NHL Notes: Hurricanes owner considers reported $500 million offer to sell team

NHL Notes: Hurricanes owner considers reported $500 million offer to sell team

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos Jr. is considering selling the NHL team.

Hurricanes spokesman Mike Sundheim said in a statement that Karmanos is deciding whether to accept an offer for the franchise or remain the owner, but he declined to say who made the offer.

The offer could have come from former Texas Rangers CEO Chuck Greenberg. Bloomberg News and WRAL-TV, the NBC affiliate in Raleigh, reported that Greenberg is close to purchasing the team and will not move the Hurricanes. Bloomberg reported the sale price at roughly $500 million.

Karmanos bought the Hartford Whalers franchise in 1994 and moved it to North Carolina three years later. He had been publicly seeking a local buyer for at least three years.

Greenberg is the Rangers' former managing partner who spent seven months as their CEO before leaving in 2011. He also owns several minor-league baseball teams, including one in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Greenberg did not return a phone call and a text message seeking comment. Seven of the team's 12 publicly identified minority investors contacted by The Associated Press either declined comment or did not respond to phone calls and emails seeking comment.

Reports about possible relocation have plagued the Hurricanes even as team officials and even Commissioner Gary Bettman have persistently and repeatedly denied them. Bettman said at the All-Star game in January that "the club is not moving" and NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly echoed that sentiment by saying the league is committed to Raleigh in the same manner it has stuck with Phoenix during years of struggles for the Coyotes (see full story).

Oilers: Ference retires after 16-year career
EDMONTON, Alberta -- Veteran defenseman Andrew Ference, who won a Stanley Cup with the Boston Bruins in 2011, has announced his retirement from the NHL after 16 seasons.

The 38-year-old made his announcement Thursday after spending the past four seasons with Edmonton, where he served as the Oilers' captain from 2013-15.

The 5-foot-11, 184-pound Ference totaled 43 goals, 182 assists and 753 penalty minutes in 907 career games with Pittsburgh, Calgary, Boston and Edmonton. He also had eight goals, 30 assists and 122 penalty minutes in 120 playoff games, including four goals and six assists in 25 games during the Bruins' championship run.

Ference was selected by the Penguins in the eighth round, 208th overall, of the 1997 NHL draft.

"As I graduate from my time of playing in the NHL, I realize I have the problem of being unable to properly thank the hundreds of people who have helped me achieve my goal of playing in the best league in the world," Ference said in a statement released by the Oilers. "No one gets here on their own, especially average sized guys with average skills. If you think you deserve a thank you from me, you probably do ... Thanks!"

Ference also represented Canada at the 1999 world junior hockey championship.

Kings: Team re-signs Russian center Loktionov
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Kings have re-signed Andrei Loktionov, the Russian center who won a Stanley Cup ring with the club in 2012.

The Kings confirmed the professional tryout contract Thursday.

Loktionov was a fifth-round pick by the Kings in 2008, and he played 59 games with Los Angeles over three seasons from 2009-12.

He appeared in two early postseason games for the Kings in 2012 during their run to the franchise's first NHL title. His name wasn't inscribed on the Stanley Cup despite his appearance in 39 regular-season games that season.

Loktionov was traded in February 2013 to New Jersey, where he played 76 games over two seasons before getting traded to Carolina for another 20 games. He spent the past three seasons playing for Lokomotiv Yaroslavl in the KHL.

There's a new game in town: The Philadelphia Rebels

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John Boruk/CSNPhilly.com

There's a new game in town: The Philadelphia Rebels

The opportunity to watch a Briere play again in Philadelphia will be an exciting reality for hockey fans this season.

No, Danny Briere isn’t coming out of retirement as the former Flyers forward has committed to handling the day-to-day operations of the organization’s newest ECHL team.  

However, Briere will be keeping close tabs on his younger son, Carson, who’s currently on the Philadelphia Rebels' 30-man roster and is setting his sights on making the team’s final cuts during training camp.

“It’s great,” Briere said Monday. “Growing up here for most of my life, I love Philly. It’s fun getting to play in the same city that [my dad] did. Whenever I think of him playing, I always think of that playoff run [in 2010] for the Flyers.”

After spending the past two seasons at IceWorks in Aston, Pennsylvania, the NAHL’s (North American Hockey League) Rebels are moving their operation to the Penn Ice Rink at the Class of 1923 Arena, where they made the formal announcement on Monday. It will be the organization’s third different home rink in the past four seasons after relocating from the Rio Grande Valley in 2015.

“It was a no-brainer,” team owner Marko Dundovich said. “When the opportunity presented itself, it was very easy. I think it will give the boys a better opportunity to play, get them seen and I think it’s going to continue to grow here, and our business and organization will do much better here.”

The Rebels and junior hockey simply didn’t attract a broad appeal in the Philadelphia suburbs like ownership had hoped, and as a result, attendance lagged as the team typically averaged around 125 fans a game.

“It was the first time we tried Junior A hockey here,” Dundovich said. “If we had a 300-, 400- or 500-person fan base, we would have been OK in Aston, but I think it was tough to sell a junior hockey ticket in Aston. It’s a difficult sell in a small town.”   

