Rangers extension makes Alain Vigneault NHL’s third-highest paid coach, report says

The New York Rangers have signed coach Alain Vigneault to an extension through the 2019-20 season that reportedly will make him the third-highest-paid coach in the NHL.

With the Rangers (31-17-1) in fourth place in the Metro Division with 63 points, the extension is as much about expectations as it is a reward for Vigneault, according to the New York Daily News.

The expectation: Bring the Rangers their first Stanley Cup since 1994, which would be Vigneault’s first as a coach.

CTV is now reporting a Calgary judge has ruled in favor of Heatley, awarding him $4.167 million from Presidential Suites Inc., and $2.348 million from Waterfront Development Inc., sums that he invested in the companies respectively that he was supposed to be paid back 100 percent.

Perhaps adding legs to Heatley’s lawsuit is that his former Senators teammate, Chris Phillips, is also suing McAlpine and his parents for millions listing those same real estate companies, citing unapproved real estate investments.

Heatley played 317 games for the Senators, scoring 180 goals, including back-to-back 50-goals seasons in 2006 and 2007. Ottawa reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2007 with Heatley.

But now is as fair a time as any to ask if Draisaitl is a product of McDavid, or really a player capable of driving play on his own accord, although, in the broader scheme of things, the question really doesn’t matter.

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Jets’ Patrik Laine out indefinitely with concussion from massive hit

Jets rookie winger Patrik Laine suffered a concussion Saturday afternoon against the Sabres and is out indefinitely.

Laine, the second-overall pick in last year’s draft whose 21 goals rank third in the NHL, was laid out in an open-ice hit by Buffalo defenseman Jake McCabe in the 4-3 loss. The collision, 5:38 into the third period, sparked a line brawl between the teams as Laine fell backward, his head appearing to make contact with the ice.

As tends to be the case in Hollywood, the red carpet will be strong with this one beginning at Friday’s NHL100 event.

John Legend, Robin Thicke and John Ondrasik of Five for Fighting have been announced as performers during the ceremony, and Hollywood Reporter noted Michael J. Fox, Keanu Reeves, Al Michaels and Alex Trebek all will be presenters as the NHL reveals its list of the 100 best players in history.

For Sunday’s main event, Fifth Harmony and Carly Rae Jepsen are set to sing the anthems for the All-Star Game with Nick Jonas performing during the second intermission.

None of these names outrank Snoop Dogg.

In one of the longer divorce proceedings in recent NHL memory, the Avalanche continue to entertain the possibility of trading 26-year-old center Matt Duchene. However, GM Joe Sakic continues to frustrate potential trade partners, Avs fans and Duchene himself in failing to pull the trigger on a deal, prolonging a situation that first picked up steam at last year’s trade deadline.

Most experts believed Duchene would have had his Rocky Mountain tenure ended by now, likely by the draft in June, but Sakic — somewhat to his credit — seeks a major haul in return for Colorado’s top trade chip. Of course, there are others — count Islanders general manager Garth Snow in this camp you’d have to imagine—- who see Sakic as gun shy and afraid to get burned by dealing away a player who scored 30 goals two years ago and has 418 points in 572 games despite an off year in 2016-17.

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Stars’ team plane turns back due to smoke in cockpit

A plane carrying the NHL’s Stars was forced to return to a St. Louis-area airport when smoke filtered into its cockpit shortly after takeoff Sunday morning.

According to the Belleville News-Democrat, the flight departed St. Louis Downtown Airport in Cahokia, Ill., at 11:52 a.m. headed for Los Angeles, where the Stars play the Kings on Monday. But the Boeing 737 turned around within five minutes, the report said, and landed safely back at the airport.

The true mark of a difference-maker in the NHL can be his ability to score a goal from the most pedestrian looking play. Crosby split the defense and, while falling down, turned nothing into something.

In the early stages of his career, Crosby was very unkind to the Flyers. His first game in Philadelphia ended with him scoring the overtime winner. Early in his second season, Crosby and the Penguins traveled to the Wachovia Center (now the Wells Fargo Center) for the teams’ first matchup of the 2006-07 season. Crosby and the Penguins easily won the game, 8-2, and Crosby had his name all over the scoresheet, completing his first-career hat trick midway through the second period.

Crosby was already at the top of the NHL when the calendar turned over to 2011, and it looked like the league’s top player was somehow taking his game to yet another level. In the first 38 games of that season, Crosby couldn’t stop scoring, racking up 32 goals and 33 assists in Pittsburgh’s first 38 games.

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Stars poke fun at crowd for Trump inauguration

Clearly, the Dallas Stars have a good sense of humor.

After the number of people who attended Friday’s inauguration of Donald Trump as the country’s 45th president was disputed, the Stars poked fun at the president’s latest spat with the media.

While most reports say fewer than 900,000 people braved the rain and cold weather to fill the Washington Mall, the Trump administration is claiming the crowd had at least 1.5 million people.

