Vegas Hockey Now Notebook is a feature that will run regularly on Wednesdays moving forward. VHN will look at the VGK as well as other NHL news and notes, plus the greater world of hockey. If you have a story you’d like to see featured, please reach out to Tom Callahan on Twitter.
LAS VEGAS TO HOST 2026 NCAA FROZEN FOUR
This is a fantastic story coming out this week, as T-Mobile arena will host the 2026 NCAA Frozen Four. The University of North Dakota is the host school for the event.
For those unfamiliar with the event, this is the “Final Four” of college hockey, leading to the crowning of a national champion at the tournament’s end. College hockey has produced superstars across the generations and this year’s NHL Rookie of the Year Cale Makar played in the final with UMass last season. Other college hockey notables include the Vegas Golden Knights’ Max Pacioretty, Stanley Cup Champion Jonathan Toews, and 16 Hockey Hall of Famers.
Vegas will also host a men’s basketball regional in 2023.
BLACKHAWKS ADMIT REBUILD
Speaking of Toews, his angry and surprised reaction to the Blackhawks apparent rebuilding – unbeknownst to him – prompted an open letter to fans on Twitter:
A message to Blackhawks fans. pic.twitter.com/7wBXrJPDQ1
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) October 20, 2020
Fans reactions have ranged between “well, duh” to annoyance and anger, but when you win three Stanley Cups and pay dearly for the talent to do so, eventually the piper must be paid. Chicago has done a remarkable job of moving big contracts when needed to keep its head above water, but don’t fool yourself. Despite their solid playoff showing in the Return to Play, without the pandemic this was not a playoff team.
HOFFMAN STILL AVAILABLE
Mike Hoffman and his 29 goals remain out on the open market. Today his agent Robert Hooper said 13 teams have expressed interest in him with five or six considered “serious contenders”. Hooper said that Hoffman is open to a one-year deal, but indicated that interested teams are handcuffed by the new cap realities of the pandemic.
TSN’s Frank Seravalli noted he believes that a one-year deal for Hoffman would run roughly $5.5-6.5M.
It makes you appreciate all the hoops that VGK GMKM had to jump through to sign Alex Pietrangelo.
ECHL ANNOUNCES 13 TEAMS WILL START PLAY IN JANUARY
Nothing is normal in the new normal, and the ECHL announced earlier this week that the league will see 13 teams play a full 72-game schedule, with the remaining teams joining in some time in February with a shorter schedule of games.
Of course, everything is tentative in the COVID-19 world, including fans at games. If you think the NHL relies on butts in seats, that goes up tenfold in the minors. If the ECHL can get fans in every building by the time they drop the puck, that’s a major victory.
Tom’s Daily: Golden Knights Game Postponed, Hertl Out for SJ
Tom’s Daily: The Vegas Golden Knights game with the San Jose Sharks Thursday night has been postponed, Sharks’ Tomas Hertl on COVID-19 protocol list; Boston Bruins – Philadelphia Flyers most-watched game ever on NBCSN with over 1 million viewers; NHL Schedule Updates; more
Vegas Golden Knights – San Jose Sharks game postponed for Thursday night out of “an abundance of caution.” (VegasHockeyNow)
Related: San Jose’s Tomas Hertl has been placed in the COVID-19 protocols by the NHL. (SanJoseHockeyNow)
The NHL has issued more schedule updates for games postponed by COVID-19 protocols. (NHL.com)
Freddie Andersen getting closer to returning for the Toronto Maple Leafs (TSN)
A “shaken” Artemi Panarin is taking time away from the New York Rangers following accusations coming out of Russia. USA Today takes a look at how Vladimir Putin’s reach and influence still hangs over Russian players. (USA Today)
The Bruins – Flyers game at Lake Tahoe on Sunday broke records including the most-watched regular season NHL game ever on NBCSN. (NBC Sports)
Good to see Henrik Lundqvist back on the ice again. (NHL.com)
Tom’s Daily: VGK Tickets; Aex Tuch Promoted; more
Tom’s Daily: Vegas Golden Knights announce ticket sales plans; Alex Tuch promoted to top line duties; Former BMG member Marc Roberts enjoying life with the VGK; Habs fire Julien, Muller; more.
The Vegas Golden Knights have announced the team’s ticket sales plans for games with limited capacity at T-Mobile Arena (VegasHockeyNow)
Alex Tuch has played his way to the top line, continuing his successful run with the Golden Knights in last year’s playoffs. (VegasHockeyNow)
Former Blue Man Group member Marc Roberts is loving his new role with the Vegas Golden Knights. (VegasHockeyNow)
Don’t look now, but here come the Los Angeles Kings. (Sports Illustrated)
The Canadiens have fired head coach Claude Julien and assistant coach Kirk Muller. (Sportsnet)
Marcus Foligno calls in the linesman to stop fight with Sharks rookie early. Know the code, kids. Respect. (USA Today)
Play chess like a hockey player! (Chess.com)
Tom’s Daily: VGK Fans March 1; Fantastic Fleury
Tom’s Daily: Vegas Golden Knights will have fans again March 1; Fleury blanks Avs; Artemi Panarin takes leave of absence; Boudreau interested in Seattle Kraken; Skinner a healthy scratch; more.
The Vegas Golden Knights will be able to host fans starting March 1, but not at the originally requested 20% capacity. (VegasHockeyNow)
Vegas shuts out the Colorado Avalanche 3-0 in a dominant performance by Marc-Andre Fleury. (NHL.com)
Speaking of Fleury and his incredible performance (which we foresaw here) here’s a breakdown of his acrobatics from last night’s win. (VegasHockeyNow)
Artemi Panarin is taking a leave of absence from the New York Rangers in the wake of abuse allegations. Some speculation has the allegations tied to political payback in his native Russia. Whatever the situation, it’s going to be difficult for both player and team. (ESPN)
Have you noticed? The Florida Panthers are one of the best teams in the NHL right now, and Sasha Barkov is a big reason why. He just moved into second place on the team’s all-time scoring list and like so many things Florida Panthers this season, it happened under the radar. (FloridaHockeyNow)
After the San Jose Sharks were crushed by the Minnesota Wild, the guys at San Jose Hockey Now say that’s enough, let’s kickstart this rebuild now. (SJHN)
Jeff Skinner’s stock continues to plummet in Buffalo, and now the former 40-goal scorer is a healthy scratch after just one assist in 14 games this season. (NHL.com)
Bruce Boudreau has expressed his interest in being the first coach of the expansion Seattle Kraken. (Sportsnet)
David Ayers has definitely gotten his 15 minutes of fame after defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs last season as an emergency backup goaltender for the Carolina Hurricanes. Here’s a Q&A catching up with the hockey folk hero. (Sportsnet)