Friday, October 28, 2005

Western Conference Monthly Review - October 2005

DET - No one had them picked to be this good. Legace is solid and Datsyuk and Zetterberg are ready to shine.
NAS - Breakout year, Kariya is comeback player of the year.
STL - Bad team, will finish last overall
CHI - Slow start, but very energetic. Khabibulin is getting stronger, they should improve. Like Vorobiev
CLB - The Blue Jackets have been disappointing, no Nash, and Zherdev playing like he isn't in the lineup either.
VAN - Solid team, BErtuzzi looks a bit lossed. He thinks he is a plymaker instead of a goal scorer.
COL - Interesting team, surprising play by Turgeon, Brisebois, and Brunette. Goaltending is the big question, and extension were not picked up on Sakic and Blake contracts
MIN - Trap? Lemaire is a genious.
CGY - bad start, have not adjusted to the new NHL
EDM - Bad start, Pronger struggling. Lowe thought Peca was a scoring centre - think again, and no goalie.
LA - Hard working team, doing strong even with J.R. off to a slow start
DAL - TUrco is having a bad start.
PHX - Gretzky is really into it, I think they will improve.
ANA - Giguere not looking good, poor start. Selanne looks young and fast again
SJ - slow start, will bounce back

Eastrern Conference Monthly Review - October 2005

NYR - Jagr is back and unstopable with the new rules, Lundkvist a surprise
PHI - Esche is the question mark, Forsberg and Gagne great chemistry
NYI - Yashin has become a PP expert, but that doesn't say much for overall game
NJ - Is it time to rebuild in the Swamp? I think it is and I think Lou is thinking about it too.I think by the trade deadline, Lou should think of moving Brodeur, Madden, Langenbruenner, and Kozlov and look to the future
PIT - Crosby looks good, but not a GREAT ONE. Lemieux looks distracted, and Pens do not play defence. Will not make playoffs
MON - Fast and Furious.....nothing else to say.
OTT - Best team in league, Spezza, Heatley, and Alfredsson look dynamite, hope Hasek stays healthy and focused
BUF - Surprising start thanks to Miller in goal. Team is not that good to keep it up though. Look for them to move Biron in goal
TOR - Who thought they would even be this good? What happens when Sundin gets back? Belak sucks, gauranteed 6 mins in PIMs / game
BOS - Slow start, but ready to explode.
CAR - Eric Staal is a big development, and so has been the team play. Hopefully goaltending stays strong through the year
FLO - Roberts and Nieuwendyk a bust, and already prone to small nagging injuries.
TB - Slow start, beginning to pick up slack. Was St. Louis lucky last year? Questions in goal.
WAS - Ovechkin to win Calder Trophy. Witt, Kolzig, and Friesen will be the veterans to be moved prior to deadline. THey are strongveterans that will not see cup in WAS for a very long time. Hanlon as coach has been surprised.
ATL - Big disappointment with a terrible start. No defence, no goalie = one very long year. Heartly has to be on the hot seat.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Eddie the Eagle soars again

TORONTO (CP) - Ed Belfour perfectly summed up a topsy-turvy evening that ended brilliantly for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
''That was just crazy, an emotional roller-coaster,'' the 40-year-old said. ''One minute you're a slug and the next minute you're a hero.''
The veteran Maple Leafs netminder made 49 saves during the game and three more in the shootout as Toronto rallied to beat the Boston Bruins 5-4 Monday night.
Belfour gave up a pair of weak ones in the second period and a brain cramp led to Boston's fourth goal in the third period, but in-between and in the late stages Belfour saved Toronto's bacon.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

The Godlen Brett Retires...A 'Hull' of a career

In 1,264 games, the right-winger has 741 goals and 649 assists for 1,390 points. -- Veteran NHL forward Brett Hull is retiring.The 41-year-old spoke with Coyotes' management following Thursday's game and said he felt it was time for him to hang up his blades.
Phoenix general manager Mike Barnett asked Hull to take yesterday off to speak to his family before making a final decision. Hull did that and today announced to the team his intention to call it quits.Although Hull managed to get himself back into reasonable shape to play, he feels in his own mind, his skills have diminished. Furthermore, he wants to go out near the top of his game.Drafted by the Flames in 1984, Hull played 18 seasons in the NHL for Calgary, St. Louis, Dallas and Detroit before signing with Phoenix prior to this season.In 1,264 games, the right winger has 741 goals and 649 assists for 1,390 points. He scored more than 50 goals in five straight seasons with the Blues from 1989 to 1994 and holds the third-highest single-season goal total in NHL history with 86.In addition, Hull scored 103 goals in 202 playoff games, his most memorable being the Stanley Cup-clinching goal for the Dallas Stars against the Buffalo Sabres in 1999.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Sundin to wear visor on return

Despite his assertion he will wear a visor when he returns to the
lineup, the Leaf captain would not definitively say he would continue
to wear one.

TORONTO (CP) -- Now that he's had the scare of his life, Toronto Maple
Leafs captain Mats Sundin believes the visor may go on for good when
he returns from his gruesome injury.

"Yeah, I think so, I think I've used all my good breaks," Sundin said
Friday, meeting reporters for the first time since getting hit in the
left eye with a puck seven minutes into Wednesday's season opener.
"I've had some close calls with my eyes before.

"Definitely when I start playing I'm going to have to wear one for
sure and hopefully I can continue it. That's my goal, for sure."

The fact that he's not totally sure he'll keep the visor on certainly
seems to defy logic, but it also underlines the reluctance so many NHL
players have in wearing one. In a game where every split second
counts, seeing the ice as well as they can is paramount for some
players, even with the enormous risk attached to leaving their eyes

"I'm well aware on the discussion on both ends of the argument," Leafs
GM John Ferguson said after practice Friday. "Personal choice versus
safety, or comfort versus safety. It's an issue that in many ways
remains unresolved.

"But I have encouraged those who want to wear one to do so, for sure."

Fedor Fedorov traded to NYR

Vancouver, B.C. - Vancouver Canucks Senior Vice-President and General
Manager Dave Nonis announced the Canucks have acquired Jozef Balej and
a conditional draft pick from the New York Rangers in exchange for
Fedor Fedorov.

Balej, 23, joins the Canucks after spending the 2004-05 season with
Hartford of the AHL. In Hartford, Balej scored 20 goals and 22 assists
for a total of 42 points in 69 games played. Prior to the lockout,
Balej was with the New York Rangers for 13 games, recording five
points (1-4-5) and four penalty minutes.

In 2002, Balej was honoured with the distinction of being named a WHL
West First All-Star.

The 6-foot, 190-pound winger was born in Myjava, Slovakia on February
22, 1982. Balej was selected by the Montreal Canadiens in the third
round, 78th overall of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft.

