Vegas Golden Knights off to quick start as NHL's newest team

Several NHL teams have gotten off to quick starts in the 2017/18 NHL season, but the most surprising of all is the Las Vegas Golden Knights. This is the club's inaugural campaign and the roster was filled earlier this year via an expansion draft. The squad basically contains numerous unknown young players with goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and forward James Neal being the only ones who could be considered NHL stars. However, the Golden Knights have jumped right out of the gate with a 4-1 record after their first five games.

But as luck would have it, they'll now be severely tested as Fleury has been placed on the team's injured list with a concussion along with forward Jonathan Marchessault and it's unclear how long the pair will be out of the lineup. This meant 23-year-old rookie Malcolm Subban faced the Boston Bruins at home in the Knights' fifth game of the season on October 15tyh and promptly beat his old team 3-1. Subban had been placed on waivers by the Bruins just a week earlier and Vegas snatched him up.

With Subban joining the Golden Knights, Vegas then traded goaltender Calvin Pickard to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Swedish forward Tobias Lindberg and a sixth-round draft pick in 2018. The quick start saw the golden Knights sitting in second place in the Pacific Division on October 16th, just one point behind the Los Angeles Kings. Vegas's only loss of the season was a 6-3 setback at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings on October 13th with their wins coming against the Dallas Stars (2-1), the Arizona Coyotes (2-1 and 5-2) and the 3-1 triumph over the Bruins.

The 30-year-old Neal has definitely been the offensive spark plug for the Golden Knights with six of the team's goals in his first five games, including three game winners. Nate Schmidt, Brendan Leipsic, David Perron and Luca Sbisa had also been helping out with three points each. It's doubtful that the new Las Vegas team will be able to keep up its hot pace though, especially if Fleury is out of action for an extended period of time. Subban's win over the Bruins was just his third NHL start and Maxime Legace has been called up from Chicago of the American Hockey League to help out in net.

Vegas fans are definitely enjoying things at the moment though as their team is off to the best start in NHL history for an expansion franchise. The team uses an aggressive forechecking approach and so far it's paid off as they've been taking their opponents by surprise with their speed, hard work and scoring prowess. After the sickening shooting attack in Las Vegas recently, the club is certainly the feel-good story of the young NHL season and is gaining new fans by the day. And deservedly so. 

Red-hot Alexander Ovechkin determined to win another Rocket Richard Trophy

Russian sniper Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals has already won the Rocket Richard Trophy six times for leading the NHL in scoring and he looks determined to capture his seventh in 2017/18. The 32-year-old, who was drafted first overall by the Capitals back in 2007, has gotten off to one of the quickest starts in NHL history with seven goals in his first two games. In fact he had seven of his team's first 11 goals on the year. Ovechkin had hat tricks in his first two outings to tie a 100-year-old NHL record set by Reg Noble, Cy Denneny and Joe Malone back in 1917.

The winger opened the campaign in Ottawa with three goals in a 5-4 shootout triumph over the Senators and then added four more in a 6-1 home win against the Montreal Canadiens in their second outing two nights later. This is an excellent start to somebody who “slumped” to 33 goals last season. What makes Ovechkin's feat so special is the fact that he scored hat tricks in two straight periods. As he netted three goals in the final frame against Ottawa and banged in three more in the first stanza against Montreal. Ovechkin has now scored a hat trick in one period on four occasions in his illustrious career.

Ovechkin has now racked up 19 hat tricks in his career so far, which ties a Washington record set by Peter Bondra. The seven-goal outburst also gave him 565 career regular-season goals which saw him leapfrog over Mats Sundin, Guy Lafluer  Mike Modano and Joe Nieuwendyk into 22nd place on the NHL's all-time goal scoring list. Ovechkin's Russian linemate Evgeny Kuznetsov has certainly benefited from his winger's scoring binge as he's assisted on all of his first seven goals. Ovechkin reached the seven-goal mark after 11 games last season. He scored his first six this season in a span of just 12 minutes and 13 seconds of ice time.

It looks like this could be a high-scoring campaign for the entire league as there have been goals galore during the first week of 2017/18. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Chicago Blackhawks each had 15 goals after their first two games while Washington had 11 and St. Louis., Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh each had nine under their belts. However, things have been leaky in the Pittsburgh end of the ice as the defending Stanley Cup champions gave up 15 goals in their first three outings. This included a humiliating 10-1 demolition at the hands of Chicago. 

