Hockey briefs – June 3

The owners of Winnipeg’s new NHL team say they have sold more than 4,000 season tickets in just over a day.

Moose fans loading up on NHL tickets

WINNIPEG — The owners of Winnipeg’s new NHL team say they have sold more than 4,000 season tickets in just over a day.

The as-yet unnamed team wants to sell 13,000 season tickets before the June 21 NHL board of governors meeting where the Atlanta Thrashers move to Winnipeg will be approved.

The count, which is updated each afternoon on the team’s website, shows 4,170 have been sold.

Currently, only season ticket holders for the AHL Manitoba Moose are getting a chance to secure between four and eight seats each.

There are about 2,000 Moose fans who had season seats.

Tickets go on sale to everyone on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the MTS Centre, where the team will play, is getting a sneak peak at its NHL future, or make that the past.

Keep Your Head Up Kid: The Don Cherry Story is shooting a sequel and using the arena to recreate a 1979 NHL game between the Boston Bruins and Colorado Rockies, two teams Cherry coached.


Cup ratings jump

VANCOUVER — Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final was the highest-ever rated NHL game for CBC, the public broadcaster said Thursday.

The Vancouver Canucks’ 1-0 win over the Boston Bruins averaged 5.6 million viewers and peaked at 7.8 million viewers, shattering the previous mark of 4.96 million set in 1994 when Vancouver took on the New York Rangers in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final.

It was also the second most-watched sports program in network history, behind only the 2002 Olympic men’s hockey final between Canada and the U.S., which drew an audience of 8.96 million viewers.

The introduction of a new measuring system in September 2009 has seen sports TV ratings skyrocket in Canada.

Meanwhile, Wednesday’s game saw NBC record the best ratings for a Stanley Cup Game 1 in 12 years.

The American network drew 4.6 million viewers, a three-per-cent increase from last year, the NHL said in a release.

The opening game of last year’s final between the Philadelphia Flyers and Chicago Blackhawks drew 4.4 million viewers.

Game 1 of the 1999 final between the Buffalo Sabres and Dallas Stars drew 5.1 million viewers on Fox.

This is the first Stanley Cup final featuring a Canadian team since the Ottawa Senators played the Anaheim Ducks in 2007. The first network broadcast of that series was Game 3 and it attracted a U.S. audience of 1.6 million.


Sidney Crosby cleared to resume working out

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby has been cleared to resume off-ice workouts in a few weeks.

Crosby met with concussion expert Dr. Michael Collins on Tuesday and will begin his summer program back home in Cole Harbour, N.S., within three weeks, the team said in statement Thursday.

“I met with Sid (on) Wednesday before he left for home and talked to Dr. Collins,” Penguins general manager Ray Shero said. “(Crosby) will resume his workouts and get back into his program in Cole Harbour.”

Crosby, who was sidelined in early January after sustaining two hard hits in as many games, was enjoying his best season with 66 points in 41 games before he was hurt.

“Everything will be closely managed by Dr. Collins,” Shero said, “in terms of his progression leading up to him getting on the ice later in the summer per his usual routine.”

The 23-year-old Crosby will not start on-ice workouts until late July or early August, which is his normal off-season workout schedule, the team said.

Without Crosby and fellow injured star Evgeni Malkin, the Penguins blew a 3-1 series lead and lost in seven games to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round of the playoffs.


Blues re-sign Polak

ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Blues inked defenceman Roman Polak to a five-year US$13.75 million contract extension Thursday.

The 25-year-old Polak played in 55 games for the Blues in 2010-11, recording three goals, nine assists and 33 penalty minutes.

Polak will earn $2 million next season, $2.45 million in the second season and $3.1 million in the last three years of the deal.

“We believe Roman is one of the top defensive defencemen in the league who plays against the opposing team’s best players night after night,” Blues executive vice-president and general manager Doug Armstrong said in a statement.

The six-foot-one, 227-pound Polak, who has eight goals, 41 assists and 143 penalty minutes in 227 NHL games, was set to become a restricted free agent July 1.