Oilers sign prospect Rob Schremp

A member of Team USA at the 2005 IIHF World Championship in North
Dakota, Schremp has scored 97-142-239 in 190 career games in the OHL
over the last three seasons.

EDMONTON (CP) -- The Edmonton Oilers signed forward Rob Schremp to a
three-year contract Friday.

The five-foot-11, 200-pound Schremp was Edmonton's second pick in the
first round of the 2004 NHL entry draft. The 19-year-old American had
a goal in six pre-season games with Edmonton before being returned to
the OHL's London Knights.

"We are pleased to sign Rob to his first NHL contract," Oilers
assistant GM Scott Howson said in a statement. "He had an outstanding
training camp with us and we're looking forward to him playing a part
in the future success of the Oilers."

Schremp had 41 goals and 49 assists last season with London. He added
13 goals and 16 assists in the playoffs as the Knights captured both
the OHL title as well as the Memorial Cup.

Schremp has 97 goals and 142 points in 190 career OHL games.

Kovalchuk re-signs in Atlanta

Barring any immigration issues, the Thrashers expect their star
forward to be in the lineup as early as Wednesday. -- Ilya Kovalchuk is staying in Atlanta after all.

Sportsnet has learned that the Thrashers and Kovalchuk have agreed on
a 5-year deal worth 32.5 million dollars.

After Kovalchuk's agent Jay Grossman and Atlanta general manager Don
Waddell spent all day Friday in negotiations, an agreement was finally
reached, with final details to be ironed out on the weekend.

It was believed that Kovalchuk was looking for close to $7 million a
season over five years while the Thrashers were offering $5.5 million.
The winger had said he intended to go to his hometown Russia on Sunday
if a deal wasn't worked out and would have played in the Russian Super
League, possibly as early as next week.

Now barring any immigration issues, Atlanta expects their star to be
in the lineup as early as Wednesday.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Lindros and Allison have the chance to step up and shine

Sure it’s only one game into the season, but if Sundin is out for October, then this is the perfect time for Lindros and show us that still is a dominant force in the NHL. Also, Allison has to show that he still has it. With Sundin out, it puts these two oft-injured pivots in the number 1 and 2 positions.

One game into the season and the injury bug has already taken a bite out of the Maple Leafs top line, as both Mats Sundin and Jeff O'Neill received some bad news on Thursday.

TORONTO (CP) -- Toronto Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin has a fractured lower orbital bone and could be out four-to-six weeks after taking a puck in the face in Wednesday's season opener, the NHL team said Thursday.

Sundin lasted just seven minutes of the 4-3 shootout loss to the Ottawa Senators when he was hit in the face by the puck.

Sundin, who was not at practice Thursday, has an unfortunate track record with face injuries, suffering both cuts and dental damage in past incidents.

Sundin's injury was not the only bad news the Leafs received during Thursday's morning skate, newcomer Jeff O'Neill injured his shoulder in the third period of the loss to Ottawa when he fell into netminder Dominik Hasek. The extent of the injury is not known at this time but the Leafs' forward is questionable for Friday's skate.

Crosby gets point in debut

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (CP) - Sidney Crosby's NHL debut was bittersweet.
The 18-year-old Pittsburgh Penguins forward had an assist, but the New Jersey Devils spoiled Crosby's highly anticipated first game with a convincing 5-1 win to open the 2005-06 season.
Crosby set up Pittsburgh's first goal of the season, and their lone goal of the game, at 5:36 of the third period. He stepped out from the corner and feathered the puck along the goal-line to Mark Recchi, who tucked it past the outstretched pad of Devils' goaltender Martin Brodeur for a power-play goal.
"It's nice to get a point. I don't want to look past that," Crosby said. "But you play to win every time you go out on the ice and we didn't get that done, so I don't know."
Crosby helped solve the Penguins' woes with a man advantage - Pittsburgh had gone 0-for-9 until that point - and wreck Brodeur's shutout bid.

Ovechkin shines in debut

WASHINGTON (AP) - His first NHL check was so fierce it dislodged a support beam. He refused to let his team lose, twice answering with goals less than 90 seconds after the opponents took the lead. And when his face appeared on the large scoreboard, he stuck out his tongue and flashed a charismatic smile.
''I feel my dreams come true,'' Alexander Ovechkin said. ''I play in the NHL. First game, we win.''
The 20-year-old Russian, who has often been compared to a young Mario Lemieux, became the first Washington Capitals player to score twice in his NHL debut, leading a 3-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday night in the league's first game at the MCI Center in 550 days.
''He was worth the admission tonight,'' Columbus coach Gerard Gallant said. ''He was real good.''
The Capitals welcomed a crowd of 16,325 fans - some still feeling jilted over the lockout that wiped out a season - to the 18,277-seat arena with a pre-game street festival and an opening ceremony that looked like something out of the Olympic Games. The theme intertwined the return of hockey with the creation of the universe, and the players skated onto the ice carrying glowing, plastic torches.
''I am so excited for things to be back - last year was horrible,'' said face-painted fan Amber Turbyne of Waldorf, Md. ''I usually hold a grudge like something awful, but I'm too happy to have hockey back.''
The fans will be more excited now that they've seen what Ovechkin can do.
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2004 draft wasted no time making his presence known. On his first shift, 40 seconds into the game, he sideswiped Radoslav Suchy into the boards behind the Columbus net with such force that a beam fell to the ice. The game was delayed for a couple of minutes while it was replaced.
''The first check he threw to start the game, I said, 'That's my boy. That's what we want,''' said Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, who is counting on Ovechkin to help lure fans in a city that had trouble embracing hockey even before the sport's labour troubles began. ''We want our star players to work hard and be a part of the team. Every time we got down, he answered, and that's what superstars do.''
Dainius Zubrus also scored for the Capitals, and new captain Jeff Halpern had three assists in a game that included 18 penalties and plenty of flow with the new offensive-minded rules. All five goals came in a 10-minute span in the second period.
''With the new rules and the speed of the players and the way that the game was officiated tonight, if that's the way it's going to be, then goodness gracious - it's an exciting game out there,'' Washington coach Glen Hanlon said.
Dan Fritsche scored both goals for Columbus, twice as many as he had as a rookie before the lockout. Rich Nash, the Blue Jackets' emerging star, aggravated a sprained ankle and did not play in the third period.
Ovechkin's jarring check was the one and only highlight of a dull first period that made it seem as if hockey should've stayed away, but he and fellow 20-year-old Fritsche brought the game to life in the second period.
Fritsche took advantage of the new rule that allows the two-line pass by getting the puck from Gilbert Brule, then easily beating defenceman Mathieu Biron to the puck to score.
Ovechkin responded 23 seconds later, stroking a one-timer from Halpern that beat goaltender Pascal Leclaire on the stick side. Ovechkin raised both hands and dropped to one knee as he was mugged by teammates.
Fritsche put in a rebound to make it 2-1 with the teams skating four-on-four three minutes later, but Ovechkin then tied the score again, knocking home a cross-crease pass from Halpern on a power play.
Leonsis was sitting with Ovechkin's family. His mother, a former basketball star, muttered something in Russian after the second goal.
''I asked the brother, `What did she say?''' Leonsis said. ''She said `I'm proud of him, but we have to win the game.' I'm like, `That's exactly the way to do it.'''
Halpern threaded another pass for his third assist, slotting the puck between a defenceman's legs for Zubrus on a power play. The goal turned out to be the game-winner, with both teams wasting multiple power-play chances in a scoreless third period.
''We win this game, and I scored the goals,'' Ovechkin said. ''And I'm very happy.''

