroit at Colorado on Feb. 27 in primetime. That’s pretty awesome, if completely understandable given the ratings Chicago and Detroit are going to generate for these games.  LOSER: Mike Babcock His former team was on 15 times last season and 16 this season; his new team is on just once … against his former team, on March 13. We can’t get one Kessel vs. the Leafs game on NBCSN? WINNER: Colorado Avalanche The Avs missed the playoffs last season but see their NBC Sports time increased by five games. LOSER: Dallas Stars Add Patrick Sharp to a mix that includes Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn and Jason Spezza. Subtract a game: Dallas has only three appearances on NBCSN and none on NBC, after four total last season. Doesn’t this team have star power? Do these people even read the ESPN Body Issue? (Well, does anyone really read it?) WINNER: Ed Snider Despite missing the playoffs last season, the Philadelphia Flyers jumped from 16 to 18 games on NBC and NBCSN this season, matching the total for the Pittsburgh Penguins. One of these teams added a 40-goal scorer to play with arguably the best player in the world. The other is the Flyers.  LOSER: New Jersey Devils As late as 2013-14, the Devils had seven games on NBC or NBCSN. Last season they were down to two. This season, they’re down to a single game against the Minnesota Wild on January 10. Not even against the Rangers or Flyers! NBC can smell the rebuild.  WINNER: Wednesday Night Cap NBCSN is airing six games after its RIVALRY NIGHT matchups featuring home dates for the Kings (twice), Sharks, Avs (twice) and Ducks. Hooray for Left Coast (and Colorado) hockey! LOSER: RIVALRY NIGHT Look, we’ve all had a chuckle at the extraordinarily loose definition of RIVALRY NIGHT. And while this season’s installment brings us some legit blood feuds (Rangers in Brooklyn vs. the Islanders) and logical heat (Detroit vs. Tampa Bay, for playoffs and Yzerman). But then we get a parade of “hey, they played for the Cup in the last 20 years, they must BE RIVALS!” games like Blackhawks vs. Flyers and the Red Wings against the Capitals and Flyers; and that Canadiens vs. Penguins games, because … uh … Kessel was a Leaf? Michel Therrien coaches the Penguins two coaches ago? Sergei Gonchar? WINNER: Tampa Bay Lightning The Stanley Cup runner up jumps from five games to eight games, including appearances on Rivalry Night and Sunday Night Hockey. LOSER: Anaheim Ducks The Sharks and Kings are on a combined 21 times. The Ducks, Western Conference runner up? Four times, down from seven last season. The hell? *** Here’s the full breakdown of appearances. The number in parentheses is last season’s total. PACIFIC DIVISION Anaheim Ducks: 4 (7) Arizona Coyotes: 1 (1) Calgary Flames: 0 (0) Edmonton Oilers: 1 (0) Los Angeles Kings: 10 (13) San Jose Sharks: 11 (13) Vancouver Canucks: (0) 0 CENTRAL DIVISION Chicago Blackhawks: (21) 20 Colorado Avalanche: 12 (7) Dallas Stars: (3) 4 Minnesota Wild: 12 (11) Nashville Predators: 4 (1) St. Louis Blues: 11 (11) Winnipeg Jets: 0 (0) ATLANTIC DIVISION Boston Bruins: 12 (17) Buffalo Sabres: 5 (11) Detroit Red Wings: 16 (15) Florida Panthers: 1 (0) Montreal Canadiens: 6 (2) Ottawa Senators: 0 (0) Tampa Bay Lightning: 8 (5) Toronto Maple Leafs: 1 (2) METROPOLITAN DIVISION Carolina Hurricanes: 1 (3) Columbus Blue Jackets: 1 (1) New Jersey Devils: 1 (2) New York Islanders: 5 (0) New York Rangers: 13 (14) Philadelphia Flyers: 18 (16) Pittsburgh Penguins: 18 (19) Washington Capitals: 11 (13) MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS

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Datsyuk meets Hulk; Johansson’s arbitration ask; Canadian dollar future (Puck Headlines) (Puck Daddy)

Here are your Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com .

