Stars CEO Jim Lites transitioning to chairman role

Dallas Stars CEO Jim Lites will transition into the role of chairman, the team announced Friday.

In Lites' place, president Brad Alberts will add CEO to his title.

As chairman, Lites will serve and provide counsel to Alberts, among other business-related responsibilities, the release states. Alberts will oversee "the entire operations" of the team.

"I have spent the majority of my career here in Dallas," Lites said. "This organization means the world to me and my family. I'm thrilled to remain active in advising the leaders of the Stars, as well as expanding the various business initiatives that the Gaglardi family has outside of the hockey world. I've had the pleasure to both mentor Brad, as well as partner with him, for over two decades. I know he is ready for this challenge."

Lites is in his third stint with the Stars organization (1993-02; 2003-07; 2011-present). He created controversy in December 2018 when Lites said leading scorers Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin were "f------ horseshit." General manager Jim Nill and the NHLPA condemned Lites' comments, with the union calling them "reckless and insulting." Benn responded by saying "I don't play for him. I play for every player in this room."

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Report: NHL assigns teams to hotels

NHL players know which hotels they'll be assigned to upon arriving in their respective bubble cities, and now the public does, too.

The league released hotel assignments to each team, TSN's Bob McKenzie reported on Thursday's "Insider Trading."

The Eastern Conference's top five teams will stay at Hotel X in Toronto, which is located on the Canadian National Exhibition grounds, where there will be a 40-acre campus-like village for the players.

Hotel X (Toronto)
Boston Bruins
Tampa Bay Lightning
Washington Capitals
Philadelphia Flyers
Pittsburgh Penguins

The remaining teams in the Eastern Conference will call the Fairmont Royal York in downtown Toronto home, which is located just outside the bubble. McKenzie notes the hotels will be "fully locked down."

Royal York (Toronto)
Carolina Hurricanes
New York Islanders
Toronto Maple Leafs
Columbus Blue Jackets
Florida Panthers
New York Rangers
Montreal Canadiens

In the Western Conference, the top six teams will set up at the JW Marriott in Edmonton, which is connected to Rogers Place, the Oilers' state-of-the-art home.

JW Marriott (Edmonton)
St. Louis Blues
Colorado Avalanche
Vegas Golden Knights
Dallas Stars
Edmonton Oilers
Nashville Predators

The remaining teams in the west will stay at the nearby Sutton Place Hotel, which is about a five-minute walk to Rogers Place.

Sutton Place (Edmonton)
Vancouver Canucks
Calgary Flames
Winnipeg Jets
Minnesota Wild
Arizona Coyotes
Chicago Blackhawks

Players are expected to travel to their hub cities on July 26, with the qualifying round reportedly beginning July 31.

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Projecting Czech Republic’s 2022 Olympic roster

With Olympic participation reportedly included in the NHL and NHLPA's modified collective bargaining agreement, it's time for hockey fans to think about what the tournament may look like. This edition forecasts Team Czech Republic's roster.

The Czech Republic is laden with NHL talent but void of relative star power. The Czechs have struggled on the world stage recently, failing to earn a medal in any major men's competition since capturing a bronze at the 2012 World Championship. That said, they do have an impressive history, including a gold-medal triumph at the 1998 Nagano Olympics and a run of three consecutive world titles from 1999-2001.

Others in this series:
Canada
USA
Sweden
Finland
Russia - July 12

Czech Republic

Head coach: Milos Raha

Raha led the Czechs to a semifinals appearance at the 2019 World Championship and was subsequently labeled as the coach for the 2020 tournament before it was canceled. With no international hockey on the horizon, it's safe to assume he can hold his post behind the bench for Beijing in 2022.

