NHL schedule won't affect Penguins
By Rob Rossi
Friday, February 9, 2007
The National Hockey League's process of drafting a 2007-08 schedule will not mandate a quick resolution to the Penguins' uncertain future.
"While there are timing constraints posed by the scheduling process, we are not beyond any definitive 'cut-off date' for purposes of next season," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said Thursday.
The league also has not committed to a deadline for the Penguins to decide where they will play next season, Daly said. He added that the league is "capable of doing contingency scheduling" for the Penguins whether they play in Pittsburgh or another city.
Kansas City plans to open the new Sprint Center in October and has offered the Penguins free rent and partial revenue to relocate there. The Penguins toured that facility this past month.
The Penguins' lease at Mellon Arena expires in June. The team and public officials are involved in negotiations for a new Uptown arena that would secure the team's long-term future in Pittsburgh. Demolition of Uptown buildings to make way for a new arena could start next week, officials said yesterday. Work started in December to remove asbestos, windows and fixtures from buildings between Centre and Fifth avenues.
The NHL's schedule is usually released in mid-July, Daly said.
Colorado Avalanche vice-president of communications Jean Martineau said clubs receive a copy of a preliminary schedule for review "a few months" before the league officially unveils its final version.
Martineau's tenure with Colorado dates to the club's departure from Quebec City, Quebec, in 1995. He said the then-Quebec Nordiques were purchased May 24, 1995, by a group that ultimately relocated the club to Denver for the 1995-96 season.
The NHL Board of Governors did not approve the sale until June 1995, but the league's 1995-96 schedule was still released that July.
"It took just two months for everything to get done," Martineau said. "It was a smooth transition."
In their final season in Quebec, the Nordiques were an upstart team loaded with young stars such as Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg and Owen Nolan. They finished a shortened-NHL regular season atop the Eastern Conference.
Prior to the start of those playoffs, Quebec officials broke off talks with Nordiques ownership concerning a new building the team said it needed to stay in Quebec. The Nordiques' NHL swan song came in the form of an opening-round playoff loss to the New York Rangers in April 1995.
The Avalanche won the Stanley Cup during its first season in Colorado.
"A lot of people in Quebec would not believe that this would happen," Martineau said. "Until it really happened, people didn't believe it would. Then, the team moved and people were just shocked, stunned.
"The similarities with what is going on in Pittsburgh are there, for sure."