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Canadiens Notebook: Habs franchise now valued at US$1.3 billion by Forbes

Canadiens rank third on annual list published by Forbes, trailing New York Rangers ($1.5 billion) and Toronto Maple Leafs ($1.45 bllion).


Canadiens centre Jesperi Kotkaniemi congratulates goalie Carey Price after beating the Washington Capitals 6-4 during NHL game at the Bell Centre in Montreal on Nov. 1, 2018.


Dave Sidaway / Montreal Gazette

Forbes came out Wednesday with its annual list of valuations for NHL franchises and for the third straight year the New York Rangers are deemed the most valuable franchise, worth US$1.5 billion.

The Toronto Maple Leafs were ranked second at US$1.45 billion, followed by the Canadiens ($1.3 billion), the Chicago Blackhawks ($1.05 billion) and the Boston Bruins ($925 million) with Original Six franchises taking the top five spots. Rounding out the top 10 were the Los Angeles Kings ($810 million), the Philadelphia Flyers ($800 million), the Detroit Red Wings (the sixth Original Six team at $775 million), the Vancouver Canucks ($735 million) and the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals ($725 million).

Forbes reports that NHL team values went up 15 per cent over last year to an average of $594 million. The Arizona Coyotes are at the bottom of the list of 31 NHL teams with a value of $290 million.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced Tuesday that Seattle will join the league as an expansion team for the 2021-22 season with the new ownership group paying US$650 million for the franchise. That’s $150 million more than the Vegas Golden Knights owners paid to enter the league last season.

When a group led by Geoff Molson purchased the Canadiens from George Gillett Jr. in 2009 the pricetag for the team and the Molson Centre (now the Bell Centre) was $575 million. Gillett had purchased 80.1 per cent of the Canadiens and the arena in 2001 for $275 million. It had cost $265 million to build the arena alone, which opened in 1996.

Juulsen almost ready to return

Canadiens defenceman Noah Juulsen, who has missed the last seven games with a facial fracture, practised with the team on Wednesday and has been cleared for contact.

Juulsen won’t be in the lineup Thursday night, when the Canadiens play the Senators in Ottawa (7:30 p.m., TSN2, TSN5, RDS, TSN 690 Radio), but could be back on Sunday night in Chicago against the Blackhawks (6 p.m., SN, SN1, RDS, TSN 690 Radio). Juulsen suffered the injury when he got hit in the face with a puck that deflected up off his stick during the first period of a game against the Washington Capitals on Nov. 19. It was the second time Juulsen got hit in the same spot on the face by a puck in that game.

“I fractured my cheekbone pretty much,” Juulsen said. “So that’s the damage that’s done. Yeah, so it’s going to take a little bit to heal, but I can play with a cage (to protect his face), so that’s good.

“I feel ready to go,” he added. “I got good skates in with our medical staff and training staff, so I feel good to go.”

In 17 games this season, Juulsen has 1-4-5 totals and is plus-3, while averaging 17:32 of ice time.

“I want to get back in the lineup,” Juulsen said. “It’s an injury and that happens in the game that we play. So for me, just getting back in there and playing the way I was is what I’m going to have to do.”

Lines back in place

Canadiens coach Claude Julien made changes to two lines during the second period of Tuesday night’s 5-2 win over the Senators at the Bell Centre, replacing Andrew Shaw with Paul Byron on the No. 1 line with Max Domi and Jonathan Drouin and dropping Shaw to the third line with Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Artturi Lehkonen.

It worked very well, with both lines producing the rest of the way. Domi (2-1-3) and Drouin (1-2-3) both finished the game with three points, while Shaw and Kotkaniemi earned assists on a goal by Lehkonen. But at practice Wednesday, Julien had switched back to his original lines.

“I think they just needed to shake things up and get things going last night,” Shaw said after practice about changing lines Tuesday night. “I think we’ve been playing well as a line, so I think they see that as well.

“I think being versatile is a huge attribute in my game,” Shaw added. “It’s something that a lot of players in the NHL have and that’s why they’re in the NHL. You’re going to go through parts of seasons where things are going to need to be shaken up and to be able to be flipped on different lines I think it’s very important.”

Julien said he’s thankful to have a player like Shaw in the lineup who can be used in different roles.

“You can put him anywhere,” the coach said. “If you want him to just grind, put him on the fourth line, he’ll just grind. You want him to give some guys some space and also make plays like he did yesterday on Lehkonen’s goal … he can make plays as well. So he becomes a valuable player.”

The lines

Here’s how all the lines and defence pairings looked at practice Wednesday:

Drouin – Domi – Shaw
Tatar – Danault – Gallagher
Byron – Kotkaniemi – Lehkonen
Agostino – Chaput – Peca
Hudon – Deslauriers

Kulak – Weber
Schlemko – Petry
Reilly – Benn
Ouellet – Juulsen

Price will start again against Senators

Carey Price will get his sixth straight start Thursday night in Ottawa against the Senators.

Price made 28 saves in Tuesday night’s win over the Senators and has a 2-3-0 record in the last five games. For the season, Price has a 9-8-4 record with a 3.01 goals-against average and a .899 save percentage.