Sundin injured in opener

TORONTO (CP) - Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin got to play only the first seven minutes of the team's 88th NHL home opener Wednesday night.
Sundin suffered a cut around his left eye after being hit by puck on an attempted clear-in by Ottawa's Bryan Smolinski.
Sundin immediately dropped his gloves upon being struck and slumped to his knees with his face in his hands. With help, the Maple Leafs' captain made his way to the dressing room. He was taken to hospital for examination.
After the Leafs lost 3-2 in a shootout, Leafs coach Pat Quinn said he was told by doctors that no damage was done to the eyeball.
"I don't know how to predict the time frame," Quinn replied when asked how long the veteran Swedish centre would be out of the lineup. "We'll find out in the next day or two."

Big E shows a glimpse of what he is capable of

TORONTO (CP) - For 39 seconds Eric Lindros had himself a storybook entry as a Maple Leaf, scoring what 19,452 rabid fans thought for sure was the winning goal with 1:31 left in the third period of Toronto's season opener Wednesday night.
The goal capped a magical pair of shifts in which he levelled Ottawa Senators centre Mike Fisher and drew a penalty after Chris Neil cross-checked him to retaliate.
But, just like his topsy-turvy career, it was too good to be true. Daniel Alfredsson scored with 1:02 left in the third and his Senators won it the NHL's first-ever shootout.
"I could have been," Lindros responded when asked about his nearly perfect night. "But it's done and over and we look forward to Saturday."
Lindros, playing his first regular-season game as a Leaf after signing a $1.55-million US, one-year deal in August, had another chance to provide heroics but missed the net in the shootout when he tried to beat Sens goalie Dominik Hasek glove-hand to the top corner.
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"It didn't feel too good when you can't even send out your third guy to shoot," Lindros said, referring to the fact Ottawa won the shootout before a third Leaf could even be sent out. "I missed the net and you can't score unless you hit the net."
Make it 2-for-2 for Hasek on Lindros in shootout attempts, the first one a little more memorable when Lindros grazed the crossbar with a backhand shot in Canada's stunning semifinal loss to the Czech Republic at the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano.
"I'm not even going there," Lindros said before leaving reporters, refusing to delve into the past.<
Still, for opening acts, Lindros was a good one. He was a physical force all night long and was second on the team with five shots on goal. He started the game on the third line between Tie Domi and Chad Kilger but got promoted as head coach Pat Quinn shuffled his lines after Mats Sundin was knocked out with an eye injury.<
Lindros responded well to the extra ice time, leading all Leaf forwards with 24 minutes 52 seconds.
"I thought from shift to shift that he was very good tonight," said Quinn. "It's the kind of consistency you like to see and the level he played at. He did really well tonight, he played a very strong game. If that continues, and I'm certain that it will, we like what we have here."
Lindros didn't exactly impress anyone during the pre-season but obviously had a another gear when the puck dropped for real Wednesday.
"He's a great addition to our hockey team," said Leafs centre Matt Stajan. "He scored that big goal near the end but it just didn't fall our way. But he played great and I think you're going to see that from him all year."
The 32-year-old Lindros was the best player on the New York Rangers in 2003-04 before yet another concussion knocked him out that year. But a year off thanks to the lockout may have given him the kind of time he needed to fully recuperate and Leaf fans may benefit this season.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

2005-2006 NHL Opening Day Starting Rosters

NEW YORK (October 4, 2005) -- Following are opening-day rosters for
all 30 NHL clubs, as submitted to the League by today's 3 p.m., ET,

Mighty Ducks of Anaheim
Kip Brennan, F; Ilya Bryzgalov, G; Keith Carney, D; Joe Dipenta, D;
Sergei Fedorov, F; Todd Fedoruk, F; Ryan Getzlaf, F; Jean-Sebastien
Giguere, G; Jonathan Hedstrom, F; Joffrey Lupul, F; Jason Marshall, D;
Andy McDonald, F; Travis Moen, F; Rob Niedermayer, F; Scott
Niedermayer, D; Sandis Ozolinsh, D; Samuel Pahlsson, F; Dustin Penner,
F; Corey Perry, F; Ruslan Salei, D; Teemu Selanne, F; Petr Sykora, F;
Vitaly Vishnevski, D.

Injury Reserve List: none.

Atlanta Thrashers
Serge Aubin, F; Peter Bondra, F; Eric Boulton, F; Braydon Coburn, D;
Greg De Vries, D; Mike Dunham, G; Niclas Havelid, D; Bobby Holik, F;
Marian Hossa, F; Tomas Kloucek, D; Vyacheslav Kozlov, F; Chris Kunitz,
F; Brad Larsen, F; Kari Lehtonen, G; Francis Lessard, F; Scott
Mellanby, F; Jaroslav Modry, D; Ronald Petrovicky, F; Marc Savard, F;
Jim Slater, F; Patrik Stefan, F; Andy Sutton, D; J.P. Vigier, F.

Injury Reserve List: Garnet Exelby, D; Shane Hnidy, D.

Boston Bruins
Andrew Alberts, D; P.J. Axelsson, F; Patrice Bergeron, F; Brad Boyes,
F; Kevin Dallman, D; Tom Fitzgerald, F; Hal Gill, D; Travis Green, F;
Brad Isbister, F; Milan Jurcina, D; Patrick Leahy, F; Brian Leetch, D;
Shawn McEachern, F; Ian Moran, D; Glen Murray, F; Colton Orr, F;
Andrew Raycroft, G; Sergei Samsonov, F; Jiri Slegr, D; Joe Thornton,
F; Hannu Toivonen, G; Alexei Zhamnov, F.

Injury Reserve List: Dave Scatchard, F.

Buffalo Sabres
Maxim Afinogenov, F; Martin Biron, G; Daniel Briere, F; Brian
Campbell, D; Tim Connolly, F; Chris Drury, F; J.P. Dumont, F; Rory
Fitzpatrick, D; Paul Gaustad, F; Mike Grier, F; Jochen Hecht, F; Jeff
Jillson, D; Dmitri Kalinin, D; Ales Kotalik, F; Toni Lydman, D; Jay
McKee, D; Ryan Miller, G; Mika Noronen, G; Teppo Numminen, D; Taylor
Pyatt, F; Henrik Tallinder, D; Thomas Vanek, F.