Ovechkin and Kuznetsov each had seven points in their first two games to lead the league while Patrick Kane and Ryan Hartman of the Blackhawks were right behind them with six each. In another unique feat, forward Nathan Walker of the Capitals became the first Australian to play and score in NHL history as the rookie netted a goal in Washington's 6-1 win over Montreal in his first outing. The 23-year-old Walker was born in Cardiff, Wales, but moved to Australia when he was just two years old.

NHL teams make last-second roster moves as 2017/18 season gets underway

Several NHL teams made some last-second roster moves just before the NHL season faced off on October 4th. Here's an update on the biggest transactions. The Columbus Blue Jackets and 23-year-old restricted free-agent forward Josh Anderson finally came to an agreement on a new contract on October 2nd. Anderson signed his name to a new three-year deal which is reportedly worth a total of $5.5 million. Anderson said he didn't want to miss any game action at the start of the season as he wants to continue to develop as a player. The 6-foot-3-inch, 221 lb Anderson played 78 games last season and racked up 29 points on 17 goals and 12 assists by basically playing as a bottom-six forward.

The Pittsburgh Penguins decided to give up on defenceman Derrick Pouliot as they shipped him off to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for fellow blueliner Andrey Pedan and a fourth-round draft pick. Pouliot was taken in the 2012 draft by Pittsburgh with the eighth-overall pick, but never fulfilled his potential to be a top-four defenceman during his three-year stint with the Penguins. The trade was a bit of a surprise considering Pouliot inked a new one-year deal with Pittsburgh in the offseason. The 23-year-old has played in just 67 regular-season games with two goals and 12 assists to his name. However, he has 20 goals and 70 points in 114 AHL contests. The 24-year-old, 6-foot-5-inch Pedan has appeared in 13 NHL games with no points, but has 29 points in 84 AHL outings.

The NHL waiver wires were active as the Colorado Avalanche claimed Swedish defenceman Patrik Nemeth from the Dallas Stars and the Vegas Golden Knight took goaltender Malcolm Subban from the Boston Bruins. The 25-year-old Nemeth was taken 41st overall in the 2010 draft by Dallas and has 14 assists in 108 regular-season NHL contests. The 23-year-old Subban was chosen 24th in the 2012 draft by Boston He's 0-2 in the NHL with a goals-against average of 5.81 in 62 minutes of play along with a save percentage of 72.7. Subban has also played in 127 AHL games with a GAA of 2.40 and a 91.8 save percentage with a record of 56-45-14. He's also gone 3-5 in 11 playoff games with a 2.21 GAA and 91.9 save percentage

Several veteran players who attended training camp on professional tryout contracts hit the jackpot as they earned a spot on the roster. These include forwards Scottie Upshall of the St. Louis Blues, Jimmy Hayes, of the New Jersey Devils, David Booth of the Detroit Red Wings and Tanner Glass of the Calgary Flames. It also appears defenceman Cody Franson has also made the Chicago Blackhawks and forward Alex Chiasson will stick around with the Washington Capitals. However, other players who were on tryouts weren't as lucky, such as Teddy Purcell (Boston), Cody Goloubef (Buffalo), P. A. Parenteau (Detroit), Brandon Pirri (Florida), Brooks Laich (Los Angeles), Ryan Malone (Minnesota), Eric Gelinas (Montreal), Jay McClement (Pittsburgh) and Roman Polak (Toronto).

Both Marian Hossa of the Chicago Blackhawks and Joffrey Lupul of the Toronto Maple Leafs have been place on their club's long-term injured reserve list after being checked out by independent doctors. The forwards were given second physicals after Lupul claimed through social media that he was healthy enough to play and the Leafs were abusing the system. Hossa will miss the 2017/18 campaign due to a severe skin condition and his $5.25-million salary won't go against the cap. As for Lupul, he has now failed his physical for the second straight season and his $5.25-million salary also won't go against the Leafs' cap.

In addition, there was also a big-name signing as 20-year-old forward Jack Eichel signed an eight-year contract extension with Buffalo worth $10 million a year. Eichel has scored 48 goals and 65 assists for 113 points for the Sabres in 142 games. He was drafted second-overall in the 2015 draft by Buffalo, with Edmonton superstar Connor McDavid going first. McDavid recently signed his own eight-year deal, which was worth $100 million. 

