Connect with us


Vegas Expansion Team Avoids Gambling, Hires McPhee as GM



Bill Foley emerged from his Montana ranch with a decision and some comfort — the hiring of Las Vegas’ first NHL general manager would not be a gamble.

On Wednesday, George McPhee, the former 16-season GM for the Washington Capitals, was unveiled as the front-office boss of the Vegas team set to join the Western Conference’s Pacific Division when the league expands to 31 teams for the 2017-18 season.

Foley, the franchise’s majority owner and public face, tapped McPhee over other worthy hockey people — including Pittsburgh Penguins assistant GM Jason Botterill and ex-Arizona Coyotes GM Don Maloney — after conducting interviews with seven candidates at his Midwest ranch in recent weeks.

“I was looking for a guy who was going to be dedicated,” Foley said during a Wednesday news conference. The financial services billionaire, along with right-hand man and ex-NHLer Murray Craven, sought someone with a “take-no-prisoners, want-to-win attitude” and extensive experience on the management side.

McPhee, who has held down various prominent front-office roles in the NHL since 1992, checks off all those boxes, and more, according to Foley: “George is going to run the show … I’m not a hockey guy, he’s the hockey guy.”

McPhee joined the New York Islanders last season as GM Garth Snow’s special advisor following a lengthy tenure at the helm in Washington (1997-2014). His resume also includes time as vice-president of hockey operations for the Vancouver Canucks and seven seasons as a player for the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils.

Something the 58-year-old hasn’t done? Manage a team through the expansion process.

“It’s a clean slate. It’s what every GM wants to experience at some point in his career,” McPhee said.

While aware of the challenges ahead, McPhee spoke about building a championship team sooner than later.

“Our mission here is clear,” the Guelph, Ont. native said. “We’re going to build an organization and a team that people in Nevada and Las Vegas will be proud of and we’re going to do it quickly and we’re aiming at the Stanley Cup. It’s that simple.”

Talent, leadership, size, depth and character were attributes McPhee rhymed off when asked to describe the roster he plans on assembling in the coming months with the help of a soon-to-be hired scouting staff. Three off-season events — the entry draft, expansion draft and free-agency period — will be McPhee and Co.’s first stretch of real activity.

“I think a lot of people are going to want to play here. It has a lot to offer,” McPhee said of Vegas, later dismissing the party stigma by saying “there are distractions everywhere.”

A sidebar to McPhee’s unveiling at T-Mobile Arena, the team’s 17,500-seat home, was the club’s nickname. Foley has yet to announce a moniker and said there will not be a name-the-team contest.

“I have my GM,” he said. “Now I need to get my name. That’s the next step.

Reports indicate “Knights” or “Black Knights” is the betting choice, with Foley admitting Wednesday the NHL has put the kibosh on nicknames with ties to gambling.

Fortunately for Foley, competition for the pro sporting dollar in Vegas will be nonexistent, at least to start, as NBA commissioner Adam Silver said Tuesday the league has “no plans to expand at this present time.”


If P.K. Subban had his way, he would be spending his summer plotting out ways to bring the Stanley Cup to Montreal, not adjusting to life as a Nashville Predator.

The flashy defenceman, sent to the Predators for Shea Weber on June 29 in a shocking one-for-one transaction, hoped his childhood dream of playing for the Montreal Canadiens would end on his own terms.

“Montreal’s going to be home because of the relationships that I’ve built here,” Subban said Tuesday in an interview with Sportsnet. “I love Montreal. I’ve always loved the city. When it really comes down to it, I never envisioned myself playing for any other team other than the Montreal Canadiens.”

A Norris Trophy winner in 2013 and still regarded as one of the world’s best blueliners, Subban felt he did everything right. Shipping him to Nashville, though, was not his decision.

“This is a business,” Subban said. “We can’t forget that. I’ve always looked at it that way — that I could very well be traded like anybody else on the team. I just tried to work as hard as I could on the ice to not make that happen.”


Jesse Puljujarvi is the latest early first-rounder to finalize an entry-level contract. The No. 4 pick at last month’s draft has inked a three-year pact with the Edmonton Oilers that is reportedly paying Puljujarvi $3.425 over the course of the deal. Patrik Laine (No. 2) and Pierre-Luc Dubois (No. 3) have also signed. When will Auston Matthews and the Toronto Maple Leafs end their stalemate? … What’s old is new again in the Sunshine State. Cory Conacher, dealt to the Ottawa Senators to the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2013 in exchange for Ben Bishop, has signed a one-year deal with the Lightning. The 5-foot-8 forward will make $575,000 next season … The Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins have re-upped Justin Schultz. The 26-year-old defenceman will earn $1.4 million during the 2016-17 season before becoming a restricted free agent next summer … Finnish winger Teemu Pulkkinen and the Detroit Red Wings have agreed on a one-year contract extension. Pulkkinen, 24, will reportedly make $812,500 … Restricted free agent J.T. Miller has signed a two-year, $5.5-million contract extension with the New York Rangers … Could Alexander Nylander, the Buffalo Sabres’ latest top-10 pick, start with the big club this fall? GM Tim Murray isn’t ruling out such a scenario, telling reporters at the team’s development camp that visions of Nylander lining up with rising stars Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart shouldn’t be viewed as fantasy. “He’s going to be a real good NHL player,” Murray added. “It’s a matter of time.”

