With Seattle becoming the NHL’s 32nd team, you might think the Vancouver Canucks wouldn’t be thrilled to have a team right on their doorstep. However, that’s not the case. In fact, Vancouver ownership and fans are thrilled to bring a natural rival for their team and hope that it will continue to spark interest not only in Seattle, but bring in more fans in Vancouver as well, according to the Associated Press.
”Vancouver is already a partner. They were the most enthusiastic team in the league about this. They love the idea of this rivalry,” Seattle team President Tod Leiweke said. ”I think for the two cities to connect like this, the two cities are 130 miles away but now they’re going to connect in a whole different way and I think that’s one of the great things that is going to come out of all this is a deep, deep visceral connection between Vancouver and Seattle and we’re going to play some great games.”
Both franchises hope that the rivalry will increase marketing, interest in the game and the hope that each franchise’s fanbase will travel back and forth between cities when they face off against each other. While there would normally be reason to worry that each franchise might take away from each other in terms of fans, there is no concern of that here as it is believed the U.S.-Canadien border is likely the perfect barrier for fans on which side they want to follow.
- Sticking with Vancouver, Canucks head coach Travis Green said that forward Sven Baertschi is progressing nicely and might be ready to practice with the team when in Vancouver on Monday and Tuesday. Baertschi has been out since Oct. 24 with a concussion. Baertschi has only appeared in 10 games for Vancouver this season and has three goals and three assists.
- While only a rumor, Sportsnet reports that Nick Kypreos reported on Hockey Night in Canada tonight that the St. Louis Blues are considering moving defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and the Toronto Maple Leafs could be the prime target, suggesting that the Maple Leafs are offering Nikita Zaitsev, picks and prospects as part of a package. While that would be a huge win for the Toronto Maple Leafs, expect much of the league to weigh in on Pietrangelo if St. Louis truly intends to trade him. Pietrangelo, who is currently on LTIR, could become a unrestricted free agent after the 2019-20 season.
- The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz (subscription required) writes that one of the biggest problems with the San Jose Sharks is the regression of veteran defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who is starting the first year of an eight-year, $56MM contract, pointing out that the 31-year-old Vlasic is playing like a third-line defenseman this season and his minus-14 plus/minus ratio is quite accurate as he has struggled mightily.
- Fox Sports Jon Rosen reports that Gabriel Vilardi is not in the lineup for the Ontario Reign of the AHL due to an injury and is expected to be evaluated on Monday by Los Angeles Kings doctors. The 19-year-old forward has been on a long-term conditioning assignment in Ontario, having posted one assist in four games there so far. He has missed significant time in each of the last two seasons due to back injury.