New buyer for XL Center the first step for the NHL in Hartford again?

Is their hope for the NHL in Hartford on the horizon? One of the biggest obstacles preventing a team playing in Connecticut’s capital is the lack of a state of the art arena, however that soon may no longer be a problem.

Formerly the Hartford Civic Center, the XL Center is now one of the oldest active arenas in the United States

The Hartford Courant has reported that Oak Street Real Estate Capital, a Chicago firm, will submit a proposal to purchase and renovate the city’s arena later this month. The XL Center, formerly the Hartford Civic Center, is one of the oldest facilities in the country and needs a major overhaul. Currently, the arena hosts concerts is home to UConn Basketball, UConn Ice Hockey, and the AHL’s Hartford WolfPack.

The offer to the city of Hartford did outline the plan to renovate the building and planned to put in over $250 Million with the intention of making it a state of the art facility. The state has proposed two options in recent years, one of which was a $250 Million dollar proposal to bring the current property up to a state of the art facility through renovation.The other, and more expensive option, was to completely tear down the existing structure and build a new arena which would have cost $500 Million.

Artist rendering of what the $250 Million renovation could look like

The outline of the deal would be $50 Million upfront from the group to the state, but the state would pay 7.5% of the renovation costs and would be subject to annual increases of two percent. This would mean at the minimum the state would invest roughly $19 Million for the reconstruction. Just to tear down the existing structure would cost $40 Million

The following is a statement from the Oak Street Group on their interest in acquiring the XL Center.

“Our interest in the XL Center stems from our larger goal of revitalizing the Hartford area. We believe that the transformation of the aging arena into a state-of-the art sports and entertainment venue can be the focal point of the city’s redevelopment and spur economic growth.”

Included in this statement, Oak Street it is ready to close on the acquisition of the building in the coming month and would send its proposal to the state for the upcoming request for proposals.

Could an upgraded arena bring back the NHL? Seattle gives Hartford a glimmer of hope.

If the XL Center is upgraded to a state of the art facility it could put the city of Hartford in the discussion for a potential NHL team. The good news for hockey fans in Hartford is there are two encouraging trends in the National Hockey League that could eventually help the city land a franchise.

The first is the league’s expansion plan. The league is already looking to add a 32nd franchise in Seattle and after a successful ticket drive, Seattle is inching closer to professional hockey. After the success of hockey in Las Vegas due to a new expansion draft that has given the Golden Knights the quality talent to earn a sweep in the first round the NHL playoffs. With the new expansion plan working it is possible that Hartford could land an expansion franchise rather than relocating an existing team.

Renderings of Key Arena in Seattle after it is upgraded into a state of the art facility to hold an NHL franchise

The second factor is that Seattle is setting a new arena precedent for attracting an NHL franchise. It was believed that the only way to attract an NHL franchise with a brand new arena. However, if Seattle is awarded an official franchise, it proves that a city can update a pre-existing arena to a modern standard rather than building a new arena. In Seattle, the plan is to extensively remodel Key Arena into a state of the art facility. If the NHL does put a team in Seattle for the 2020 season, it shows that they are willing to put a team in a state of the art facility even if it is not a brand new facility.

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Five NHL Teams Who Should Update Their Look