Forwards

Maddie Meyer / Getty Images Sport / Getty
LW C RW
Jakub Voracek (32) Tomas Hertl (28) David Pastrnak (25)
Jakub Vrana (25) David Krejci (35) Dominik Kubalik (26)
Ondrej Palat (30) Radek Faksa (28) Martin Necas (23)
Filip Chytil (21) Pavel Zacha (24) Ondrej Kase (26)

(All ages as of February 2022)

Extra: Filip Zadina (22)

Pastrnak is the leader up front, as the Bruins star is unquestionably the team's most dynamic forward. This season's "Rocket" Richard winner is a legitimate threat to score every time he's on the ice, and you can expect him to log major minutes in a tournament with little margin for error. Alongside Pastrnak are a pair of strong options on the top line in Hertl, who was enjoying another terrific year in 2019-20 before suffering a knee injury, and Voracek, who's made a career out of setting up his teammates.

The Czech Republic's second line is anchored by Krejci, who might not be the most prolific producer in 2022, but he'll still be smart and reliable enough on both ends of the ice to be trusted in a large role. Flanking him are two of the NHL's most efficient goal-scorers this past season. Kubalik ranked first among all regular skaters with 1.7 goals per 60 minutes, while Vrana was fourth at 1.55.

The bottom six is comprised primarily of players that hold checking roles in the NHL. However, the Czechs have two enticing young options in Necas and Chytil that could make major developmental strides by the time Beijing rolls around. If they blossom into legitimate offensive difference-makers, this forward corps will look incredibly well-rounded.

Just missed the cut: Dominik Simon, Michael Frolik, Tomas Nosek

Defense

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty
LD RD
Michal Kempny (31) Filip Hronek (24)
Radim Simek (29) Radko Gudas (31)
Libor Hajek (24) Jan Rutta (31)

Extra: Roman Polak (35)

This squad's main area of concern is its blue line. Comprised of the only seven Czech defenders to suit up in the NHL this past season, this unit doesn't appear fit to shut down the stacked attacking squads boasted by the likes of Canada, the U.S., Sweden, and Russia.

Hronek - who posted impressive numbers on a dreadful Red Wings team in 2019-20 - is the most promising piece on the back end. The 22-year-old notched 32 points in 65 games while averaging nearly 24 minutes per night against opponents' top lines. If he continues on his current trajectory, he'll be the anchor of a defensive corps lacking any additional standout players.

Goalies

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty
G
David Rittich (29)
Petr Mrazek (30)

Extra: Pavel Francouz (31)

The Czechs don't have a bonafide No. 1 option in goal, but they can carry three serviceable options between the pipes. Rittich gets the nod solely based on the fact that he's a full-time starter. That said, he'll need to post better numbers over the next two years to earn his spot.

Mrazek hasn't been consistent enough over the last five seasons to have the edge, while Francouz - the little-known Avalanche backup - could be the dark horse in this race. The 30-year-old has posted a .923 save percentage through his first 36 NHL appearances, and if he comes close to maintaining that number, the Czech Republic may be forced to hand him the reins.

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Horvat confident lack of playoff experience won’t hinder Canucks

Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat isn't worried about his teammates' lack of playoff experience as they head into their qualifying-round series versus the Minnesota Wild.

"I think they will be up for it," Horvat told NHL.com's David Satriano. "They know what it takes to win, and they know what playoff hockey is like. I think they are going to be ready for it. They have the game to suit the playoffs."

Horvat, who's only 24, is considered a veteran among Vancouver's impressive young nucleus of Elias Pettersson (21), Quinn Hughes (20), and Brock Boeser (22).

Starting goaltender Jacob Markstrom has also never suited up in the playoffs, though Horvat is confident they won't have any issues adjusting in their postseason debuts.

"I don't think there's much to be said, I think they just know what needs to be done and our main goal at the end of it," Horvat said.

He added: "Our main goal is to win playoff games and ultimately win the Stanley Cup. The organization deserves it, my teammates deserve it, and obviously the city of Vancouver deserves it so that's what we're going to try and do here."

The seventh-seeded Canucks will take on the 10th-seeded Wild in a best-of-five play-in series, with the winner advancing to the traditional 16-team bracket. Vancouver will be one of 12 teams stationed in Edmonton's hub, with play-in games expected to begin July 31.

The players' association and NHL board of governors are currently voting to ratify the tentative collective bargaining agreement and all return-to-play protocols, with results expected to be announced Friday.

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Remember, we are all Canucks!