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NHL is ‘eager to avoid’ expansion to Canada? (Puck Daddy)

Quebec City was one of only two cities to submit bids for an NHL expansion franchise last week, which means it’s time for major Canadian newspapers to explain why the League’s inherent bias against the Great White North will prevent the return of the Nordiques.  The Globe & Mail editorial page featured this piece on expansion, which we’ll attempt to translate for you here: Quebec City recently completed a major public infrastructure project ahead of schedule, and under budget. The normal course of events would see its spanking new, $370-million arena occupied by an NHL team. That’s why so much (public) money went into the building. The timing even looks to be ideal, as the league is in the midst of receiving applications for expansion franchises; two cities could advance to the next stage. What’s more, there are only two bidders – aspiring owners in Quebec and Las Vegas – for those maximum two expansion slots. The return of hockey to hockey-mad Quebec would seem to be as easy as scoring an empty-net goal from inside the crease. It isn’t. Yes, the normal course of events is to build a state-of-the-art arena and then have the NHL drop a team into it like a coin in a fountain. As Kansas City will no doubt tell you … The fact is that Quebec built an arena well before the NHL’s formal decision to explore expansion. One assumes they were privy to that new cycle’s arrival, but by no means was there a direct line between “build an arena” and “acquire a team,” nor is that a “normal course of events.” Anyone distracting themselves from the summer heat with daydreams of a revived Nordiques vs. Montreal Canadiens rivalry (The Battle of Quebec! The Good Friday Massacre!) had best take a deep breath. Just because Québecor principal shareholder/aspiring premier Pierre Karl Péladeau and irrepressible Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume built the Vidéotron Centre (with, we again note, a massive helping of taxpayer dollars) doesn’t mean the NHL will come. But bilking a municipality out of millions of taxpayer dollars in order to build an arena that may or may not house a team is the normal course of events! If anything, the NHL appears eager to avoid Quebec City, or any other location in hockey’s northern homeland. Here’s looking at you, Hamilton. Hamilton had one thing going for it, and then he (a) sold season tickets for the Hamilton Predators before he even owned the Nashville Predators and (b) attempted to use bankruptcy courts as a backdoor to NHL ownership because he knew the Board of Governors would never approve him and (c) is, to this day, having to defend his pursuit of an NHL team within the context of his company’s fall from its tech throne. So yes, here’s looking at you, Hamilton, and the smoldering carcass of your golden goose. Los Angeles has two NHL teams but the Toronto area still has but one; artificially limiting hockey supply in the biggest hockey market on Earth predictably leads to the Leafs recording league-topping revenues, year after year, regardless of their record on the ice. The NHL has denied for years that the Toronto Maple Leafs had veto power over another team in the market, despite the team having inferred as such when Jim Balsillie attempted to make his Hamilton move. But the kicker here, obviously, is that the NHL can only grant a franchise to someone that wants to buy one and house one. And did Toronto submit an expansion bid for a second team this week? See: Paragraph One.   Winnipeg only got its Jets back in 2011 because, when the Atlanta Thrashers went into financial cardiac arrest, Winnipeg was the one hospital available. It was a similar story for Calgary in 1980, after an earlier attempt at Sunbelt expansion failed: When the Atlanta Flames flamed out, they were moved north. (Recite now the Canadian Hockey Fan’s Prayer: Almighty NHL, we beseech thee, put another team in Atlanta. Please.) It should be also said that Winnipeg played the backroom handshake game better than many other suitors have with the NHL, keeping talks private and off the record. Rather, than, you know, doing everything Quebec City has done so far. At first glance, Quebec City’s bid ticks all of the league’s boxes: deep-pocketed corporate owner, ready-made television deal, rabid fan base and, of course, a state-of-the art arena, gifted by taxpayers. It might not matter. Something something strength of the Canadian dollar something something geographically undesirable given the current configuration of the league something. One of the benefits of running a cartel is that it, and not the market, sets the rules. In what other business is a prospective entrepreneur required to plead, cap in hand, with all of his North American competitors in order to set up shop? And then cut them a fat cheque for the privilege? There is no National Restaurant League limiting the number of restaurants on the continent to 30, with expansion to 32 conditional on new members paying a fee. In any other business, this would look suspiciously like restraint of trade. The NHL has a lot in common with various taxi monopolies currently being undone by Uber. Only there’s no Uber to disrupt pro hockey. Wow, there’s a lot to unpack here. Let’s start with the concept of franchises. The above assumes that the 30 NHL teams aren’t different branches of one business entity, when in fact they are. In many ways, NHL owners are buying McDonald’s franchises, and the parent company determines who does or does not get to operate one (the other 30 teams, literally, are on the Board). Granted, under this comparison, each McDonald’s battles against each other every summer to see you can land the best Happy Meal toys, and some franchises end up with “MINIONS” and other franchises end up with toys from “TOMORROWLAND” … The Uber comparison is an odd one. Uber is taking on the taxi monopolies in order to even the playing field. NHL expansion franchises are asking for admittance into an established business, not an industry. And the parent company has every right to limit franchises. Uber, in this comparison, would be the World Hockey Association taking on the NHL. And there’s obviously a reason there isn’t a rival to the NHL, which is that everyone wants to be a part of the NHL. (Then again, a 75-team League, as the editorial seems to envision, would be amazing to watch. Who wouldn’t want to see a 50-year-old Mike Sillinger skating on a line with your plumber?)  