Injury Reserve List: Adam Mair, F; Andrew Peters, F.

Calgary Flames
Tony Amonte, F; Shean Donovan, F; Andrew Ference, D; Roman Hamrlik, D;
Jarome Iginla, F; Miikka Kiprusoff, G; Chuck Kobasew, F; Daymond
Langkow, F; Jordan Leopold, D; Matthew Lombardi, F; Darren McCarty, F;
Steve Montador, D; Marcus Nilson, F; Dion Phaneuf, D; Steve
Reinprecht, F; Byron Ritchie, F; Philippe Sauve, G; Chris Simon, F;
Rhett Warrener, D; Jason Wiemer, F; Stephane Yelle, F.

Injury Reserve List: Brantt Myhres, F; Robyn Regehr, D.

Carolina Hurricanes
Kevyn Adams, F; Jesse Boulerice, F; Rod Brind'Amour, F; Erik Cole, F;
Mike Commodore, D; Matt Cullen, F; Martin Gerber, G; Bret Hedican, D;
Andrew Hutchinson, D; Frantisek Kaberle, D; Niklas Nordgren, F; Eric
Staal, F; Cory Stillman, F; Oleg Tverdovsky, D; Josef Vasicek, F;
Radim Vrbata, F; Niclas Wallin, D; Aaron Ward, D; Cam Ward, G; Glen
Wesley, D; Ray Whitney, F; Justin Williams, F; Michael Zigomanis, F.

Injury Reserve List: none.

Chicago Blackhawks
Craig Anderson, G; Tyler Arnason, F; Adrian Aucoin, D; Cam Barker, D;
Matthew Barnaby, F; Mark Bell, F; Rene Bourque, F; Curtis Brown, F;
Kyle Calder, F; Jassen Cullimore, D; Eric Daze, F; Jim Dowd, F; Matt
Ellison, F; Michael Holmqvist, F; Duncan Keith, D; Nikolai Khabibulin,
G; Martin Lapointe, F; Tuomo Ruutu, F; Brent Seabrook, D; Todd
Simpson, D; Jaroslav Spacek, D; Jim Vandermeer, D; Pavel Vorobiev, F.

Injury Reserve List: none.

Colorado Avalanche
David Aebischer, G; Rob Blake, D; Bob Boughner, D; Patrice Brisebois,
D; Andrew Brunette, F; Peter Budaj, G; Brett Clark, D; Milan Hejduk,
F; Dan Hinote, F; Steve Konowalchuk, F; Antti Laaksonen, F; Ian
Laperriere, F; John-Michael Liles, D; Brad May, F; Brett McLean, F;
Joe Sakic, F; Kurt Sauer, D; Karlis Skrastins, D; Marek Svatos, F;
Alex Tanguay, F; Pierre Turgeon, F; Ossi Vaananen, D; Wojtek Wolski,

Injury Reserve List: none.

Columbus Blue Jackets
Jaroslav Balastik, F; Francois Beauchemin, D; Bryan Berard, D; Gilbert
Brule, F; Andy Delmore, D; Marc Denis, G; Adam Foote, D; Dan Fritsche,
F; Jan Hrdina, F; Pascal Leclaire, G; Trevor Letowski, F; Manny
Malhotra, F; Todd Marchant, F; Rick Nash, F; Martin Prusek, G; Luke
Richardson, D; Geoff Sanderson, F; Jody Shelley, F; Radoslav Suchy, D;
David Vyborny, F; Duvie Westcott, D; Tyler Wright, F; Nikolai Zherdev,

Injury Reserve List: Rostislav Klesla, D.

Dallas Stars
Jason Arnott, F; Stu Barnes, F; Philippe Boucher, D; Garrett Burnett,
F; Trevor Daley, D; John Erskine, D; Bill Guerin, F; Johan Hedberg, G;
Jussi Jokinen, F; Niko Kapanen, F; Jon Klemm, D; Jere Lehtinen, F;
Antti Miettinen, F; Mike Modano, F; Brenden Morrow, F; David Oliver,
F; Steve Ott, F; Stephane Robidas, D; Martin Skoula, D; Jaroslav
Svoboda, F; Marty Turco, G; Sergei Zubov, D.

Injury Reserve List: Mathias Tjarnqvist, F.

Detroit Red Wings
Chris Chelios, D; Dan Cleary, F; Pavel Datsyuk, F; Kris Draper, F;
Jiri Fischer, D; Johan Franzen, F; Tomas Holmstrom, F; James Howard,
G; Robert Lang, F; Brett Lebda, D; Manny Legace, G; Nicklas Lidstrom,
D; Andreas Lilja, D; Kirk Maltby, F; Mark Mowers, F; Chris Osgood, G;
Jamie Rivers, D; Mikael Samuelsson, F; Mathieu Schneider, D; Brendan
Shanahan, F; Jason Williams, F; Steve Yzerman, F; Henrik Zetterberg,

Injury Reserve List: Niklas Kronvall, D.

Edmonton Oilers
Marc-Andre Bergeron, D; Ty Conklin, G; Cory Cross, D; Radek Dvorak, F;
Todd Harvey, F; Ales Hemsky, F; Shawn Horcoff, F; Georges Laraque, F;
Ethan Moreau, F; Mike Morrison, G; Michael Peca, F; Fernando Pisani,
F; Chris Pronger, D; Marty Reasoner, F; Jani Rita, F; Alexei Semenov,
D; Dan Smith, D; Jason Smith, D; Ryan Smyth, F; Steve Staios, D;
Jarret Stoll, F; Raffi Torres, F; Brad Winchester, F.

Injury Reserve List: J.J. Hunter, F; Igor Ulanov, D.

Florida Panthers
Jay Bouwmeester, D; Eric Cairns, D; Martin Gelinas, F; Chris Gratton,
F; Niklas Hagman, F; Sean Hill, D; Nathan Horton, F; Kristian
Huselius, F; Olli Jokinen, F; Alexander Karpovtsev, D; Juraj Kolnik,
F; Lukas Krajicek, D; Joel Kwiatkowski, D; Roberto Luongo, G; Jamie
McLennan, G; Branislav Mezei, D; Joe Nieuwendyk, F; Rostislav Olesz,
F; Serge Payer, F; Gary Roberts, F; Jozef Stumpel, F; Mike Van Ryn, D;
Stephen Weiss, F.

Injury Reserve List: none.