Conversely, hockey fans in Philadelphia haven’t had much of an alternative to the Flyers since the Phantoms left the city in 2009 for Glens Falls, New York. Rebels forward Aaron Maguyon, who stays with former Flyers captain Keith Primeau throughout the season, feels the team cannot only fill the 2,500-seat ice rink, but the players will greatly benefit from the college vibe.  

“I think it prepares us for the future and playing college hockey, for sure, so in that way, it’s like a sneak peek for what’s to come," Maguyon said. "I think it helps pull guys closer together. We have restaurants we can go to or just activities we can do in the city."

According to the league website, the NAHL set a new single-season NCAA record with 280-plus commitments, and the Rebels had 12 commit to Divison I programs. Head coach Joe Coombs has built a tier-II junior hockey powerhouse over the past two years. Last season, the Rebels finished with the NAHL’s best regular-season record, advancing to the championship game of the Robertson Cup in Duluth, Minnesota, where they came up short in a 2-0 loss to the Lone Star Brahmas. 

“This is business,” Coombs said. “Let’s bring the game to the people. Over the last two years, we struggled with our attendance. I didn’t even know this place was here — UPenn hockey rink — and we couldn’t think of a better venue right here in University City to try and market our brand of hockey and bring our game to the people.”  

And who knows? You might just see a few former Flyers in the seats, as well.  

NHL Notes: Penguins sign defenseman Brian Dumoulin to 6-year contract

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USA Today Images

NHL Notes: Penguins sign defenseman Brian Dumoulin to 6-year contract

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin has turned his steady play for the Stanley Cup champions into a new contract.

Dumoulin and the team agreed to a six-year deal on Monday that will run through the 2022-23 season and will pay him an average of $4.1 million per year.

The 25-year-old Dumoulin had three goals and 11 assists during Pittsburgh's run to the Cup this spring and hasn't missed a playoff game during the team's sprint to back-to-back titles.

Dumoulin averaged a team-high 21:59 of ice time this postseason, and his plus-9 rating was best among Penguins defensemen. Dumoulin was forced to take on a larger roll this spring after injuries forced Kris Letang to miss the playoffs.

Predators: Watson signs 3-year, $3.3 million deal
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Nashville Predators have signed forward Austin Watson to a three-year $3.3 million deal keeping him under contract through 2019-20.

The Predators announced the deal Monday.

Watson will earn $1 million this season, $1.1 million in 2018-19 and $1.2 million in the third year.

The 25-year-old forward is coming off his best season yet with Nashville. The 6-foot-4, 204-pound Watson had a career high with five goals and seven assists in 77 games this past season. Watson scored four goals and had nine points in 22 playoff games helping Nashville reach the Stanley Cup Final.

The 18th pick overall in the 2010 draft, Watson had three goals and 10 points in 57 games during the 2015-16 season.

Now, center Ryan Johansen is Nashville's lone restricted free agent awaiting a new deal.

Sabres: Okposo says he’s healthy after concussion
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Sabres winger Kyle Okposo said he is fully healthy after a concussion led to sleeping trouble, significant weight loss and a trip to intensive care last March.

Okposo missed the final few weeks of Buffalo's season with a previously undisclosed illness. In a letter posted on the team's website Monday, Okposo said a routine hit in practice caused his mood to change and other problems that required hospitalization.

The 29-year-old said he lost his appetite, had a negative reaction to sleep medications and that at one point he weighed less than 200 pounds. He spent time in the Neuro Surgical ICU at Buffalo General Hospital to be stabilized. Okposo's playing weight is listed at 218 pounds.

Okposo played in a 4-on-4 summer league game in Minnesota with other NHL players last week and reported feeling great. New general manager Jason Botterill said Okposo was on track to be ready for training camp.

"I've worked with a lot of different people -- concussion experts and people who have dealt with concussions themselves -- and I feel confident in the fact that I can play hockey again," Okposo said in the letter. "In fact, I know I can play again. I know I can play and not worry about hitting my head, which is a major hurdle for someone who's dealt with this. If I didn't feel 100 percent right now, that probably wouldn't be the case."

Okposo's last NHL game was March 27 against Florida. He had 19 goals and 26 assists for 45 points in 65 games during his first season with Buffalo. He signed a $42 million, seven-year contract with the Sabres last summer.

NHL: Gamble to get back Hall of Fame ring
PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- A scuba-diving treasure hunter who found an American Hockey League Hall of Fame ring in one of New York's Finger Lakes is returning it to its owner.

Gary Gavurnik, of Auburn, New York, plans to return the prized ring to former AHL star Dick Gamble on Monday. Gavurnik found it with a metal detector in Canandaigua Lake over the Fourth of July weekend.

The 88-year-old Canadian-born Gamble starred for the AHL's Rochester Americans and retired early in the 1969-70 season. He was inducted into the AHL Hall of Fame in 2007.

Instead of wearing the ring, though, he gave it to his son, Craig, who wore it every day for seven years before losing it in the lake. He never told his dad and ordered a replacement.