NHL gets its foot in the door in China

With China hosting the Winter Olympics in Beijing in 2022, the NHL figured the time was right to introduce the world's most populous nation to the world's best hockey league. The Vancouver Canucks and Los Angeles Kings faced off against each other twice in the last week as they met on Sept. 21st in Shanghai and then again two days later in Beijing. Both games were beamed back to North America and to millions across the host country. The two-game series was part of the NHL's long-term strategy to reach a new audience in the land which is home to over 1.3 billion people.

China welcomed the games, clinics and marketing events that came as part of the package as the country is committed to expanding ice hockey within its borders along with other types of winter sports before hosing the Olympics. In fact, the government invited the NHL to visit and help promote the sport. Hockey is being developed at the grassroots level across China as more and more children and adults are becoming enamoured with the sport. There were numerous promotional activities and programs throughout the country when the two NHL teams arrived, such as a 21-year-old local goaltender practising on the ice with the Canucks.

The players also enjoyed the trip as it introduced them to a different culture, allowed them to visit historic sites, meet and greet the local fans, and show off their skills to a whole new audience. The last time the NHL visited Asia was when games were held in Japan in 2000. It was the third visit to the land of the Rising Sun as the league also visited in 1997 and 1998. According to the International Ice Hockey Federation, there are just over 1,000 registered players in China and 154 indoor rinks throughout the nation. However, it's believed there are thousands of youngsters involved in the sport unofficially.

With the NHL making the trip it would be assumed that the league will be taking part in the 2022 Olympics, but that remains to be seen. The league has decided to skip the 2018 Games next year in South Korea, but Beijing remains a strong possibility. It also plans more visits to China in the future. As for the two preseason games themselves, The Kings downed the Canucks 5-2 in the first contest in Shanghai with a crowd of 10,088 on hand. Los Angeles also won the second game 4-3 in a shootout in Beijing just less than 48 hours later in front of 12,759 fans.

The two-game series and entire event introduced thousands of new fans to hockey in general and should be considered a success. The future certainly looks bright for the sport in China. Most youngsters appeared to naturally gravitate to it when holding a stick in their hands and trying out their shots and moves on the recently-built ball hockey rinks for the fan-fest events. The NHL Players' Association and the league will now evaluate the trip and decide how to further promote the sport and the league. But it's a good bet that future NHL preseason games will be taking place in China on a regular basis now the groundwork has been laid.

Ottawa's Clarke MacArthur Fails NHL Medical, Five Months After Comeback

Ottawa Senators' forward Clarke MacArthur has failed his NHL medical at training camp, just five months after making a long-awaited comeback. The 32-year-old's career is in limbo once again due to his history of concussions. The winger came back late last season and helped Ottawa reach the
Eastern Conference Final in the playoffs. The failed medical means he won't be able to participate in training camp and will be on the outside looking in yet again.

MacArthur, who was drafted 74th overall by Buffalo in 2003, has had injury problems since the 2014/15 campaign when his season was cut short due to a concussion. However, he appeared to be healthy when the 2015/16 season faced off and was back in the Ottawa lineup. Unfortunately, he didn't last long as he was back on the shelf after playing just four games due to suffering more concussions. MacArthur missed 156 games over the last two seasons before returning in April and appearing in four games before the playoffs got underway.

He played well in the postseason with three goals and six assists in 19 games and going plus-5.
Those numbers gave MacArthur a boost of confidence and he was looking forward to continuing his strong play in 2017/18. To make matters worse though, one of his came during last year's training camp when he was checked hard into the boards by teammate Patrick Sieloff. By the time the playoff races heated up late in January it looked like MacArthur wouldn't play at all in 2016/17 when general manager Pierre Dorion told the press he was out for the season.

MacArthur didn't give up though and was back on the ice with his teammates in March when he started practising with the squad. He made it all the way back on April 4th when he was in the lineup against Detroit and received about 10 minutes of ice time. He played out the season and then inspired his teammates during their playoff run. However, it's obvious something went wrong during the summer months and that has led to his failed medical, after doctors had cleared him to play earlier this year.

There's a possibility MacArthur may now be forced to retire because of his health issues and he admitted that it's something he had to think about last year. He said he headed down to Florida to relax, but soon found himself in the gym as he decided on trying a comeback instead. The player is currently signed to a five-year contract which is worth $23.25. If he can't play, MacArthur will be placed on Ottawa's long-term injury list and his salary will come off of the cap.