Los Angeles Kings
Derek Armstrong, F; Sean Avery, F; Eric Belanger, F; Ken Belanger, F;
Dustin Brown, F; Mike Cammalleri, F; Craig Conroy, F; Joe Corvo, D;
Jeff Cowan, F; Pavol Demitra, F; Nathan Dempsey, D; Alexander Frolov,
F; Mathieu Garon, G; Tim Gleason, D; Denis Grebeshkov, D; Tom
Kostopoulos, F; Jason Labarbera, G; Aaron Miller, D; George Parros, F;
Luc Robitaille, F; Jeremy Roenick, F; Lubomir Visnovsky, D; Mike
Weaver, D.

Injury Reserve List: Valeri Bure, F; Mattias Norstrom, D; Richard Petiot, D.

Minnesota Wild
Derek Boogaard, F; Pierre-Marc Bouchard, F; Brent Burns, F; Marc
Chouinard, F; Alexandre Daigle, F; Pascal Dupuis, F; Scott Ferguson,
D; Manny Fernandez, G; Matt Foy, F; Alex Henry, D; Filip Kuba, D;
Willie Mitchell, D; Andrei Nazarov, F; Randy Robitaille, F; Dwayne
Roloson, G; Brian Rolston, F; Nick Schultz, D; Daniel Tjarnqvist, D;
Stephane Veilleux, F; Wes Walz, F; Kyle Wanvig, F; Todd White, F;
Andrei Zyuzin, D.

Injury Reserve List: Marian Gaborik, F; Mikko Koivu, F.

Montreal Canadiens
Steve Begin, F; Radek Bonk, F; Francis Bouillon, D; Jan Bulis, F;
Pierre Dagenais, F; Mathieu Dandenault, D; Yann Danis, G; Chris
Higgins, F; Raitis Ivanans, D; Saku Koivu, F; Mike Komisarek, D; Alex
Kovalev, F; Andrei Markov, D; Alexander Perezhogin, F; Tomas Plekanec,
F; Mike Ribeiro, F; Craig Rivet, D; Michael Ryder, F; Sheldon Souray,
D; Mark Streit, D; Niklas Sundstrom, F; Jose Theodore, G; Richard
Zednik, F.

Injury Reserve List: none.

Nashville Predators
Jamie Allison, D; Mark Eaton, D; Martin Erat, F; Vernon Fiddler, F;
Simon Gamache, F; Adam Hall, F; Dan Hamhuis, D; Scott Hartnell, F;
Darcy Hordichuk, F; Greg Johnson, F; Paul Kariya, F; David Legwand, F;
Danny Markov, D; Chris Mason, G; Yanic Perreault, F; Jeremy Stevenson,
F; Steve Sullivan, F; Ryan Suter, D; Kimmo Timonen, D; Jordin Tootoo,
F; Tomas Vokoun, G; Scott Walker, F; Marek Zidlicky, D.

Injury Reserve List: Scott Nichol, F.

New Jersey Devils
Martin Brodeur, G; Sean Brown, D; Sergei Brylin, F; Scott Clemmensen,
G; Brian Gionta, F; Scott Gomez, F; Viktor Kozlov, F; Darren Langdon,
F; Jamie Langenbrunner, F; John Madden, F; Vladimir Malakhov, D; Grant
Marshall, F; Paul Martin, D; Richard Matvichuk, D; Daniel McGillis, D;
Alexander Mogilny, F; Krzysztof Oliwa, F; Jay Pandolfo, F; Zach
Parise, F; Brian Rafalski, D; Erik Rasmussen, F; Pascal Rheaume, F;
Colin White, D.

Injury Reserve List: none.

New York Islanders
Arron Asham, F; Shawn Bates, F; Jason Blake, F; Chris Campoli, D; Rick
DiPietro, G; Eric Godard, F; Trent Hunter, F; Oleg Kvasha, F; Brad
Lukowich, D; Radek Martinek, D; Janne Niinimaa, D; Robert Nilsson, F;
Petteri Nokelainen, F; Mark Parrish, F; Tomi Pettinen, D; Miroslav
Satan, F; Garth Snow, G; Brent Sopel, D; Mattias Weinhandl, F; Alexei
Yashin, F; Michael York, F; Alexei Zhitnik, D.

Injury Reserve List: none.

New York Rangers
Blair Betts, F; Ryan Hollweg, F; Marcel Hossa, F; Jaromir Jagr, F;
Darius Kasparaitis, D; Maxim Kondratiev, D; Jamie Lundmark, F; Henrik
Lundqvist, G; Marek Malik, D; Dominic Moore, F; Michael Nylander, F;
Jed Ortmeyer, F; Tom Poti, D; Petr Prucha, F; Dale Purinton, D; Michal
Rozsival, D; Steve Rucchin, F; Martin Rucinsky, F; Martin Straka, F;
Jason Strudwick, D; Fedor Tyutin, D; Jason Ward, F; Kevin Weekes, G.

Injury Reserve List: Ville Nieminen, F.

Ottawa Senators
Daniel Alfredsson, F; Brandon Bochenski, F; Zdeno Chara, D; Ray Emery,
G; Mike Fisher, F; Dominik Hasek, G; Martin Havlat, F; Dany Heatley,
F; Chris Kelly, F; Brian McGrattan, F; Andrej Meszaros, D; Chris Neil,
F; Chris Phillips, D; Brian Pothier, D; Wade Redden, D; Peter
Schaefer, F; Christoph Schubert, D; Bryan Smolinski, F; Jason Spezza,
F; Antoine Vermette, F; Anton Volchenkov, D.

Injury Reserve List: Vaclav Varada, F.

Philadelphia Flyers
Donald Brashear, F; Jeff Carter, F; Eric Desjardins, D; Robert Esche,
G; Peter Forsberg, F; Simon Gagne, F; Michal Handzus, F; Derian
Hatcher, D; Kim Johnsson, D; Mike Knuble, F; Antero Niittymaki, G;
Joni Pitkanen, D; Keith Primeau, F; Branko Radivojevic, F; Mike
Rathje, D; Mike Richards, F; Brian Savage, F; Dennis Seidenberg, D;
Patrick Sharp, F; Jon Sim, F; Turner Stevenson, F; Chris Therien, D.

Injury Reserve List: Ryan Ready, F; Sami Kapanen, F; Freddy Meyer, D.

Phoenix Coyotes
Keith Ballard, D; Mike Comrie, F; Boyd Devereaux, F; Shane Doan, F;
Denis Gauthier, D; Brett Hull, F; Cale Hulse, D; Mike Johnson, F;
Curtis Joseph, G; Krys Kolanos, F; Mike Leclerc, F; David Leneveu, G;
Paul Mara, D; Zbynek Michalek, D; Derek Morris, D; Tyson Nash, F; Petr
Nedved, F; Sean O'Donnell, D; Mike Ricci, F; Mike Rupp, F; Oleg
Saprykin, F; Jeff Taffe, F; David Tanabe, D.