Get my feel back, get some minutes, get some good practices in and then hopefully everything feels good to come back up, Bickell said Thursday after practicing with the Hurricanes (via CarolinaHurricanes.com).

Bickell was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in early November and has missed 48 games this season.

This is a real good step for him, an opportunity, and a step closer to getting back to the NHL. I think it’s an exciting time for him to get back and play, Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said. It’s a good situation for him to go play at the AHL level.

Though Bickell has been practicing with the Hurricanes for more than a month, he last played in a game on Oct. 30.

It’s going to be good to get back out there and play hockey again, Bickell said. It’s definitely special. They didn’t think I’d come back this quick. Maybe next year. This was my goal: to get back as fast as possible and feel normal as quick as possible.

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NHL reveals captains for 2017 All-Star Game

They’re no John Scott, but this year’s group of All-Star Game captains includes plenty of star power.

Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby, Montreal’s Carey Price, Edmonton’s Connor McDavid and Nashville’s P.K. Subban were voted by fans to helm their respective divisions during the NHL’s 3-on-3 tournament later this month in Los Angeles.

This is an historic moment for the National Hockey League, commissioner Gary Bettman said. The 2017 NHL China Games presented by O.R.G. Packaging represent the formal launch of what we hope will be a long and successful collaboration between our league, our teams and our partners in accelerating the development of hockey in China.

We look forward to our first games in China and to a variety of initiatives that will inspire generations of Chinese players and fans to enjoy our sport. We recognize the importance of helping China build a strong national hockey program and are committed to supporting that priority in every way possible.

The teams are scheduled to face off Sept. 21 at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai and Sept. 23 at the Huaxi LIVE Wukesong’s Le Sports Center in Beijing. Both Los Angeles and Vancouver have previously held youth hockey camps in China, though the exhibition meetings will be the first games to be played.

Meanwhile, the NHL has yet to be confirmed for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.

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Flyers’ Brandon Manning could face discipline for hit on Penguins’ Jake Guentzel

A discipline hearing has been set for Brandon Manning.

The Flyers defenseman is scheduled to meet with the NHL Department of Player Safety on Monday morning, following his crushing hit on Penguins rookie forward Jake Guentzel during Saturday’s NHL Stadium Series game at Heinz Field.

Manning rocked Guentzel with what appeared to be a high head check during the second period of Philadelphia’s loss to Pittsburgh in the outdoor showdown.

No penalty was assessed on the questionable play.

Guentzel, who finished with two assists and has 14 points in his first 23 games with the Penguins, stayed in the game and didn’t appear to be injured. Nonetheless, Manning likely won’t be able to avoid suspension, especially after delivering controversial hits in the past.

Laine has shown a goal-scoring ability not often displayed by rookies. This season he became the first rookie with three hat tricks in a season since Teemu Selanne and Eric Lindros in 1992-93.

Matthews, meanwhile, is leading the Maple Leafs on a tremendous turnaround. Toronto finished last in the NHL a year ago; now it’s in the playoffs.

It’s a close call, but I’m leaning toward Matthews because he has his team in the playoffs. Laine and Jets missed the playoffs by a lot.

Martin Hanzal, C ( Signed with Stars ) The big, 6-6 centerman is hardly a sexy addition, but he was traded for a first-round pick at last season’s deadline. Hanzal, 30, is affordable at $4.75 million over the next three years and provides additional depth down the middle for the Stars. Can never have too much of that.

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Should the Royals buy, sell, or stay at the MLB trade deadline?

It’s been known for some time now that 2018 was going to be a rough season for the Royals, so 2017 was seen as a possible last hurrah for this core group of players. Things didn’t quite start that way, when the Royals this time, finally, were as awful as the pre-season projections expected them to be.

Given the inherent unpredictability that comes from short postseason series that follow a long, grinding season, there is no such thing as an inevitable World Series matchup. We see top regular season teams fall in short series all the time, most notably when the 116-win Mariners fell in the 2001 ALCS. With all of that being said, each league this season has a team that is soaring above the rest. Both the Dodgers and the Astros have been on fire pretty much since the season began, and if other teams around the league were hoping the All-Star break would slow them down, they’re going to be sorely disappointed.

The Dodgers were on an absurd tear when they were stopped by the All-Star Game festivities, winning 26 of their last 30 games in the first half. That opened up a huge lead in the competitive National League West, and the only hope for a team like the Diamondbacks was if they struggled out of the gate in the second half. On Friday, they didn’t put together a dominant win in Miami, but rather a thrilling one in which Yasiel Puig’s second homer of the night gave L.A. the late lead and eventual victory.

The Astros, meanwhile, weren’t quite as hot as the Dodgers heading into the break, but they were still nearly unstoppable. If you are given a choice between an Astros/Dodgers World Series matchup or the field, you have to take the field. That being said, it’s been a long time since a matchup seemed more inevitable than this one, and it’s becoming clear that nothing can slow these teams down.

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