Remember yesterday, and all those rumors about the Finnish media saying Jussi Rynnas was going to the KHL and people asking if the Dallas Stars are trading Kari Lehtonen? Well, you might as well forget 'em all, because Jim Nill had a talk with Mike Heika, and he turned the heat way, way down under all that fevered speculation.
While Jim Nill said he is not "shopping" Kari Lehtonen, the Stars general manager on Wednesday admitted that he is intensely studying the goaltending situation with his team.
"We have a lot of decisions to make, and we're in the process of trying to make them," Nill said.
Nill has had the professional scouts in Frisco this week studying many aspects of the organization. He chose his words carefully when asked about the goalies, and you get the impression he believes fixing Lehtonen is the best path, but that he really will study every option.
Nill also addressed the rumor that Rynnas will sign with the KHL team Ak Bars Kazan. Rynnas played just two games with the Dallas Stars last season with a 4.57 goals-against average and an .841 save percentage, but went 22-6-8 in Cedar Park with the Texas Stars, earning a 2.53 GAA and a .920 SV%.
Nill said Rynnas and his agent have asked for permission to look at other leagues, and that has been granted. Still, he said Rynnas would be interested in staying with the Stars if he was given a legitimate chance to play in the NHL next season. ...
Nill said they would consider letting him go because they want Rynnas to have the best chance to move his career forward.
He also acknowledged both the potential difficulty in moving Lehtonen's contract and the reasons why the team wouldn't even want to try it. Three years, $5.9 million per and a no-trade clause add up pretty quickly. So does the fact that Kari is fifth in wins over the the past five seasons (148 total), and his 2014-15 was an outlier by most metrics.
Perhaps most importantly, Nill says that Lehtonen is ready to do whatever it takes to return to form.
"What's impressed me is the fact Kari feels he didn't do a good enough job and he wants to do everything he can to fix it," Nill said. "So we have to look at how he prepares himself and how we support him, and how he can be better, and how we can help him be better."
There's plenty more, and it's an especially good read on an especially hot topic. Go see. [DMN]
ICYMI, the Stars are hosting an NHL draft watch party at the Omni Hotel Dallas. There will be giveaways. I'll get my keys.
The team is actually looking at positions other than goaltender, too. Heika lists five free-agent defenseman, from Cody Franson to Johnny Oduya, who might fit. [DMN]
Meanwhile, it's about to get ugly in the desert: The Glendale City Council has voted to nullify its Gila River Arena lease agreement with the Arizona Coyotes, a 15-year deal ratified in 2013.
The Coyotes were so not surprised by this news that they already had a statement ready on what co-owner, president and CEO Anthony LeBlanc has called "possibly the most shameful exhibition of government I have ever witnessed." [Arizona Coyotes]
At Five For Howling, Brendan Porter takes a look at the $200 million legal battle ahead for the city and the team's ownership group, Renaissance Sports & Entertainment. [Five For Howling]
Meanwhile, actual hockey was still being actually played, notably Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals. The Chicago Blackhawks evened up the series with a 2-1 victory on home ice. Hawks coach Joel Quenneville shuffled his lines to help seal the bounceback victory. It also helped that Brandon Saad kept doing what we may be increasingly justified in calling "Brandon Saad things":
Tampa Bay Lightning starter Ben Bishop sat last night, suffering a flare-up of the undisclosed injury that took him out early in Game 2. Tampa's 20-year-old rookie, Andrei Vasilevskiy, thus became one of the youngest players ever to start his first game in a Stanley Cup final. Dan Rosen says the Bolts' confidence was warranted despite the (narrow) loss. [NHL]
The last goalie younger than Vasilevskiy to appear in the Stanley Cup final was Patrick Roy. Fourth youngest goalie to start Cup game ever.— James Mirtle (@mirtle) June 11, 2015
Lightning coach Jon Cooper says Bishop will return before the end of the series, but "I just don't know which game." [NHL]
Elsewhere, the ECHL Kelly Cup finals are going to Game 7. The Allen Americans will get the final home-ice advantage as they host the South Carolina Stingrays for the deciding contest.
Start purchasing your tickets to see game 7 on Sunday! http://t.co/CvoH9S0Z6g— #RockYourRed (@AllenAmericans) June 11, 2015
Finally: Any goalie would look like a mighty machine in custom Voltron pads. BarDown has more, so I will leave you with this mouthwatering photo. [BarDown]