Bruins fans on Tuesday morning received their first glimpse of the 2016-17 NHL season when promoters in Quebec City announced the sale of tickets for an Oct. 4 preseason game there between the Bruins and Canadiens.
The game between the Original Six rivals will be played at the Centre Videotron, the new state-of-the-art arena built in hopes of the NHL one day bringing a team back to the city some 90 minutes northeast of Montreal.
Tickets for Bruins-Canadiens, at a flat rate of $28 (Canadian), go on sale Saturday at 10 a.m. by phone (855-790-1245) or online at evenko.ca.
The Bruins played their first regular-season NHL game in Quebec City, in the nearby Colisee, in 1979, the year the NHL adopted a handful of teams from the defunct World Hockey Association and grew from 16 to 21 teams.
Fans in Quebec City have spent the last 21 years waiting for the NHL to bring a team back. The Nordiques were abruptly sold in the summer of 1995 and moved to Denver as the Colorado Avalanche.
The NHL, now at 30 teams, is believed to be considering placing a team there — be it by expansion or franchise shift — but no plans have been finalized.
The game in Quebec City will be held only four days after the conclusion of the hockey World Cup in Toronto. Bruins center Patrice Bergeron, proud son of Quebec City, is expected to play for Team Canada in the World Cup and likely will be eager to play in the first NHL game ever staged in his hometown’s new arena.
The NHL has yet to release its full schedule for 2016-17, exhibition or regular season.
A spot for Marchand?
Brad Marchand, who led the Bruins this past season with a career-high 37 goals, is among the many candidates currently playing in the World Championships in Russia who hope to land a Team Canada roster spot for September’s World Cup in Toronto.
“That’s my mind-set,’’ said Oilers power forward and fellow Canadian Taylor Hall to the Toronto Sun last week. “I’d certainly love to be on that team.’’
Marchand and Hall are teammates right now in St. Petersburg in the ongoing World Championships. Marchand scored in each of Canada’s first two games — wins over the United States and Hungary — but exited the lineup Monday when he was injured in the second period of an 8-0 thumping of Belarus.
Marchand, who will turn 28 Wednesday, sustained an elbow to the head in the second period and did not play in the third period for what Canada coach Bill Peters said were “precautionary’’ reasons.
Darren Dreger, TSN’s Hockey Insider, tweeted that Marchand’s injury was not related to the elbow shot.
“Aggravated a pretournament injury,’’ Dreger tweeted. “Team Canada staff expects he will be fine. Not related to hit in second period.’’
Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said by e-mail that Marchand suffered a minor lower-body injury.
Among the Bruins’ few consistent offensive performers this past season, Marchand has one year remaining on his contract ($4.5 million cap hit). The Bruins, who missed the playoffs this season for a second straight year, are expected to try to extend his contract this summer, likely with a long-term deal that would place him on a similar pay grade with veterans David Krejci ($7.25 million) and Patrice Bergeron ($6.875 million).
Both Krejci (Czech Republic) and Bergeron (Canada) have been named to their countries’ preliminary rosters (16 players total) for the World Cup. The Canadians did not name Marchand among their eight forwards a couple of months ago, but on June 1 they will add five forwards to complete the roster.
Canada’s current stable of forwards includes Jeff Carter (Los Angeles), Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh), Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim), Tyler Seguin (Dallas), Steven Stamkos (Tampa Bay), John Tavares (NY Islanders), Jonathan Toews (Chicago), and Bergeron.
“I think when you look at this team,’’ Marchand told NHL.com in March, “there’s a lot of phenomenal players on that roster.’’
Marchand this past season ranked an impressive No. 6 overall in NHL goal scoring, behind only Alexander Ovechkin (50), Patrick Kane (46), Jamie Benn (41), Vladimir Tarasenko (40), and Joe Pavelski (38). Fellow Canadian Benn will be among Marchand’s stiffest competition for a World Cup roster spot.
His sometimes overzealous style could hurt Marchand’s chances of making coach Mike Babcock’s elite Canadian squad. To be effective, he needs to play with grit and agitate the opposition, but sometimes he goes too far. Case in point: his clip of Ottawa defenseman Mark Borowiecki in late December, a transgression that earned Marchand a three-game suspension, rendering him ineligible for the Jan. 1 Winter Classic against Montreal at Gillette Stadium.
Provided he returns as expected to World Championship play, the pesky Marchand will help his chances of making the final cut if he can continue to help Canada fill up the net.
In a league that has seen goal-scoring continue to drop over the last 8-10 years, Marchand’s ability to average nearly 30 goals a season, often aided by his quick release, could set him apart from other wingers.
Red Wings hire Houda
Longtime Bruins assistant coach Doug Houda, his contract not renewed here upon the conclusion of the regular season, was hired Tuesday by the Red Wings to join coach Jeff Blashill’s staff.
Houda, who will turn 50 June 3, came to Boston from Detroit when the Bruins hired ex-Red Wings assistant Dave Lewis as their head coach in 2006. Lewis was fired by then-general manager Peter Chiarelli after one season, but Houda remained on staff when Claude Julien was named as Lewis’s successor.
Houda, a former NHL defenseman, was in charge of the Boston defensive corps, a group that struggled the past two seasons. Houda, who signed a three-year contract with the Winged Wheels, most likely will be in charge of the Detroit back liners.
Tony Granato, who had been in charge of the Detroit defense and penalty-killing unit, recently left the club to become head coach of the University of Wisconsin, his alma mater.
“Doug Houda is a great coach,’’ Julien said last month. “Doug Houda will coach again in this league. The players loved him.’’
To date, Houda remains the only Boston coach dismissed from last season’s staff. Sweeney said last month that there could be more moves, but he has yet to name Houda’s replacement or otherwise amend the staff.