  • Anaheim Ducks:ThirdJerseySchedule Before they were the Ducks of Anaheim, a little company called Disney owned an NHL team known as the Mighty Ducks. While the team has desperately tried to change their image from the “Mighty” days, the problem is they never found a better logo then their previous incarnation. The webbed duck foot is  a decent shoulder logo, but not a stand alone on the chest. The team has really hit it off with their current third uniform which brings back the double hockey stick duck goalie mask logo with a great color combination. The orange, gold, and black could make for three great uniforms, but one thing they should all have in common is the old Mighty Ducks logo with the new color pallet. The logo is too good to waste, and is the team’s best option unless they can come up with a better design.
  • Pittsburgh Penguins:  marc-andre-fleury-nhl-ice-hockey-penguins_3260479The Penguins don’t have a logo problem, it’s a color problem. Their alternate jerseys are beautiful and should become the full-time uniform combo for a few reasons. One, it’s more vibrant and eye catching. Two, it pays tribute to the great Penguins’ teams of the early 90’s. Third, and most importantly it ties time with the rest of the city’s black and yellow color pallet. There’s nothing wrong with their current gold, it just doesn’t match the Steelers and Pirates. It’s time for all the Pittsburgh teams to be on the same page.
  • Carolina Hurricanes: 2008-sep-12-004The Hurricanes have always had a very generic look with a less then inspiring logo. I’m sorry but if your logo reminds people of swirling toilet water, you have room for improvement. The team should completely change their image and go with the alternate uniform logo and design. The design is different then other teams, but most importantly the alternate logo is a vast improvement. The hurricane storm flag whipping in the wind on a hockey stick is a perfect logo for the team’s namesake, while the background triangle representing the state’s research triangle, is a subtle touch that pays homage to their Carolinas.
  • Phoenix Coyotes: dm_150306_nhl_canucks_coyotes.jpg The Coyotes have always had an image problem, especially over the past few seasons. Since the team changed their brand, there has been a lot of confusion with uniforms featuring red, tan, and black with a generic looking howling coyote logo. This season the team brought back their 90’s throwbacks, which is a look they should go back to. The red, green, tan, and purple color pallet gave them a definitive look that none in the league could match, and the original coyote logo not only payed tribute to the native american tribes in the state, but was truly one of the most unique logos in NHL history. It’s time for the Coyotes to turn back the clock.
  • Colorado Avalanche: colorado-avalanche-112315-getty-ftrjpg_knx75yuvebmc14vxz7kufug4zThe Avalanche hit a home run with their new third uniform logo and design. The simpler design, and look perfectly sums up the team namesake and the city of Denver. While their current “A” logo is good, the main concern with the Avalanche brand is the uniforms. The current home and away set have so much going one with all the piping, design, colors, and odd number fonts. The current alternates a crisp, simple, and feature a great new logo. This is a look that the team should consider making a full-time change.

Stormy Relationship: NY Islanders Reportedly Want out of Brooklyn

St Louis Blues v New York Islanders

It wasn’t if, but when the New York Islanders realized their crucial mistake of moving to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Not even one full season in Brooklyn, it has been reported that both the Islanders and the Barclays Center are looking for a way out of the team’s 25 year lease with the building. To say that the move to Brooklyn has been to a disaster is a huge understatement.

The Islanders were enticed by the vixen that was the Barclays Center. A sparkling arena in Brooklyn that would make the decaying Nassau Coliseum a bad memory when older Islander fans would tell younger generations that the team used to play in a dump. Unfortunately, New York fell for the perfect partner before the first date. Had the team and Barclays Center actually really looked into their future relationship, their status wouldn’t currently read: it’s complicated.

It looked good on paper. A sparkling new arena not too far from Nassau Coliseum that had

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The Layout of the Barclay’s Center has created obstructed views, bad sight lines, and the smallest capacity in the NHL 

been established a new new center for entertainment in New York City. Then, the truth comes out. The arena has the worst sight lines in hockey with numerous obstructed views, and the smallest seating capacity in the NHL. The real kicker is that the Barclays Center limits the Islanders because under the agreement the arena collects revenue from ticket sales, advertising, and promotions. That limits the amount of money the team can make in the building and could stunt the franchises growth because of the lack of income.

The Barclays Center has also been hampered by the Islanders becoming a permanent tenant. Since they have to book the Islanders home games, the arena is limited in the concerts that can come to Brooklyn. Given the the primary purpose for the arena’s construction was for concerts and basketball, the Islanders are hurting the prospective revenue that could be made off of concerts.

It’s been a disaster from day one. The way Islander fans were ignored by the monopolized home of the Nets, the small capacity, axing of long standing traditions, horrible sight lines, exorbitantly high ticket prices, and a move

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The new Islanders ownership is now stuck between a rock and a hard place.

that should have been a temporary solution at best, rather then a permanent home. Despite owning one of the best home records in the NHL, the attendance for the Islanders is  28th in the league. While part of that can be partially attributed to the smaller arena, the arena’s location, and ticket prices are what have impacted this standing the most.

So what now? There’s no promising solution for the Islanders on the horizon. While Nassau Coliseum is being renovated, the capacity will be 13,000, well below the the NHL minimum. There could be a renegotiation between both sides to work out a new lease, but this would be more of a patch then a long-term solution.

New owner Jonathan Ledecky has wanted to move the team to Queens in the past, but that would be an expensive proposition considering the Barclays Center cost a Billion dollars to build and the new Islanders arena would directly have to compete with it.