Tough decisions

The Canadiens have had to make some tough roster decisions this season and as a result have already lost two young players on waivers: Jacob de la Rose to the Detroit Red Wings and Nikita Scherbak to the Los Angeles Kings.

There will be other tough decisions to make moving forward once Juulsen is ready to return to the lineup and if defenceman Victor Mete eventually gets called back up from the AHL’s Laval Rocket.

“You try and develop a young player and when do you turn the page on him and when do you say this is what we have?” Julien said after Wednesday’s practice. “We’ve seen it before. I think there was a guy by the name of John LeClair who left here and scored 50 (for the Philadelphia Flyers). Those things are going to happen. You win some, you lose some. At some point as an organization you make a decision based on … I’m going to tell you it’s a little bit of a player’s potential, but also you look at what players are going to make your team the best team possible.

“As we all know, if you have all skill and no grit, who’s going to kill penalties, who’s going to block shots, who’s going throw checks, who’s going to stand up for your teammates?” the coach added. “So you need a good mixture and sometimes that’s where you have to make decisions based on what you need and what you have. You make those decisions based on that.

“As an organization, we’ve lost two players to waivers. If we would have kept him and put someone else we probably would have lost that guy on waivers as well. It can sound a bit like a negative because for us we would have preferred keeping both players that we lost. But that’s the name of the game. At the same time, you give credit to the people that bring the players in to say that we have that many good players that when it comes to waivers they get picked up. Other teams are able to slide certain players down. It just means maybe people just don’t see potential in them. That’s where we’re at. The part that I’m going to use the word sucks is that yeah, we don’t want to give up on players, but we have to make decisions for the present and you hope that the future follows as well.”

Kulak making most of his chance

Brett Kulak has now played three consecutive games as Shea Weber’s partner on the No. 1 defence pair with the Canadiens and has not looked out of place.

In Tuesday night’s win over the Senators, Kulak logged 16:31 of ice time and was plus-2 with three shots, two hits, two blocked shots and only one giveaway. Kulak is pointless in six games with the Canadiens since getting called up from the AHL’s Laval Rocket, but is also plus-3 while averaging 18:55 of ice time.

“I think it’s a good chance for me to get some good minutes at this level and to play with a guy like Shea it’s awesome,” Kulak said after Tuesday’s morning skate in Brossard. “It makes the game easier on me and my job is to help him out and make it as easy on him as possible. I think for us, obviously, we prefer to play in the O zone. So I think our focus is shortening up things in the D zone, closing hard on guys and getting pucks and moving them up to our forwards and getting it going offensively.

“He’s so smart positionally,” Kulak added about Weber. “He’s always in a good spot to give me an out when I get the puck in our own zone. So he’s always there to give me an option and he’s always supporting me whether it’s in the neutral zone or whatever. He does a really good job at just positioning himself for me and it gives me a little more time — an extra half a second with the puck. If I don’t have any other option, he always seems to be open for me.”

When asked if he felt more pressure playing beside Weber, Kulak said: “I think so. More so the pressure is when I’m playing with him I’m playing against top lines on the other team. So I think that’s something I’m not too, too familiar with at this level yet. But all other levels I’ve played it’s always been against the top players on the other team. So I think that’s where a little bit of the pressure comes in. But I felt in our first couple of games we did a pretty good job and we’re just looking to keep going and getting better.”

Setting sights on world juniors

Two more Canadiens prospects have been invited to selection camps for their respective teams for the World Junior Hockey Championship, which begins Dec. 26 in Victoria and Vancouver.

Defenceman Alexander Romanov, who was selected by the Canadiens in the second round (38th overall) at this year’s draft was invited to the Team Russia camp on Wednesday, while centre Jacob Olofsson, also drafted in the second round this year (56th overall), was invited to Team Sweden’s camp.

Romanov is pointless and plus-11 in 27 games this season with CSKA Moscow in the KHL, while Olofsson has 2-4-6 totals with Timra IK in Sweden.

Three other Canadiens prospects have already been invited to selection camps for the world junior tournament: forward Nick Suzuki and defenceman Josh Brook with Team Canada, and forward Jesse Ylonen with Team Finland.

What’s next?

The Canadiens have a morning skate scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Thursday at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa before playing the Senators Thursday night (7:30 p.m., TSN2, TSN5, RDS, TSN 690 Radio).

The Canadiens will travel to Chicago on Friday and practise Saturday afternoon at the MB Arena in preparation for Sunday’s game against the Blackhawks at the United Centre (6 p.m., SN, SN1, RDS, TSN 690 Radio). The Canadiens will fly to Minnesota after Sunday’s game and enjoy a day off Monday before facing the Wild on Tuesday night to wrap up their three-game road trip (8 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio).

The Canadiens will fly home after Tuesday night’s game and will face the Carolina Hurricanes next Thursday at the Bell Centre (7:30 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio), followed by the Senators next Saturday (7 p.m., SN, TVA Sports, TSN 690 Radio).

scowan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/StuCowan1

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Original Source
Author: Stu Cowan, Montreal Gazette

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