The Stanley Cup Final begins tonight, with Game #1 to be held in Denver between the Colorado Avalanche and the Tampa Bay Lightning.

I think this is going to be a really great series, one of the funnest to watch in recent memory, even for those who have no stake in the outcome. Everything from the insanity of the Andrei Vasilevskiy’s  goaltending, to will or won’t Nazem Kadri come back for the series, to the Avalanche going for their first win in 20 years, to a possible third Stanley Cup win in a row for the Lightning are all compelling stories on their own, but the hockey itself will be the star here. I expect some of the absolute best and gruelling games to a point that I actually want to see this series go all the way to seven games, preferably with a dramatic OT finish. It’s gonna be great.

But will it actually get to seven? We have our series opening poll below for you to vote. Here’s a reminder of the schedule; all games are at 8:00 p.m. ET, and all are broadcast on CBC and SN in Canada, and ABC and ESPN+ in the US.

Game #1: Lightning @ Avalanche, Today!
Game #2: Lightning @ Avalanche, Saturday June 18
Game #3: Avalanche @ Lightning, Monday June 20
Game #4: Avalanche @ Lightning, Wednesday June 22
Game #5: Lightning @ Avalanche, Friday June 24
Game #6: Avalanche @ Lightning, Sunday June 26
Game #7: Lightning @ Avalanche, Tuesday June 28

Other News

The days off between these games are likely to have some news dumps from the other NHL teams, as the league generally frowns upon any media from non-participating teams on game days. The first out of the gate for this are the Vegas Golden Knights who picked Bruce Cassidy as their new coach—only 72 hours after he was fired by the Boston Bruins—and then late last night news broke that the Philadelphia Flyers have selected John Tortorella off the coaching carousel. This presumably means that Barry Trotz will wind up going to the Winnipeg Jets after all. The official announcements of all thee of these hires will probably be announced tomorrow or Friday because, as noted, announcements should be on non-game days per the above schedule, but maybe some team throws the NHL’s caution to the wind and makes it official today.

Golden Knights hire Bruce Cassidy as new head coach - Knights On Ice
The Golden Knights’ search for a new head coach is over.

Flyers reportedly offer John Tortorella head coaching gig - Broad Street Hockey
Is Torts coming to Philly? Looks like it. [SPECIES: Poor JvR! Someone needs to rescue him from Philly. I’d go, but I can’t afford to gas up my 1987 Ford Econoline at these insane prices!]

Jared Bednar’s evolution into one of the brightest coaching minds in hockey - Sportsnet
Jared Bednar is four wins away from being a Stanley Cup champion. The journey to this point didn’t start in Colorado, though, it began with a conversation one hot summer evening in South Carolina.

Rangers Announce Jessica Campbell as 2022 Development Camp Coach - Blueshirt Banter
The former CWHL and Team Canada star will help develop the next generation of New York Rangers.

Are Big Changes Coming To Rogers & Hockey Night? - YYZsportsmedia
Could the Shaw, Rogers merger lead to Ron MacLean leaving Hockey night in Canada and other changes at Rogers Sportsnet? Insiders whisper that change is in the air and Ron and the network think it may be time to “move on”.

MLS, Apple, reach exclusive ten-year deal - Sports Media Watch
Under the agreement, every MLS match will be available through a new subscription service available within the Apple TV app, with no local blackouts. The league is reportedly still in negotiations with its current partners, but those deals will be non-exclusive and any game on those platforms would be simulcast on Apple. Essentially, one will be able to watch the entire MLS season solely with one over-the-top subscription, eliminating the need to purchase linear cable or an out-of-market package. [SPECIES: Can you imagine the NHL ever doing something so smart as allowing people to actually watch all their games on a single platform? Neither can I.]

Speaking of the NHL and their ownership, a little birdie directed me to the website of Quebec’s Autorité des marchés financiers, which is their equivalent of the Ontario Securities Commission, with instructions to check their report on “exempt distributions” under what is called National Instrument 45-106—often the bane of my non-hockey related existence in and around the last week of January every year. This regulation requires that investment funds disclose all capital raised on a “prospectus exemption” or as an “exempt market dealer”, which essentially means investments sold to people or entities deemed to be sufficiently rich and sophisticated that they don’t need to have all the protections of sales practices that you or I get when we go and talk to that guy at the bank branch about buying some mutual funds with the couple hundred bucks we have saved to retire on.

I went on that advice and found this disclosure in a PDF buried in the AMF website:

Arctos Sports Partners is an investment firm run out of Dallas, Texas with their funds having a specialty of investing in sports franchises. They acquired stakes in at least two NHL teams in late-2021, per media reports; the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Minnesota Wild, and they have holdings in the franchises of other sports leagues as well.

Arctos Closes Deals for Stakes in NHL’s Lightning, Wild

So the question is who in Quebec had $186 million to dump into this private equity partnership last October to accumulate some ownership in these franchises? I thought of the CDPQ, but looking through their 12/31/2021 reports I don’t see that position disclosed, so who else could it be? It’s possible this is a total of several investors, though that’s still tens of millions in from each of them. We may never know who it is, but it’s interesting to see that since the NHL loosened it’s ownership rules to allow LP’s to invest in franchises the money is indeed now flowing into the teams.

Here’s the obligatory poll on who you think wins the Stanley Cup.

Bolts sweep0
Avalanche sweep1
Bolts in five or six games55
Avalanche in five or six games44
Bolts in seven games51
Avalanche in seven games34