Known as a solid two-way player, MacArthur would be missed by the Senators and their fans, but they've basically gotten by without him for the past two seasons. Unfortunately, they've become used to playing with their teammate watching from the stands. If MacArthur does decide to hang up his skates he will have played in 552 games starting in the 2006/07 season. He played with Buffalo, Atlanta, Toronto and Ottawa and racked up 133 goals and 171 assists for 304 points with 343 minutes in penalties. He also added seven goals and seven assists in 30 playoff contests with Toronto and Ottawa.

NHL Introduces Minor Penalties for Failed Offside Challenges

The NHL introduced coaches' challenges for offsides a couple of years ago and this campaign the league will be introducing minor penalties for a failed challenge. The main reason for this is the lengthy delay that many challenges result in when video replays are checked over and over again. This is because some offsides are simply too close to call even with the help of modern technology. With players' feet often being in the air when they're crossing the blue line, it's almost impossible to tell if they were onside or offside by a skate lace.

The league and Players' Association got together in June to discus potential rule changes for the upcoming 2017/18 season and one of the hottest debates involved the offside challenge. It was proposed that a team which challenges an offside call and then loses that challenge, will be assessed a two-minute minor penalty. The thinking is that coaches will only make a challenge on a blatant missed call or if they're certain of winning the challenge. This allows the NHL to leave the offside rule as it is without having to alter it or do away with it completely.

According to league statistics, there were 131 challenges to offside calls by NHL coaches in the 2016/17 season. That was an increase of 32 per cent over the 2015/16 campaign, which was the first year the challenge was introduced. But the NHL found coaches were often challenging calls just for the sake of it if they had one remaining late in in a game and were scored against. With these offside calls being decided by a fraction of an inch, it took far too long for game officials to come to a conclusive decision. They were also using small I-Pad type screens to watch the replays on at ice level.

The offside challenge was brought in to help rectify obvious missed calls by the linesmen, but since this so rarely happens, the spirit of the rule has been abused. Blatant missed calls can be reviewed and reversed in a matter of seconds via instant replay, but when a player was possibly offside by a toenail it was becoming increasingly difficult to spot. With a two-minute penalty at stake, the NHL is hoping the number of challenges will dramatically decrease this season and fans won't have to sit through lengthy delays. In addition, a team doesn't need to have its timeout remaining to challenge an offside call this year.

Other than the penalty for failed offside challenges, the NHL has yet to announce any other major rule changes for the 2017/18 campaign.

Shane Doan hangs up the skates after 21 years in the NHL`

Forward Shane Doan of the Arizona Coyotes has decided to hang up the skates on his NHL career after more than two decades in the world’s best hockey league. The 40-year-old may not be completely done with hockey though. There’s always a chance the former Arizona captain could suit up for Canada at the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. Doan, who hails from Halkirk, Alberta, was one of the few players to spend an entire 20-plus year career with just one franchise. He was drafted seventh overall by the original Winnipeg Jets club back in 1995 and remained with the team when it relocated to Phoenix just a year later.

Doan was an unrestricted free agent this summer and was told by the Coyotes that they wouldn’t be re-signing him. However, it may have surprised some fans that another team didn’t take a chance on the veteran right-winger, especially considering his excellent leadership qualities. Doan actually announced his retirement via a notice in the Arizona Republic newspaper and claimed it was a very difficult decision to come to. He completed his final NHL season earlier this year with six goals and 27 assists for 33 points in 74 games in his 13th campaign as the team’s captain.

In total, Doan appeared in 1,540 regular-season NHL games and racked up 402 goals and 570 assists for 972 points and served 1,353 penalty minutes. Those numbers make him the all-time franchise leader in points, games played, goals, assists, game-winners and power-play goals. He played in just 55 playoff contests though as he was often a member of relatively-weak squads and chipped in with 15 goal and 13 assists for 28 points and spent 85 minutes in the penalty box.

Only eight other NHL players have managed to suit up for 21 years with the same club with just three of them playing more games than Doan. These were Alex Delvecchio, Nicklas Lidstrom and Gordie Howe, who were all former Detroit Red Wings. Doan’s 1,540 games splayed currently ranks him 14th all-time in league history. The Coyotes thanked their former captain for everything he did off the ice and achieved on it for the franchise by releasing a media statement shortly after he retired.