Read More..

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Up and Coming Sports Stars to Look Out for in 2020



Every year, a raft of exciting new players come onto the scene across all of the major US sports. With the MLS season getting underway and the NFL and MLB drafts not too far away, now is a great time to look at the young sports stars that could have a very bright future ahead of them, and the ones that are already proving they are destined for greatness.

Theo Bair (MLS)

This MLS season is looking like it could be one of the best yet, with David Beckham’s Inter Miami team adding some extra dazzle to the league. Whilst Beckham might be able to attract a lot of new players to his MLS team, there are a lot of young stars on their way through such as Theo Bair at Vancouver Whitecaps. Bair has already made an impact on the first team and after impressing at under-20 and under-23 level for the national team, he has made two appearances for the senior team, well before his 21st birthday. This year could see Bair make a real name for himself in the MLS.

Source: Pixabay

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (MLB)

Montreal-born Vladimir Guerrero Jr has one MLB season under his belt but it looks like the best is still yet to come from him at the Blue Jays. He was heavily backed to take the league by storm but he failed to live up to the hype that surrounded him. Without the pressure of being the top-ranked prospect, this season could see Guerrero play with some weight lifted off his shoulders. He has been working very hard on his fitness over the offseason, something that his manager Montoyo has been quick to comment upon.

Baseball by andrewmalone, on Flickr

Baseball” (CC BY 2.0) by andrewmalone

Connor McDavid (NHL)

McDavid has already established him as a top hockey player but at 23, he has the potential to go on to do so much more. The player was born in Ontario and was the first overall draft pick, showing how much expectation was already on him at that stage but he has gone on to prove that he is one of the best players in the NHL. McDavid could go on to be one the NHL’s best-ever hockey players and this season could be the year that he shows the world, not just the NHL.

Chuba Hubbard (College Football)

The Oklahoma State Cowboys running back has been making the headlines for several years now. He continues to improve and grab more attention for his impressive stats and performances. He was close to being a sprinter and nearly made the Canadian Olympic team before switching over to football. He is passing up the 2020 NFL draft to play his senior season at Cowboys. He should give them a good chance of winning the College Football Championship, though they’re trailing at the seventh spot in the latest American football odds at +2400.00, with Clemson as the current betting favorites.

2020 will definitely be a very exciting time with some of these young stars looking to breakthrough in their respective sports and show the world what they are capable of.

Continue Reading


Bob Baffert is back at the Kentucky Derby – and looking to break the Curse of Apollo



Bob Baffert is back at the Kentucky Derby with early favourite Justify after watching the race from his sofa in Southern California last year.

The Hall of Fame trainer’s ability to produce Derby contenders year after year is an enviable feat and why his absence a year ago stood out. It was just his second since 2009 and occurred because his lone candidate got hurt.

Baffert will saddle Justify and 30-to-1 shot Solomini in Saturday’s Derby.

Justify is one of the greenest colts Baffert has brought to Churchill Downs. He’s won all three of his starts by a combined 19 lengths. If Justify wins, he’d be the first to do so since Apollo in 1882 without racing as a two-year-old.

“The thing about the Kentucky Derby, you have to have the right horse. It just happens. You can’t force it,” Baffert said. “All of a sudden, you have good horses and you’re there. So I’ve been really fortunate to have some really good horses.”

Baffert’s four victories are tied for second-most in Derby history. He’s finished second three times, too, including in 2012 with Bodemeister, also the last time he had two starters in the same year.

Like Justify, Bodemeister didn’t race as a two-year-old. He set a blistering pace and led the Derby until the final 150 yards when I’ll Have Another overtook him to win by 1 1/2 lengths.

Magnum Moon, the 6-to-1 third choice, also is unbeaten and didn’t run as a two-year-old.

“It’s going to happen,” Baffert said, referring to the curse being broken. “Whether it happens this year or whatever, but it will happen because Bodemeister almost got away with it. But I don’t really worry about that.”

Baffert almost had a third starter this year until McKinzie developed a hind-end issue that knocked him off the Derby trail.