But the bottom line about any real-work financial comparisons with professional sports leagues: They just don’t apply. It’s fantasy land, where employees of a certain age are basically indentured servants and can be traded for each other and smack each other in the face with weapons with no legal ramifications. Most times. League commissioner Gary Bettman and the team owners seem strangely preoccupied with restoring conference balance – there are currently two more teams in the East than in the West. Quite why expansion, and not simple realignment, is the preferred solution isn’t all that clear. What’s strange about wanting an equal number of teams between the conferences? Yes, what an odd preoccupation: One conference has fewer teams competing for playoff spots, and the other one feels that’s unfair. What’s the simple realignment? Screw the Red Wings or Blue Jackets with a move back West to make room for Quebec City? Nothing is simple. This Reddit realignment, for example, could be effective but remakes the league. But most importantly, the league longs to build its U.S. presence, in media markets far bigger than Quebec City. Quebeckers, like all Canadians, already consume enormous quantities of televised hockey. Americans, especially the U.S. Sunbelt? Not so much. All of which puts Las Vegas in the catbird seat. Wait, so there are legitimate reasons – like creating new hockey fans rather than reaffirming established ones – for the NHL choosing a U.S. market over a Canadian one, rather than just “being eager” to avoid them? True, the NHL merely needs to name its price and Québecor will stroke a cheque. A Canadian NHL franchise is that valuable. But if the point were a one-time windfall for the existing owners, surely the NHL would simply allow a second team in Southern Ontario, and even a third. Or four! Or five! Hell, the Ontario Six, so all the good Canadian boys can play near their homes and Don Cherry can be the commissioner and … Instead, it’s entirely possible that the receipt of only two bids for new teams will mean that the NHL will decide to hold off on expanding until an arena deal is reached in Seattle – another highly coveted market. In any case, adding to the club of owners requires the assent of 23 of the 30 current clubs. As Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times explained on our podcast this week, the Seattle bid’s issues go beyond the arena deal. There’s a cash-flow problem with the bidders which could render the pursuit of a Seattle team pointless. This is why the NHL asked for owners to ante up, and this is (partially) why the Seattle bidders didn’t. And keep in mind that the addition of two teams, carrying wtih (sic) them a one-time payment of as much as $500-million each (all figures in U.S. dollars), the price the NHL has hinted at, wouldn’t bolster an existing owner’s bottom line all that much once it’s chopped up 30 ways. No, but it could be something that influences the sale price of existing teams. Expansion would also water down each team’s share of the U.S. and Canadian national television deals. Together, those two are worth about $600-million; expansion would split that pie 32 ways rather than 30. This ignores the additional revenue streams – including the billion black and gold Las Vegas jerseys that’ll sell – these new teams will bring to the table. Then there’s the league’s salary floor. At $52.8-million next season, it has risen almost 150 per cent since 2005. It is rising because some teams are taking in a lot more cash – but many struggling U.S. franchises are not. The upper salary cap limit could top $90-million in the next decade. Have fun making that work, Phoenix. AHEM, Arizona … The beauty of the salary cap floor is that it’s a total scam as long as teams are allowed trade cap space and take on dead contracts to hit the number. It’s like a blogger who needs to hit certain traffic milestones to – oh, I don’t know – get NHL credentials, and then runs a week of Ice Girls and Paulina Gretzky galleries. There’s always a way. And yet it may be that, no matter what it does or how attractive a market it is, Quebec City won’t get an expansion team. There’s a widely held belief that, even though a Quebec team would be an immediate success, the league would rather save the city as a fallback solution, to be used when a struggling Sunbelt club is at death’s door. This is the truest truth in this editorial. For all the “Coyotes to Seattle” chatter, the NHL would much rather move a team to a more established hockey market. Four summers ago, the returning Winnipeg Jets sold every one of their 13,000 season tickets – in two minutes. The same would happen in Quebec City. Oh boy, here we go … Meanwhile, the prospective Las Vegas owners have received deposits on about 13,000 seats – but getting there took four months. Had Vegas opened up the season ticket drive to casinos and businesses, they would have hit that number in half the time. But that’s not even the point here. Yes, we get it: Canadian markets are flush with hockey fans that will buy season tickets in milliseconds. The strength of Las Vegas as a current hockey market just needs to show a minimal interest and the potential for growth. Nashville didn’t sell 13,000 tickets in two minutes. Neither did Tampa. Neither did Columbus. Neither did Anaheim or San Jose. But those markets have minted new fans for the NHL. Which, we believe, was a point this editorial made several paragraphs ago regarding the League’s desire to go to the U.S. rather than Canada.   Canada, home to seven NHL teams, should get more eventually. But it may not happen through expansion, at least not directly. Pray for a repeat of Winnipeg’s Immaculate Relocation. Quebec City’s place as a relocation fallback is directly tied to the NHL expanding into new U.S. markets. If Seattle’s not in play, there’s every chance the NHL is going to accept $500 million (at a minimum) to bring hockey back to Quebec. Because if it’s the money they want, the application process showed there are few owners that can offer it up. If the NHL is willing to move a team there, then wouldn’t they be willing to sell a team to Quebec for double the price? MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY  

