This just in: The NHL and MLB have issued a joint statement outlining the merger of the Arizona and Oakland franchises for the next three seasons in which the team will play in Sacramento before relocating to a permanent home.

The club will be called, “The Coyot-A’s.”

Now back to our main act …

The NHL’s anticipated move to Salt Lake City after 28 years of unrequited love in the desert does not mark the end of Gary’s Folly, for we have been told by several members of the industry’s intelligentsia that Arizona will move to the head of the expansion line as if the hypothetical new team can get its arena situation sorted out. That’s a novel concept.

Indeed, there is every chance that when the NHL is ready to dilute its product by adding another two teams and perhaps a sum of another $2 billion to divide among the existing 32 ownerships’ respective bank accounts, Arizona and Atlanta will be waiting to give the league a back-to-the-future vibe. Quebec and Cleveland will have to wait.

Arizona did not fail as an NHL market nearly as much as multiple ownerships failed the market. That is why Gary Bettman won’t put a white flag on his door when it comes to the league’s interest in this Southwest outpost. The land-grab move to Glendale out of downtown Phoenix in 2003 was as predictably a colossal failure as choosing to receive the opening kickoff in overtime of the Super Bowl. A next time would include a pre-existing structure in a community that makes sense (and deferring).

I don’t know that adding Salt Lake City to the Original 32 necessarily adds much cache to the league. But removing this ongoing embarrassment of an eyesore in the desert — that, by the way, had increasingly become a ratcheted-up flashpoint between Marty Walsh’s NHLPA and Ninth Avenue — represents addition by subtraction for the league. The NHL gets to abandon its minor league facility while allowing Rob Manfred’s MLB to move into one of its own in one of the great self-owns in pro sports history.

Coyot-A’s.


It was just too quiet on the Philadelphia front. Hockey had gotten good for the Flyers. Too good, apparently, for the liking of head coach John Tortorella, whose descent into full extreme mode created the air of conflict for which he lives even while his team was deconstructing.

Despite Tortorella’s better angels, he simply cannot leave well enough alone. The difference between a healthy dose of the coach and a fatal overdose is marked by a fine line. Tortorella was the individual most responsible for the startling regular-season success of the 2011-12 Black-and-Blueshirts. But the playoffs followed.

And by doubling down on himself and cutting the bench essentially from Game 1 of the first round, the coach was also the individual most singularly responsible for the Rangers running out of steam in their conference final upset by the Devils.

He giveth then he taketh away. When the water is calm, the coach creates ripples by throwing rocks. Sometimes, despite they’re the ones in his head.


If not dealing Semyon Varlamov the past two or three years may represent the best trade Lou Lamoriello did not make as Islanders GM, then keeping the veteran as backup on a new four-year deal that kicked in this year may also represent the GM’s most acute work on the market.

Seriously, who had Varlamov becoming at least co-equal with Ilya Sorokin in this playoff battle and who on earth is going to second-guess Patrick Roy for making that decision? Imagine if, say, in 2008-09, the Rangers split down the stretch between Henrik Lundqvist and Martin Biron?

Remember when one of Lamoriello’s first decisions upon moving to the Island from Toronto was to replace Robin Lehner with Varlamov?

One thing Lamoriello has always done well is goalies.


Would it not be at least a first step in creating an aura of responsibility and credibility if Kelly Sutherland — the referee who startingly did not make a call from a few feet away when Noah Dobson blatantly boarded Vincent Trocheck — would issue an apology through the NHL’s Department of Officiating overseen by Stephen “Standing Ovation” Walkom?

Apparently not, as the referee defended his call in the verbal exchange that ensued with Trocheck, who told Slap Shots that he thinks Sutherland does a good job and felt badly for unleashing a tirade at him.


The only known fact derived from Filip Chytil’s shocking appearance on the ice Friday is that three years into the job as president and GM of the Rangers, Chris Drury can keep a secret as well as Lamoriello ever could.


Finally, the moment I heard Devin Cooley tell E.J. Hradek, “A little bit of existential nihilism never hurt anybody,” Friday on NHL Network, is the moment the 26-year-old neophyte San Jose netminder secured my full-fledged endorsement for the Calder Trophy.

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