Either way both party’s have a terrible situation with no great exit strategy. In a perfect world the Islanders could build a new arena and leave, but given the current financial standing of the club, and the cost of building an arena in the New York area make that an almost impossible scenario. As long as the Islanders are in Brooklyn, an arena that’s too small and isn’t built for NHL hockey, it’s going to be a trying relationship at the Barclays Center.

We will keep you posted as this story continues to develop.

The Camundrum: Should Talbot Start Over the King?

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Talbot has been sensational since taking over the starting role

When Henrik Lundqvist went down earlier this year with a neck injury many Ranger fans felt that the injury would derail the team’s season. While Lundqvist is expected to return next week to the lineup, it may not be an easy return for the King.

Many expected that New York’s season would take a dive after losing their star player. Instead they have thrived behind their young goaltender Cam Talbot who has made it very interesting for the Rangers moving forward.

Talbot has been spectacular in the goal helping propel the Rangers into first place in the Metropolitan Division with a 17-6-4 record, 2.19 GAA, and .926 save percentage. Currently, Talbot’s statistics, including winning percentage are higher than Lundqvist’s totals this season.

There is no question that Lundqvist is still one of if not the best goaltenders in the NHL. However, after suffering a severe injury like the one Lundqvist is a hard one to overcome quickly. When he is on, there is no question that Lundqvist is the team’s starter. Still, he needs to prove that he is 100% healthy before New York relies on him to carry the team throughout the playoffs.

If Lundqvist struggles should the Rangers stick with the King or ride the hot hand in Talbot ?

If Lundqvist struggles should the Rangers stick with the King or ride the hot hand in Talbot ?

However, if Lundqvist struggles in his return before the playoffs it might be better for this team to do the unthinkable, bench the King. In the NHL Playoffs it’s the team with the better goaltender or hotter goaltender at the time that makes a run. Given how well Talbot has played this season and if Lundqvist is not at 100%, it makes sense to start the player who gives the team the best chance to win.

Even though the Rangers will probably start Lundqvist no matter how he plays in his return, the organization should keep a short leash on him in the playoffs. If he does not play well in a series, the Rangers should not be afraid to pull their star goaltender and play the hot hand.

The Rangers have the potential to not only make it back to the Stanley Cup Finals, but to win their first championship since 1994. However, they will need strong goaltending to get there and will need to figure out who gives them the best chance to win. The King or Cam Talbot?

Going For Broke: Rangers All In on 2015

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Yandle will provide not only a strong defensive presence, but also thrive in the Rangers’ philosophy on offensive minded defensemen.

The New York Rangers have made it clear, this is the year they are taking their best shot. With not one, but two trades on Sunday, the Rangers traded long-term stability for the pieces that the organization feels can bring the Stanley Cup back to New York since 1994.

After the dust settled, the blue shirts had acquired defensemen Keith Yandle, and Chris Summers from Arizona and San Jose forward James Sheppard. However, the Rangers did pay a hefty price sending John Moore and top prospect Anthony

1b86a97f68d1dd0c4f0f6a706700a4d4_c0-331-4794-3125_s326x190Duclair to Arizona along with a first round pick in 2015 and second round pick in 2016. After trading Lee Stempniak to Winnipeg, New York finished the day by adding James Sheppard from San Jose. In order to acquire his services, the Rangers traded a fourth round pick in 2016 to the Sharks.

The message is clear, the Rangers are going for it. Yandle is the big prize as he led the atrocious Coyotes team with 41 points and will be a valuable sniper on the power play, an area where New york was abysmal in the playoffs last year. Summers will not provide the same fire power, but is a solid defender who will provide great depth at defense while Sheppard provides a solid winger from either the third or fourth line.

By improving their defense the blue shirts will be looking to take pressure off of Henrik Lundqvist who bolt only carried the team to the Stanley Cup last year, but with Lundqvist still recovering from a neck injury, New York has decided to shore up the defensive unit in front of him while providing some more firepower on offense. If Lundqvist is still not 100% when the playoffs begin, then a stronger defense will take the pressure off of the King . The worst case scenario is that the defense will be stronger in front of Cam Talbot who for now will remain the starter in-goal.

While the Rangers may have mortgaged heir future over the next two seasons, it is clear that they have the confidence that the team has the chance to win a Stanley Cup and are going for it in 2015.