Injury Reserve List: Jason Chimera, F; Ladislav Nagy, F; Fredrik
Sjostrom, F; Brian Boucher, G.

Pittsburgh Penguins
Sebastien Caron, G; Sidney Crosby, F; Rico Fata, F; Sergei Gonchar, D;
Ric Jackman, D; Konstantin Koltsov, F; John LeClair, F; Mario Lemieux,
F; Ryan Malone, F; Josef Melichar, D; Matt Murley, F; Lyle Odelein, D;
Brooks Orpik, D; Zigmund Palffy, F; Lasse Pirjeta, F; Steve Poapst, D;
Mark Recchi, F; Andre Roy, F; Rob Scuderi, D; Maxime Talbot, F; Dick
Tarnstrom, D; Jocelyn Thibault, G; Ryan Vandenbussche, F.

Injury Reserve List: Shane Endicott, F.

St. Louis Blues
Christian Backman, D; Eric Brewer, D; Petr Cajanek, F; Reinhard Divis,
G; Aaron Downey, F; Dallas Drake, F; Jeff Hoggan, F; Ryan Johnson, F;
Patrick Lalime, G; Jamal Mayers, F; Dean McAmmond, F; Jay McClement,
F; Andy Roach, D; Mark Rycroft, F; Bryce Salvador, D; Mike Sillinger,
F; Lee Stempniak, F; Keith Tkachuk, F; Matt Walker, D; Eric Weinrich,
D; Trent Whitfield, F; Jeff Woywitka, D; Scott Young, F.

Injury Reserve List: Doug Weight, F; Barret Jackman, D.

San Jose Sharks
Jonathan Cheechoo, F; Ryane Clowe, F; Rob Davison, D; Niko Dimitrakos,
F; Christian Ehrhoff, D; Nils Ekman, F; Jim Fahey, D; Marcel Goc, F;
Josh Gorges, D; Scott Hannan, D; Josh Langfeld, F; Patrick Marleau, F;
Alyn McCauley, F; Kyle McLaren, D; Milan Michalek, F; Evgeni Nabokov,
G; Tom Preissing, D; Wayne Primeau, F; Mark Smith, F; Brad Stuart, D;
Marco Sturm, F; Scott Thornton, F; Vesa Toskala, G.

Injury Reserve List: Scott Parker, F.

Tampa Bay Lightning
Dimitri Afanasenkov, F; Dave Andreychuk, F; Dan Boyle, D; Sean Burke,
G; Martin Cibak, F; Rob DiMaio, F; Chris Dingman, F; Ruslan Fedotenko,
F; John Grahame, G; Timo Helbling, D; Pavel Kubina, D; Vincent
Lecavalier, F; Fredrik Modin, F; Nolan Pratt, D; Vaclav Prospal, F;
Brad Richards, F; Cory Sarich, D; Martin St. Louis, F; Darryl Sydor,
D; Tim Taylor, F.

Injury Reserve List: none.

Toronto Maple Leafs
Jason Allison, F; Nik Antropov, F; Wade Belak, D; Ed Belfour, G; Aki
Berg, D; Mariusz Czerkawski, F; Tie Domi, F; Tomas Kaberle, D;
Alexander Khavanov, D; Chad Kilger, F; Eric Lindros, F; Bryan McCabe,
D; Jeff O'Neill, F; Nathan Perrott, F; Alexei Ponikarovsky, F; Matt
Stajan, F; Alexander Steen, F; Mats Sundin, F; Mikael Tellqvist, G;
Darcy Tucker, F; Clarke Wilm, F; Andy Wozniewski, D.

Injury Reserve List: Ken Klee, D.

Vancouver Canucks
Bryan Allen, D; Alexander Auld, G; Nolan Baumgartner, D; Todd
Bertuzzi, F; Tyler Bouck, F; Wade Brookbank, D; Anson Carter, F; Dan
Cloutier, G; Matt Cooke, F; Lee Goren, F; Ed Jovanovski, D; Ryan
Kesler, F; Trevor Linden, F; Steve McCarthy, D; Brendan Morrison, F;
Markus Naslund, F; Mattias Ohlund, D; Richard Park, F; Jarkko Ruutu,
F; Sami Salo, D; Daniel Sedin, F; Henrik Sedin, F.

Injury Reserve List: none.

Washington Capitals
Mathieu Biron, D; Matt Bradley, F; Andrew Cassels, F; Ben Clymer, F;
Steve Eminger, D; Jeff Friesen, F; Boyd Gordon, F; Jeff Halpern, F;
Jamie Heward, D; Brent Johnson, G; Olaf Kolzig, G; Shaone Morrisonn,
D; Bryan Muir, D; Maxime Ouellet, G; Alexander Ovechkin, F; Stephen
Peat, F; Matt Pettinger, F; Brian Sutherby, F; Petr Sykora, F; Brian
Willsie, F; Brendan Witt, D; Nolan Yonkman, D; Dainius Zubrus, F.

Injury Reserve List: Chris Clark, F.

2005 - 2006 Predictions from and Me

And here are mine based on the same format:

Stanley Cup Teams: Philadelphia v/s Vancouver
Top Scorer: Markus Naslund (or Mario Lemieux if he plays > 65 games)
Calder: Alexander Ovechkin
Hart: Jarome Iginla
Norris: Scott Niedermayer
Vezina: Thomas Vokoun
Jack-Adams: Barry Trotz (Nashville)
Will miss playoffs: Colorado and New Jersey
Disappointment & Surprise (Teams): Detroit and Nashville
Disappointment & Surprise (Players): Gary Roberts and Paul Kariya
Don't believe the hype (Teams): Florida
Don't believe the hype (Players): That Lindros is now a washed-up 4th liner, he'll prove us wrong
New Rivalries: FLO and TB, StL and EDM
No. of wins in PHX: 30

Garon not a lock as King's No. 1 goalie

L.A. Kings coach Andy Murray said goalie Mathieu Garon isn't a lock for the No. 1 spot.Garon and Jason LaBarbera will split Wednesday's opener in Dallas and Thursday's home opener against Phoenix, Murray told the L.A. Times. That, in part, was because the Kings play on consecutive nights. But, he added, "I have never said anyone was the No. 1 goaltender. We're going to play the best one."

Fedor Fedorov wants out of Vancouver

Fedor Fedorov's career in Vancouver may be over before it really had a chance to start.According to the Vancouver Sun, the Vancouver Canucks have offered Fedorov a two-way contract, something Fedorov and his agent J.P. Barry want no part of."We want a one-way and if they want a two-way and we want a one-way that doesn't work," Barry told the Vancouver Sun. "They have to explore all of their options." If the Canucks don't trade Fedorov, Barry said his client likely will return to play in the Russian Super League. Fedorov has a contract with Magnitogorsk Melallorg, a team in southwest Siberia, which Barry says is worth in excess of $500,000.

