Insider Trading: Sens bidder has claim to LeBreton Flats
The TSN Hockey Insiders discuss how one of the bidders for the Senators has a land claim to LeBreton Flats, how four or five teams are pushing to have Scott Howson replaced as AHL president and CEO, why Taylor Hall's return is being hampered by the Bruins' cap issues, and more.
Reda: They are The Insiders, Chris Johnston and Darren Dreger: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was in Ottawa on Monday where he noted the sale of the Senators was ‘progressing nicely’ and now Chris, we’re hearing that one of the potential bidders could be laying claim to a piece of land?
Johnston: Yes and that land would be LeBreton Flats, the most discussed area where the Ottawa Senators have been trying to build a rink it seems like for years. And what Gary Bettman said is still true, Gino; no slam dunk at all that the next owner of the Sens will be building a new arena down there, but an interesting detail has emerged from one of the groups bidding for the team. That’s that the Algonquins of Ontario are part of the First Nations group which has stepped up and is trying to buy the Senators and why that’s significant is that the Algonquins actually have a land claim on that piece of property at LeBreton Flats. It’s controlled, it’s a federally run piece of property that there’s clearly some unique opportunities there if they are the winning bid – and I can tell you that that group of representatives that is partnered with Graeme Roustan were in Ottawa on Monday for the Panthers-Senators game, they met with management on Tuesday and they very much remain in the mix trying to buy this team.
Reda: Now while the commissioner makes his rounds through the NHL cities, Darren, you’re hearing there may be questions surrounding the current American Hockey League commissioner?
Dreger: Yes, it’s a developing story around Scott Howson, who is the CEO and president of the AHL. Sources say that four or five teams are trying to have Howson replaced – now, this approach is a curious one, as it isn’t supported by all of the AHL teams and what’s also interesting here is that the NHL has largely been kept out of the mix until very recently. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly is now actively involved in trying to sort through what exactly is going on here so it’s something we continue to monitor. It’s also important to note that Howson is on an expiring contract at the end of the season but he went in with a lot of support replacing David Andrews who was the longtime AHL boss.
Reda: While we were at the general managers’ meetings in Florida earlier this month, there was some discussions about the salary cap and how it related to players that are on long-term injured reserve; is that a key topic of discussion right now with the Boston Bruins, Darren?
Dreger: Yes it is, specific to one player and maybe two – Taylor Hall and Nick Foligno of the Bruins. We know, according to reports and video, that Hall has been skating with the Bruins for several days now. Sources say that he feels he is ready. The problem is the Bruins don’t have the cap space to activate Hall. Now the NHL playoffs are less than three weeks away so it’s going to be interesting to see how the Bruins manage this situation or, if like the Tampa Bay Lightning a few years ago, they try and stretch it out until the start of the postseason so it’s something that I’m sure other clubs are paying attention to as well.
Johnston: And meanwhile as the Chicago Blackhawks play out the string on their regular season, there’s still a fair bit to play for for their captain, Jonathan Toews. Now Toews is trying to come back and play in one of the remaining games or preferably a few of the remaining games with just eight left on the schedule after Tuesday, and that’s because his future beyond this season is very much unknown, his future in Chicago is unknown, because of what’s gone on with the team there and he’s had significant health challenges. He opened up with reporters in Chicago on Tuesday, talking about the effects of the long COVID, about his uncertain future, but there’s a good feeling right now that he’s at least going to be able to play and at least have some sort of swan song with the Blackhawks before the end of this season.
Reda: As this NHL season is winding down, Darren, is the NHL looking at ways to potentially market the league in new ways for next season?
Dreger: Yes, a couple of new ideas are being discussed here, one would see a weekday where all 32 clubs play in one night during the week, it would be early in the regular season and they haven’t formalized this yet. Another one is the idea of setting a world record for continual running games – it might work in conjunction with the global series over in Europe and then the North American time zones, you could see a ton of hockey, if this is pushed through, in a 24-hour period.
Reda: Looking ahead to this week, the NHLPA will be introducing its new executive director, Marty Walsh, in a news conference this Thursday.