When TD was looking at selling its stake in MLSE, it told some prospective buyers that Gretzky would be a good person to have on board. A few of those buyers put out feelers to Gretzky and received a polite but non-committal response. None of those buyers was named Providence Equity Partners.
All of that chatter ended a long time ago and ceased entirely when TD sold its stake in MLSE but, Blake said, “somehow the whole thing got carried away.”
Speaking of the Coyotes
Thursday is deadline day for Glendale, Ariz., to come up with an owner who will buy the Coyotes from the NHL and keep them in the Phoenix suburb. But don’t expect the NHL to stick to its deadline. Why start now?
It’s hard to meet a deadline if there is no owner in sight. An NHL source who keeps an eye on the situation says it isn’t clear if Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf is still in the picture. Former San Jose Sharks president Greg Jamison is said to have a conditional deal but one of the major conditions is that he raise the money, which is proving to be a challenge.
Folks in Quebec are best advised to stay on alert.
When the NHL’s board of governors gather for their annual pow-wow on Dec. 5 and 6 in Pebble Beach, Calif., it will be the first time Toronto Maple Leafs chairman Larry Tanenbaum attends as a new power in the league. An NHL source says Tanenbaum was named to the 10-person governors’ executive committee, the one that has a role in every big decision. The Leafs were shut out of the halls of power for many years by commissioner Gary Bettman despite their status as the richest team in the league because they were moderates in the 2004-05 lockout. The freeze officially ended when Bettman filled a committee vacancy with Tanenbaum.
Randy Carlyle passed the 500-game mark as head coach of the Anaheim Ducks in late October, the longest tenure in franchise history. But not many are betting Carlyle will hit 600. He’s the latest NHL coach on the hot seat, thanks to the six-game losing streak and one win in 13 games the Ducks took into their game Sunday against the Maple Leafs. The line of Corey Perry-Ryan Getzlaf-Bobby Ryan that was so dominant last season is flailing badly. The only thing that may be keeping Carlyle employed right now is the expense of paying off that three-year contract extension he signed in August. After the Leafs, the Ducks will face the Montreal Canadiens, Philadelphia Flyers and Minnesota Wild this week in hopes of a turnaround.
Some milestones to look for this week: Phil Kessel of the Maple Leafs to play his 400th NHL game Saturday against his old team, the Bruins; Martin St. Louis of the Lightning needs three points to hit 800 for his career and plays Monday in Minnesota.
FIVE GAMES TO WATCH
Predators at Oilers
If you’re interested in the NHL’s trophies, this one has some candidates going head-to-head. Calder candidates as top rookies are Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of Edmonton and Craig Smith of Nashville. Both Nikolai Khabibulin of the Oilers and Pekka Rinne of the Preds will get votes as top goalie, while Nashville blueliner Shea Weber is a favourite for the Norris as best defenceman. Monday, 9:30 p.m., Sportsnet-West.
Penguins at Rangers
Sidney Crosby’s comeback takes him to the Big Apple but there’s another reason to watch this one. It is the first game for the Penguins agitator Matt Cooke against the Rangers since he was suspended for 10 games last regular season, plus the first round of the playoffs, for a head shot on Ryan McDonough of the Rangers. Tuesday, 7:30 p.m., TSN2.
Penguins at Capitals
This is the first Crosby-Ovechkin showdown of the season. It’s also the first Washington-Pittsburgh game since the Arron Asham of the Pens KO’ed Jay Beagle of the Caps in a preseason fight. Beagle only started skating recently. You’ll need the Centre Ice package or a good sports bar to see it. Thursday, 7 p.m., NHL Network-US, Root TV.
Coyotes at Jets
Here it is, the first visit by the former Jets to the home in Winnipeg they abandoned in 1996. If it is possible for a crowd to boo for the entire 60 minutes of a game, it will happen here. Thursday, 8:30 p.m., TSN-Jets.
Flames at Oilers
Edmonton’s youngsters are trying to stay in playoff contention while Calgary is merely trying to stay afloat. But it’s the Battle of Alberta, so this one should be emotional. Saturday, 10 p.m., CBC.