Winnipeg 'pegged' as No. 1 expansion location

With the new world order in the NHL, would it be possible for a team to survive in Winnipeg?Sports business analyst Howard Bloom of thinks so."If I were to pick the top-5 places to relocate a team, I would put Winnipeg at No. 1. They have an arena, it's a traditional hockey market and they have enough corporate support to make it work," Bloom told the Winnipeg Sun.But Bloom also says it's not a lock as there would be stiff competition from at least five other cities including Houston, Oklahoma City, Kansas City and Portland.

Alfredsson keeps 'C'

OTTAWA - The Ottawa Senators named their team captains for the 2005-06 season - Daniel Alfredsson, Wade Redden and Zdeno Chara.
Wearing the team captain's C is 10-year NHL veteran and Senator Daniel Alfredsson. The 32-year-old right-winger has been the Senators captain for the past six seasons, first being named on Oct. 2, 1999.Along with Alfredsson, defenceman Wade Redden was first selected as an alternate captain for the 1999-2000 season. The 28-year-old is in his seventh season as a team captain and tenth with the Senators and in the NHL.Zdeno Chara begins his first season wearing a full-time A on his jersey, having donned the letter on occasion during previous seasons. The 28-year-old defenceman is in his fifth season in Ottawa and ninth in the NHL.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Leafs send Colaiacovo down to minors

The Toronto Maple Leafs have sent down a pair of young defencemen.

The team announced on Monday that Carlo Colaiacovo and Staffan
Kronwall have been assigned to the Toronto Marlies of the American
Hockey League.

Colaiacovo appeared in four of the eight Leafs' preseason games and
scored one assist. He was hobbled recently by an ankle injury.

Kronwall appeared in five games and collected two assists. The
youngster caused a stir early in training camp when he leveled Eric
Lindros with a body check.

News around the league

In other NHL moves Monday:

-- Edmonton sent American centre Rob Schremp back to London of the OHL
and assigned his former Knights teammate Danny Syvret, a defenceman
from Millgrove, Ont., to Hamilton.

-- The Maple Leafs assigned defencemen Carlo Colaiacovo of Toronto and
Swede Staphan Kronvall to the AHL's Toronto Marlies.

-- Ottawa sent winger Denis Hamel of Lachute, Que., to the AHL's
Binghamton Senators, pending waiver clearance on Tuesday.

-- The Calgary Flames assigned six players to the AHL's Omaha
Ak-Sar-Ben Knights. Forwards Lynn Loyns of Naicam, Sask., Brantt
Myhres of Edmonton and Eric Nystrom were demoted, as were defencemen
Richie Regehr and Mark Girdano and goalie Brent Krahn of Winnipeg.

-- Boston assigned centre Ben Walter of Beaconsfield, Que., and
American goalie Tim Thomas to the AHL's Providence Bruins. Boston
starts the season with another Orr. Rugged right-winger Colton Orr of
Winnipeg, no relation to Hockey Hall of Famer Bobby Orr, has made the

-- Anaheim named Edmonton-born defenceman Scott Niedermayer captain.
It also acquired defenceman Bruno St. Jacques of Montreal from
Carolina for right-winger Craig Adams of Calgary.

-- Detroit released forwards Rem Murray of Stratford, Ont., and
Americans Dan LaCouture and Blake Sloan. That left Newfoundlander Dan
Cleary among forwards set to start the season.

-- Buffalo assigned forward Derek Roy of Ottawa to the AHL's Rochester
Americans and placed Jason Pominville of Repentigny, Que., Milan
Bartovic and Doug Janik on waivers. If any of those players go
unclaimed, they will also be sent to Rochester on Tuesday.

-- Nashville assigned forwards Randy Robitaille of Ottawa, Jerred
Smithson of Vernon, B.C., and Scottie Upshall of Fort McMurray, Alta.,
and defenceman Greg Zanon of Burnaby, B.C., to the AHL's Milwaukee
Admirals. Meanwhile, veteran centre Yannic Perreault of Sherbrooke,
Que., remains with the team after attending training camp on a tryout

-- Dallas assigned Swedish centre Yared Hagos, right-winger Junior
Lessard of St-Joseph-de-Beauce, Que., and Czechoslovakia-born
left-winger Vojtech Polak to the AHL's Iowa Stars. Swedish left-winger
Mathias Tjarnqvist (ankle) was placed on injured reserve.

-- Colorado assigned goaltender Vitaly Kolesnik to the AHL's Lowell
Lock Monsters. Centre Jason Krog of Fernie, B.C., was released from
his tryout contract by the Avalanche while Brett McLean of Comox,
B.C., was placed on waivers.

-- The New York Rangers assigned Montreal native Joe Rullier and
Jarkko Immonen to the AHL's Hartford Wolf Pack.

-- The New York Islanders sent Sean Bergenheim to their AHL affiliate
in Bridgeport, Conn. GM Mike Milbury had toyed with keeping the Finn
as a 13th forward.

"Prospects need to play," said Milbury. "He'll get plenty of ice time
(with the Sound Tigers) and I'm sure we'll see him soon."

-- Phoenix assigned American defenceman Matt Jones to the AHL's San
Antonio Rampage.

-- Los Angeles sent American left-winger Jeff Giuliano to the AHL's
Manchester Monarchs.

-- Veteran defenceman Curtis Leschyshyn retired. Leschyshyn, 36,
helped the Colorado Avalanche win the Stanley Cup in 1996. He spent
his last three seasons with Ottawa and returned to Denver this year to
compete for a roster spot. The native of Thompson, Man., played more
than 1,000 games for six teams in his 16 big-league seasons.

Brule signs with Blue Jackets

While Columbus was putting pen to paper with the 18-year old Brule,
other clubs were busy making final roster cuts. -- The Columbus Blue Jackets intend to take a closer look
at teenage forward Gilbert Brule.

Sources tell Sportsnet the Blue Jackets have signed the rookie to an
entry-level contract that will allow the CHL star to earn as much as
$1.3 million this season.

Kovalchuk to meet GM this week in Atlanta

ATLANTA (AP) - Ilya Kovalchuk will be in Atlanta this week to see his
new daughter, and the Thrashers hope they can meet with their unsigned
star winger during his visit.

Kovalchuk, a restricted free agent, is threatening to play this season
in his native Russia if he can't agree on a contract with the
Thrashers. "I think things will start to shake out in the next little
while," general manager Don Waddell said Monday.

Kovalchuk almost certainly will miss the start of the season with the
Thrashers, who open Wednesday at Florida.