Continue reading NHL is ‘eager to avoid’ expansion to Canada? (Puck Daddy)

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Capitals sign goaltender Braden Holtby to US$30.5-million, five-year deal (The Canadian Press)

Braden Holtby is developing into one of the NHL’s elite goaltenders. The Washington Capitals on Friday signed Holtby to a US$30.5-million, five-year contract. Only the New York Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist ($8.5 million), Columbus Blue Jackets’ Sergei Bobrovsky ($7.425 million), Boston Bruins’ Tuukka Rask, Nashville Predators’ Pekka Rinne ($7 million), Montreal Canadiens’ Carey Price ($6.5 million) and Carolina Hurricanes’ Cam Ward ($6.3 million) take up bigger chunks of the salary cap.

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Hab at Heart: Kevin Durand

Having portrayed a wide range of characters over the years on both the small and big screens alike, actor Kevin Durand boasts a rather impressive body of work dating back to 1997. The son of French Canadian parents, Durand immediately gravitated to the sport of hockey – and the Montreal Canadiens – while growing up in Thunder Bay, ON, before eventually making his way to Hollywood to pursue his career in showbiz. Despite being 3,700 kilometers from home, Durand still represents the CH everywhere he goes. We recently caught up with the Canadian star to learn more about his remarkable passion for the bleu-blanc-rouge.

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Canadiens agree to terms on a three-year contract with Daniel Audette

PRESS RELEASE

MONTREAL – Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin announced on Friday that the team has agreed to terms on a three-year, entry level contract (2015-16 to 2017-18) with forward Daniel Audette.

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Canadiens sign former 40 goal scorer Alexander Semin to one-year contract (The Canadian Press)

Alexander Semin hopes to re-ignite his career. The Montreal Canadiens are making a low-risk gamble that he can. The Canadiens signed Semin to a US$1.1 million, one-year contract Friday, the kind of move that could pay major dividends if it works out or be written off as an cheap mistake if it fails.

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Canadiens sign former 40 goal scorer Alexander Semin to one-year contract (The Canadian Press)

Alexander Semin hopes to re-ignite his career. The Montreal Canadiens are making a low-risk gamble that he can. The Canadiens signed Semin to a US$1.1 million, one-year contract Friday, the kind of move that could pay major dividends if it works out or be written off as an cheap mistake if it fails.

Continue reading Canadiens sign former 40 goal scorer Alexander Semin to one-year contract (The Canadian Press)

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Alexander Semin joins Montreal after 3 years with Carolina (The Associated Press)

The Montreal Canadiens have signed Alexander Semin to a one-year contract for $1.1 million. The forward who once scored 40 goals with Washington has spent the last three seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes. Carolina owes the 31-year-old Russian $14 million over the next six years.