Doan was never a high-scoring superstar, but was a consistent scorer and playmaker who always stood up for his teammates. He reached the 20-goal mark 13 times and broke the 50-point barrier on 11 occasions. Doan also represented the Coyotes in two All-Star Games and he was awarded the King Clancy Memorial Trophy for the 2009/10 campaign, which goes to the player who shows the best leadership qualities both on and off the ice and who has also contributed significantly to humanitarian causes in his community. He also won the Mark Messier Leadership Award for 2011/12.

Doan admitted that he wasn’t the most skilled player on his team, let alone the league, and thanked the fans for sticking by him through the Coyotes’ ups and downs. He said he greatly appreciates and loved and respect he received in Arizona and will certainly miss his teammates, club employees, friends, the fans and the community in general. Ironically, the only player from the 1995 draft to score more points than Doan is Jarome Iginla, and the free agent forward may also wind up on the 2018 Olympic squad with Doan.

Hobey Baker winner Will Butcher chooses to join the New Jersey Devils

Last season’s Hobey Baker Award winner Will Butcher announced on August 27th that he has decided to join the New Jersey Devils. The 22-year-old defenceman from Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, was named the top player in college hockey for the 2016/17 campaign where he played for the University of Denver. Butcher and the Devils agreed on a two-year entry level contract which is worth $1.85 million. It was also reported that he could earn as much as $850,000 a year in bonuses if he reaches certain performance-based milestones.

There were numerous teams interested in Butcher after he turned down a contract offer from the Colorado Avalanche on August 15th. The Avalanche originally drafted him in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft’s fifth round with the 123rd pick, but the player and club couldn’t agree to terms on a deal. Butcher then became an unrestricted free agent in mid-August. Since he’s on an entry-level contract, Butcher will be making the maximum salary allowed for the next two seasons at $925,000 a season and the $850,000 yearly bonuses are also the maximum allowed for current rookie contracts.

Therefore, Butcher would have received the same pay no matter which club he signed for, but he felt the Devils were the best fit for his situation and style of play. He was also giving serious consideration to signing with the Vegas Knights or the Buffalo Sabres. Devils’ general manager Ray Shero was thrilled to land the promising young defenceman as his team is hoping to make the playoffs in the upcoming 2017/18 season. Butcher is just the seventh defenceman to capture the Hobey Baker Award and he helped his college team win the national title earlier this year.

The Devils fortunes seem to have turned around since missing the postseason last year as the club also won the draft lottery this year and chose centre Nico Hischier of Switzerland with the first-overall pick. Shero then picked up 26-year old skilful forward Marcus Johansson from the Washington Capitals just a few weeks later. The left-handed shooting Butcher is expected to step in immediately and help the Devils in their youthful rebuild. He finished last season with seven goals and 30 assists for 37 points in 43 games and finished his career at the University of Denver with 103 points on 28 goals and 75 assists in 158 contests.

Butcher is now the second consecutive Hobey Baker Award winner who chose to become a free agent after wrapping up his career in the college ranks. Forward Jimmy Vesey, who was originally drafted by Nashville, decided to turn down their contract offer last year and the club traded his rights to the Buffalo Sabres. However, the Sabres and Vesey also failed to come to terms and the former Harvard players shopped his services around before deciding to sign with the New York Rangers. Vesey then went on to a decent rookie season by scoring 16 goals and 11 assists for the Rangers in 80 games.

NHL confirms Olympic Hockey contract situation

The NHL announced a few months ago that the league wouldn’t be shutting down this season to allow its players to take part in the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. Commissioner Gary Bettman recently confirmed which pro players will be eligible to participate. Current and former NHL players who will be playing in Europe this season will be able to play. In addition, players on one-way American Hockey League contracts can participate. However, those who are playing in the AHL on two-way contracts aren’t eligible to play. Basically, anybody with an NHL contract in 2017/18 isn’t allowed to partake in the Olympic action.

This means the Canadian and U.S. Olympic hockey teams will be weakened drastically for the 2018 tournament compared to every event since 1994, which saw NHL players participate in them. European leagues will be letting their players make the trip to South Korea and this is why several NHL free agents such as Andrei Markov of the Montreal Canadiens decided to sign with KHL teams during the offseason. In addition, the KHL already has an abundance of excellent players to choose from for the games next February, including former NHL stars Pavel Datsyuk and Ilya Kovalchuk.   