“When McKinzie got hurt, I wanted to throw up,” he said. “I really think McKinzie would probably be second choice here. We’d really have a 1-2 here.”

Justify cleared the biggest pre-Derby hurdle by drawing the No. 7 post. Jockey Mike Smith can use the colt’s early speed to position him well for the long run to the chaotic first turn. Solomini ended up in the No. 17 post; no horse has ever won from there.

Baffert turned 65 in January, making him eligible for Medicare and retirement at most other jobs. However, he entertains no such thoughts.

“I work hard at it. I just don’t give up,” the white-haired trainer said. “I’m constantly meeting people. They’re sending me horses. If you don’t have success, you’re not going to get those opportunities.”

After a successful run in the quarter horse ranks, Baffert switched to thoroughbreds. He started with one horse.

“After 25 years, I’m finally getting horses that I don’t have to buy,” he said. “The big guys are sending me horses.”

None was bigger than American Pharoah in 2015. The colt swept the Derby, Preakness and Belmont to become racing’s first Triple Crown winner in 37 years.

Baffert has compared Justify to American Pharoah, citing the colt’s imposing physical presence and big stride. Still, Justify has yet to encounter the kind of traffic the Derby’s 20-horse stampede creates and the talent as he’ll run against on Saturday.

“I’d rather have a really talented horse than one who’s seasoned and just on par with the rest of them,” Baffert said.

Early on, Baffert knew Justify had the goods.

“The first time I worked him at Santa Anita, I knew he was a really good horse,” he said. “The track was really deep that morning, and he went around there effortlessly. His first race, he ran incredibly and showed how special he was.”

That kind of intuition is what separates Baffert from his rivals, fellow Hall of Famer trainer D. Wayne Lukas said.

“Bob’s got a great feel for it,” he said.

Read more…

Continue Reading


Matthews ready to return to Maple Leafs lineup after missing a month



NASHVILLE — The hurtin’ tune that Auston Matthews has been singing for the past four weeks finally can be put in the remainder bin in Music City.

The Maple Leafs’ top centre on Wednesday declared himself set to return to the lineup after recovering from a right shoulder injury.

Wonderful timing, of course, considering the Leafs will take on the No. 1 club in the National Hockey League, the Nashville Predators, on Thursday night.

“In my mind, I think I’m ready to go and taking it as I’m getting ready to play (Thursday),” Matthews said after resuming his normal role, between William Nylander and Zach Hyman, during practice at Bridgestone Arena.

“It felt good, nice to get in all the reps and everything. (Wednesday) was a good step forward in that process, going through the line rushes.”

It seemed probable that the Leafs also will have defenceman Nikita Zaitsev, who missed the past five games as he recovered from an illness, against Nashville. Zaitsev was paired with Jake Gardiner, his regular partner, at practice.

For Matthews, it has been 10 games as a spectator with his latest injury, his third of the 2017-18 regular season after he missed four games in November with a back issue and then sat for six in December because of a concussion.

Thursday will mark four weeks since Matthews was hurt when he was sandwiched by the New York Islanders’ Cal Clutterbuck and Adam Pelech in a game at the Air Canada Centre.

A major bonus for Matthews in his recovery has been the fact he has been able to skate though much of his recuperation. That was not the case when he was out with his previous two injuries.

It’s worth noting that Matthews scored two goals versus the Montreal Canadiens upon returning on Nov. 18 from his back injury; in his first two games upon coming back from a concussion, he scored a goal in each.

Mike Babcock said a final decision on the participation of Matthews and Zaitsev against the Predators would be made on Thursday morning, but the Leafs coach was talking as though it would be a rubber stamp.

“This is going to be the best opportunity for (Matthews) because he has been able to skate and compete,” Babcock said. “The other times he was not able to do anything.

“To get him back … it’s still going to be going way faster than he has been practising, so there is going to be an adjustment period, but he’s a good player and he will figure it out.”

Defenceman Morgan Rielly didn’t think Matthews will take long to find his footing. Rielly missed six games in late January/early February with an arm injury, so knows what Matthews could be feeling.

“You’re nervous and you just want to get back into it,” Rielly said. “You play your first shift a bit hesitant, but after that it’s important you get back to yourself.

“It’s never easy, but Auston is one of those guys that I will imagine it won’t take long for him to get back into a rhythm.”

And there’s the trickle-down effect through the forward lines with Matthews in uniform.

“Guys are used to playing with certain players and when everyone is healthy, I think you get better chemistry throughout the entire lineup,” centre Nazem Kadri said. “Certain guys don’t have to play with different guys constantly and it’s just more of a set group, so I think it’s going to help us.”

Continue Reading