– The Flames have named Bob Hartley the team’s new head coach. Hartley, who was rumoured to be the next Canadiens’ bench boss, spent the 2011-12 season coaching the ZSC Lions in Zurich to the National A League Championship. Hartley coached the Avalanche to a Stanley Cup in 2001. He also coached the Thrashers for parts of five seasons between 2002 and 2008, guiding the franchise to its only playoff appearance in 2007.
– Commissioner Gary Bettman says the NHL is close to beginning labour talks with the NHL Players’ Association.
“The goal obviously is to reach a collective bargaining agreement that can take the game and the business to even higher levels that have been reached over the past seven season.”
“I understand the union is now prepared to begin talks and we are in the process of trying to set up dates,” he added. “It remains my hope that constructive negotiations can begin soon and culminate quickly so that attention can remain where it belongs and where everybody wants it to remain — and that is on the game.”
Bettman said he expects “in the next few weeks” they will begin to “set the table of what we each might want to be talking about.” He dismissed speculation that the talks may not prevent a labour dispute — noting the process hasn’t even started yet.
“Time will tell how this all sorts out. I’m hopeful that it sorts out easily because labour peace is preferable to the alternative.”
– The Blue Jackets have signed F Derek MacKenzie to a 2-year contract. MacKenzie, 30, scored seven goals and 14 points in 66 games last season with the Jackets.
– The Oilers have signed D Brandon Davidson to a 3-year, entry-level contract. The 20-year-old was selected 162nd overall by Edmonton in the 2010 draft. Davidson had 13 goals, 36 assists and 83 penalty minutes in 69 games with the Western Hockey League’s Regina Pats last season.
– According to the Wrestling Observer, WWE officials have been so impressed with CM Punk and Daniel Bryan’s recent series of matches that there are plans to have Daniel Bryan travel with the RAW brand and continue wrestling Punk at live events. There is talk of Bryan and Punk wrestling submission matches.
– WWE has released new t-shirts for WWE Champion CM Punk (“I Dig Crazy Chicks”) and Sin Cara (“Follow the Faceless”). Punk’s crazy chicks shirt is from his recent backstage interaction with AJ, who recently tweeted that she digs guys who dig crazy chicks.
– WWE recently signed UK bodybuilder Steve Evans to a developmental deal. The 6-foot-6, 260 pound beast recently underwent WWE’s medical physicals and is expected to report to FCW soon.
– Giants’ WR Hakeem Nicks (foot surgery) said in a Wednesday conference call with reporters that he’ll be ready for Week 1. ”I don’t have any doubt.” said Nicks, who indicated he and the Giants will take all precautions necessary to avoid setbacks. Nicks confirmed that the team anticipates him ultimately missing 12 weeks, putting him out until mid to late August. The Giants have some silver lining in that Nicks’ absence will get Rueben Randle, Domenik Hixon, and Jerrel Jernigan increased training camp reps.
– Indians’ DH Travis Hafner (right knee) underwent a medial meniscectomy Thursday morning and will miss 4-6 weeks.