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.