NHLNotebook: Arizona on the move, Dr. Omalu calls the NHL’s bluff, Phaneuf and the Expansion Draft

Updated: January 10, 2018 at 4:49 pm by Zach Laing


The NHLN Notebook is a semi-regular feature of interesting hockey content from the past few days that doesn’t quite deserve its own article. 

In today’s notebook, we look at Arizona possibly being on the move (again), Gary Bettman getting called out by Dr. Bennet Omalu who is the doctor that discovered CTE, and Bryan Bickell getting set to return to the NHL. Also, Dion Phaneuf may be asked to waive his no move clause to help Ottawa prospect younger defencemen come expansion draft time, and Dallas mulls over whether or not to sell at the deadline. 

Could Arizona be on the move?

On Tuesday, Darrell Jackson with the Glendale released an article stating that “according to officials in Seattle and Portland, members of the Arizona Coyotes have toured arenas in both locations in the past three months. The destinations appear to have been the KeyArena in Seattle and the Moda Center in Portland, Ore.”

It has been well known that the Coyotes have not been happy with their arena situation. Up until late last week, the team had the framework of a plan to move to Tempe, however, Arizona State pulled out of a potential deal.

As expected, the Coyotes denied that they looked around the area.

The Pacific Northwest is a location that the league has wanted to expand to for some time. With a estimated population of under four million in the Seattle Metropolian area, it is clear that the area could support and NHL team. Tacoma is only a 45 minute drive south of Seattle, while Everett is only a 45 minute drive north of Seattle.

As Jackson talked about in his article, the KeyArena in Seattle has been mostly empty since the Seattle Supersonics left in 2007, while the Moda Arena in Portland is currently home to the Portland Trailblazers in the NBA. 

Dr. Omalu calls out the NHL

There has been no so surprise that Gary Bettman has tried to gloss over things for sometime. Inherently, hockey is a violent sport. For over a hundred years, players have taken hits, delivered hits and players have certainly had careers shortened because of concussions. 

Dr. Bennet Omalu made a medical breakthrough in 2002 when he performed an autopsy on recently deceased former NFL player Mike Webster and diagnosed him with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). 

On Wednesday, Dr. Omalu wrote a letter to a lawyer representing former NHL players suing the league for it’s handling of concussions and brain trauma. The letter was filed in U.S. district court where the lawsuit is being argued in Minneapolis. 

The above linked tweets from Allan Walsh highlight some of what Dr. Omalu had to say. You can read the full letter here

Bickell nearing return at end of February

In Jan. 26’s, NHLN Notebook, I wrote about how Bryan Bickell was nearing a return to the NHL. 

Now, Bickell said to NHL.com earlier in the week how he is targeting the Hurricanes five-game homestand that begins on Feb. 17 for his return date. 

“I feel good,” Bickell said after a conditioning skate Tuesday. “I obviously don’t feel good right now, I just got skated pretty hard, but it’s going to help me down the long run. I think we’re getting there and getting close to getting back in the rotation. We’re shooting for probably after the bye week and then kind of day by day from there.”

The Hurricanes open their homestand with a Feb. 17 matchup against the Colorado Avalanche, then play the Maple Leafs on Feb. 19, the Penguins on Fe. 21, the Senators on Feb. 24 and the Flames on Feb. 26.

The one-year anniversary of the Dion Phaneuf trade, and his future in Ottawa

One year ago, the Leafs sent Dion Phaneuf and his massive contract to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for a whole bunch of other bad, short-term contracts. As the quote above suggests, Phaneuf was a very popular player on the Leafs, and his teammates were sad to see him go. That said, there’s no way you can argue this deal was anything but good for Toronto, who opened up quite a bit of cap flexibility with the move.

But anyways, on to the actual point. Buried deep, deep, deeeeeeeeep in the depths of a column by Don Brennan in the Ottawa Sun is the idea that the Sens may ask Phaneuf to waive his no movement clause so that he can be exposed in the expansion draft. That way, the team can protect Erik Karlsson (obviously), Marc Methot, and Cocdy Ceci, the article says. 

The sentiment seems to be that the Sens believe the Golden Knights won’t touch Phaneuf’s contract with a ten-foot pole, but still, it’s difficult to say if that’s the case. Would the Golden Knights want a veteran defenceman to anchor their blue line? One who’s been a captain at the NHL level in a difficult market? Also, someone who carries a cap hit that’ll help them reach the cap floor? Who knows! But Patrick O’Sullivan bluntly has some thoughts on what Dion may say to the Sens if they do ask him to sacrifice himself as tribute…

Dallas Stars half in, half out on deadline plan

According to Pierre LeBrun, the Dallas Stars, who, I should note, have struggled mightily with poor goaltending, have had preliminary discussions about Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury. 

We all know Fleury’s days in Pittsburgh are soon to be over, as the team will leave him exposed in the expansion draft in favour of the younger and better Matt Murray, who was signed to a three-year extension earlier this season. So the Pens will be trying to get something of value for Fleury before they run the chance of losing him for nothing, and the Stars make some sense, but Pittsburgh will have take on either Kari Lehtonen or Antti Niemi’s contract to balance it out.

On the flip side, LeBrun also reported that the Stars are unsure whether they’ll be buyer or sellers at the deadline and that decision will be made based on how they perform over the next couple of weeks. Right now, they’re seven points out of a playoff spot, which certainly isn’t an insurmountable mountain to climb, but they could be best served selling some assets like Patrick Sharp, Johnny Oduya, Jiri Hudler, and Patrick Eaves. They really do make an excellent seller candidate.