Continue reading Alexander Semin joins Montreal after 3 years with Carolina (The Associated Press)

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Canadiens take on Alex Semin with 1-year, $1.1 million deal (Puck Daddy)

What’s the perfect example of a “low risk/high reward” signing in the NHL? It’s Alexander Semin signing a one-year, $1.1 million deal with the Montreal Canadiens, which the 31-year old forward did on Friday. From the Habs : “We are very pleased to have reached a short term agreement with Alexander Semin. Alex is a pure goal scorer with a good shot. We believe his addition to our group of forwards will strengthen our offensive production and our powerplay. A veteran winger with size, Semin has reached the 20-goal plateau seven times since the beginning of his NHL career 12 years ago. His signing represents a great opportunity for the organization and for Alex’s career,” said general manager Marc Bergevin. Semin was bought out earlier this month by the Carolina Hurricanes after three years in Raleigh. The Hurricanes owe Semin $14 million over the next six years, so his signing with a new NHL team would be about the best fit and not the price tag. Semin struggled in Carolina, recording 6 goals and 19 points in 57 games last season. But now he’ll be motivated and have a chance for a re-birth in Montreal under Michel Therrien ( that  relationship should be fun to watch). “I want to try because last year was a bad season for me,” Semin said on a Friday conference call. “I [didn’t] score [many] points, I [didn’t] play well. I’m [trying to] going back to how I can play. I think team [can] help me and I can help for the team too.” Semin agent, Mark Gandler, stated this week in an interview with SovSport that his client was reviewing a few NHL offers while sending some pointed comments toward Carolina head coach Bill Peters. “[Semin’s] career can only go up. He is still young. His buyout was under unique circumstances and the (Hurricanes) coach did not understand Sasha’s game,” he said, as translated by HockeyVIPS.com . Regarding the possibility of going to the KHL, Semin shot that down. “I’m still younger,” he said. “I want to play here. My family likes living here, and I like [it], too.” Bergevin makes a small investment into something that could provide big returns. And if it fails, it’s a small blip on the radar. MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS :

Continue reading Canadiens take on Alex Semin with 1-year, $1.1 million deal (Puck Daddy)

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Canadiens agree to terms on a one-year contract with free agent Alexander Semin

PRESS RELEASE

MONTREAL – Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin announced today that the team has agreed to terms on a one-year contract (2015-16) with free agent forward Alexander Semin.

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Learning as he goes

BROSSARD – Way back in 2007, a 10-year-old Simon Bourque took part in the inaugural edition of the Canadiens Hockey School, paying close attention to his instructors and visiting NHLers. Eight years later, the roles have been reversed, and Bourque is the one addressing youngsters looking to follow in his footsteps down the road.

Continue reading Learning as he goes

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NHL receives expansion bids from Las Vegas, Quebec City (The Associated Press)

Bill Foley has put his money down on an NHL expansion team in Las Vegas. The two cities moved one step closer to joining the NHL as expansion teams after the league announced Tuesday it has received applications from prospective ownership groups in both markets, a day after a deadline for submissions. The Las Vegas bid was submitted by Foley, a billionaire businessman who has spent the past seven months exploring the level of interest for professional hockey in the gambling mecca.

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Quebec City and Las Vegas take lead in NHL's formal expansion process (The Canadian Press)

Quebec City and Las Vegas are now at the forefront of the NHL expansion movement. The NHL said it received requests from and sent applications to 16 different groups or individuals. Quebecor submitted a bid to bring the Nordiques back to Quebec City, while Bill Foley applied for a Las Vegas franchise.

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Oilers to honor Sather; Nicholls talks concussion lawsuit; Kopitar talks starting (Puck Headlines) (Puck Daddy)

Here are your Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com . 

Continue reading Oilers to honor Sather; Nicholls talks concussion lawsuit; Kopitar talks starting (Puck Headlines) (Puck Daddy)

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Hab at Heart: Danny Smiles

The longtime protégé of Chef Chuck Hughes, Danny Smiles put the advice of his mentor to good use, steadily climbing the restaurant industry ranks over the years. Through hard work and dedication, Smiles became the head chef at Old Montreal hot spot, Le Bremner, in addition to being named a finalist on Top Chef Canada. But, if there’s one thing he enjoys doing during a rare break in his schedule, it’s sitting down and watching the Habs battle it out for NHL supremacy. We recently caught up with the rising star in the Montreal culinary scene to learn more about his love for the CH.

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