Canada’s chances of winning a third-straight gold medal look slim, but the nation’s hockey association has already named Willie Desjardins and the team’s head coach with Sean Burke as general manager and Martin Brodeur as an assistant GM, a position he also holds with the St. Louis Blues Meanwhile, the U.S. has announced Tony Granato as its bench boss. Both countries will likely be filling their 25-man rosters with pro players who are based in Europe before adding a few AHL players to the mix. Some possible members of the Canadian team include former NHL’ers Ben Scrivens, Kevin Klein, Derek Roy, Mason Raymond and Max Talbot.

The U.S. may take Keith Aucoin, Nathan Gerbe and goaltenders Jean-Philippe Lamoureux and David Leggio as well as college and junior players. However, any AHL players that are selected to play for their countries are only allowed to leave their domestic clubs for the Olympics and not any of the numerous pre-tournament events including the annual Spengler Cup at the end of December in Switzerland. The U.S. is forgoing most of these pre-Olympic tournaments though and is planning on playing just one, which will be the Deutschland Cup in November.

While Bettman and the NHL owners have put their foot down regarding the 2018 Olympics, it still remains to be seen if certain players decide to go anyway. For example, star Russian winger Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals has told the press on many occasions that he plans on playing in South Korea regardless of the NHL’s decision to bypass the event. It’s possible that players such as Ovechkin try to work out a deal with their NHL clubs, but if they do travel to South Korea, it’s unclear if Bettman has the power to throw the book at them via suspensions and/or fines.

Houston pushing for NHL franchise

Quebec City, Seattle and Portland are usually the three cities mentioned when it comes to further NHL expansion. However, Houston should probably be added to that short list. Houston is one of America’s fastest-growing communities and already has a huge fan base for sports with the Houston Astros of Major League Baseball, the Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer and the NBA’s Houston Rockets. There would also be a natural NHL rivalry with fellow Texans, the Dallas Stars  

Of course, Houston was home to the Aeros of the old World Hockey Association (WHA) from 1972 to 1978 with some of the sport’s most famous players suiting up such as Gordie Howe and his sons Mark and Marty. The Aeros were one of the most successful clubs in the WHA, but weren’t admitted to the NHL when the two leagues merged in 1978.  The Houston Aeros were resurrected between 1994 and 2013 though and operated in the International Hockey League until 2001. They then joined the American Hockey League until relocating to Des Moines in 2013 and becoming the Iowa Wild, a farm team of the NHL’s Minnesota Wild.

But with the Houston Rockets’ owner Leslie Alexander hoping to sell the NBA franchise, there’s a chance the city could eventually be awarded an NHL team. Alexander attempted to relocate the Edmonton Oilers down to Houston in the 1990s, but was rebuffed by the NHL as it wanted the franchise to stay in Edmonton if it was sold. Alexander approached the NHL once again with a huge offer for the Oilers and promised to keep the club in Edmonton for three years. He then wanted the league to promise him a franchise for Houston in the future. The Oilers solved their financial problems with local support though and remained in Alberta.

While the Houston Aeros played in the city before the new Toyota Center was built, the hockey team shared facilities at the Summit with Alexander’s basketball team the Rockets. At the time, the Aeros were owned by Chuck Watson and his hockey team was given the best options for home games before the Rockets. Alexander wasn’t too happy about this and he attempted to relocate to a new arena, but Watson wouldn’t allow him to break his lease contract at the Summit.

Once the lease ended, the Toyota Center was built and opened in 2003 with the billionaire Alexander as a controlling owner. The Aeros eventually moved in, but Alexander raised the rent for the hockey team in 2013 and when they failed to reach an agreement the hockey team moved to Des Moines. Alexander also had a clause written into the Toyota Center lease which stated that an NHL franchise couldn’t play in the arena unless it was owned by him. Therefore, Alexander would either have to be the owner of an NHL franchise in Houston or give it permission to play at the Toyota Center.

The NHL wasn’t pleased with the clause in the contract and it forgot all about Houston as an expansion city. However, the 72-year-old Alexander is reportedly tired of all the head games and now apparently wants to sell the Rockets. He paid $85 million for the basketball club in 1993 and it’s now valued at $1.65 billion. If Alexander decides to relax his control of the Toyota Center the NHL would consider putting a franchise in Houston as it’s America’s fifth-largest metropolitan area. However, unless Alexander has mellowed, it seems as the final word on allowing an NHL team into the Toyota Center still rests with him.