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Morning Bag Skate: Ray Whitney retires, Vegas expansion fees keep going up

Our daily look at Blackhawks news and the happenings around the world of hockey.

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

The All-Star break begins Thursday, but we don't have to wait long for the festivities to begin. The fantasy draft is Friday, the skills competition is Saturday and the big game itself is Sunday, so there's not shortage of stuff going on. We'll be covering most of it from our Blackhawks-tinged perspective. Anyways, here's the latest news for now:

**ESPN's Stats & Info crew digs into why Jonathan Toews and Sidney Crosby stand out as the game's premier centers (ESPN)

**The Blackhawks are getting an outdoor game again next season, this time in Minnesota as part of the league's Stadium Series. We're certainly not complaining around these parts. (SCH)

**A couple of IceHogs got AHL All-Star Game nods -- Mark McNeill was added to the roster, while T.J. Brennan was named a starter. (SCH)

**While the NHL keeps saying the $72-73M cap projection is intact, the Canadian dollar keeps falling. (PHT)

**Longtime NHL forward Ray Whitney announced his retirement after 1,330 regular season games, 1,064 points and a Stanley Cup in 2006 with Carolina. (ESPN)

**Like Car Bomb a few days ago, Zac Rinaldo declined the chance for an in-person hearing with the league for his brutal hit on Kris Letang. That hearing will happen over the phone, but now he's eligible for a suspension of more than five games. (PHT)

**SBN's Flyers blog is pretty much done with Rinaldo after the cheap shot on Letang (Broad Street Hockey)

**Expansion fees for a possible Las Vegas franchise just keep going up and up (TSN)

**The Sharks will move their AHL affiliate from Worcester, Mass., to San Jose for the 2015-16 season. The franchise will take up off-dates at the SAP Center. (Mercury News)

**The Senators have received interest in Chris Neil and could still move the forward before the trade deadline (Ottawa Citizen)