Kovalchuk tied Columbus' Rick Nash for the NHL lead with 41 goals in
the last season before the lockout. He also had 46 assists, finishing
32 points ahead of Atlanta's second-highest scorer.

His girlfriend delivered a girl this past weekend, according to
Waddell, and the player is scheduled to fly in Tuesday or Wednesday to
spend a week with his child. During that time, Waddell wants to meet
with the player.

"It wouldn't be so much to hammer out a deal," Waddell said. "I want
to explain to him where we're headed as a franchise. I know he wants
to play for a winning team. I think we've made good changes to do
that. I'd like to sit down and talk with him if possible."

Kovalchuk's agent, Jay Grossman, did not immediately return a telephone message.

The Thrashers, who have never made the playoffs, took advantage of
league's new salary cap to bring in plenty of help for Kovalchuk up
front. Bobby Holik and Peter Bondra were signed as free agents, and
Marian Hossa was acquired from Ottawa in a deal for Dany Heatley.

The team also expects to be much better defensively with newcomers
Jaroslav Modry, Niclas Havelid, Tomas Kloucek and former first-round
pick Braydon Coburn. In addition, top goaltending prospect Kari
Lehtonen is set to take over in the nets, backed up by Mike Dunham.

Waddell said the Thrashers are willing to give Kovalchuk a slightly
better deal than the one Nash got from the Blue Jackets: five years at
$27 million US.

"It's all about the money," Waddell said. "We've also discussed the
length of the deal, talked about different options."

The Thrashers are facing one crucial deadline. If Kovalchuk plays a
game in Russia after Wednesday, he would have to clear waivers to
return to Atlanta this season.

"Twenty-nine other teams would have to pass on him," Waddell said.
"That's never going to happen."

If Kovalchuk sits out games in Russia, he would have until Dec. 1 to
agree on a contract with the Thrashers to play in the NHL this season.

Leafs darkhorse playoff team in 05-06

TORONTO (CP) - Nobody outside their ardent fan base is picking them to
win the Stanley Cup so the Toronto Maple Leafs will cast themselves as
underdogs and bark as loud as they can.

"We love being the underdogs," says right-winger Tie Domi. "We're
excited about the challenge." There are lots of ifs. If free-agent
pickups Eric Lindros and Jason Allison can stay healthy .?.?.

If winger Jeff O'Neill can regain the 30-goal form that put him in the
2003 NHL all-star game .?.?.

If Nik Antropov can turn the boos to cheers .?.?.

If Ed Belfour's back holds up .?.?.

Most of these things have to fall in Toronto's favour if it is to
approach the team-record 103 points amassed in 2003-2004, and head
coach Pat Quinn knows it.

"I look at the guys on paper and I like what I see," says Quinn.

Ah, but the game is played on the ice.

"We're going to have to work hard to pull it together," Quinn admits,
proceeding to mention that the season will be a success IF players who
have been stars in the past can regain that status.

It is a tenuous hope.

Lindros couldn't lift the New York Rangers into the playoffs the last
time there was an NHL season. He appeared in only 39 games and scored
only 10 goals. His next concussion will be his ninth.

Allison didn't play at all in the last season because of a
whiplash-type neck injury, and he scored only six goals while getting
into only 26 games in 2002-2003.

O'Neill slumped to 14 goals last time out. Carolina practically gave him away.

The only returning forwards who scored as many 20 goals are captain
Mats Sundin (31) and Darcy Tucker (21). Gone are five of the top seven
point-getters - Gary Roberts, Joe Nieuwendyk, Alexander Mogilny, Brian
Leetch and Owen Nolan.

Quinn has patched together forward lines he hopes will provide a
balanced attack.

He likes Sundin between Antropov and Alexei Ponikarovsky, all of them
tall Europeans on what has been dubbed the Sky Line; Allison between
Tucker and free-agent acquisition Mariusz Czerkawski, a one-way
wonder; O'Neill with Matt Stajan and rookie Alexander Steen, two
speedsters with a big future upside; and Lindros with enforcer Tie
Domi and the ordinary Chad Kilger or whoever else is chosen for a
checking role.

The defence corps certainly won't be ranked among the best in the
conference: sturdy Bryan McCabe partnered with erratic Tomas Kaberle,
the never-improving Aki Berg with unheralded free-agent pickup
Alexander Khavanov, and penalty-prone Wade Belak with rookie Andy
Wozniewski. Steady veteran Ken Klee (foot) remains on the shelf.

The Northeast Division will be a battleground. Eight games - up from
six - against championship contender Ottawa, burly Boston, improved
Montreal and underestimated Buffalo.

All the ifs have to go in the Leafs' favour if they are to avoid
missing the playoffs for the first time since 1998.

They open at home Wednesday against Ottawa amid the usual unbridled optimism.

"I like our team," says captain Mats Sundin.

Well, what else is he going to say? But Sundin, like Quinn, puts an
asterisk on what lies ahead.

"When we have our full lineup playing, I think we can beat anyone in
our conference," he says. "So, I guess we just have to prove (the
negative predictions) wrong."

Reread the first seven words of his comment.

Sundin will be the highest-paid player on the team at $6.84 million
US, Belfour will be paid $4.56 million, McCabe $3.46 million, Kaberle
$2.28 million, Klee $1.9 million, Tucker $1.59 million, Lindros $1.55,
Allison and O'Neill $1.50 million each, and Domi and Khavanov $1.25
million each. Berg and Antropov are slightly over $1 million, and the
rest are under.

GM John Ferguson already is maxed out at the $39-million US cap limit,
which leaves no wiggle room.

This could be a contender, or, it could all quickly fall apart.

Fleury sent to minors

Pittsburgh selected Fleury first overall in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.

(CP) -- The Pittsburgh Penguins have decided to start the season with
one recent No. 1 pick on the team and another in the minors.

Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, the first selection in the 2003 draft, was
assigned to Wilkes-Barre of the AHL on Saturday while phenom Sidney
Crosby, the top pick of this year's entry draft, remained with the big
team as the Penguins finalized their season-opening roster.

Also assigned to Wilkes-Barre on Saturday were forwards Colby
Armstrong, Erik Christensen, Matt Hussey, Michel Ouellet and Tomas
Surovy and defencemen Daniel Fernholm, Ryan Lannon, Andy Schneider,
Noah Welch and Ryan Whitney.

"They are all tough decisions. Every year, it's a tough to make
decisions like that because you're dealing with people's livelihoods
and families," Penguins GM Craig Patrick said. "It's tough, but we can
only have 23 guys. Nobody likes it, but it's part of the game, part of
the business."

Fleury, who played 21 games for Pittsburgh as a 18-year-old rookie
2003-04, was beat out for the team's backup position by Sebastien
Caron. Jocelyn Thibault will be the team's No. 1 goalie.

The Penguins elected to send Fleury to the minors so that the native
of Sorel, Que., could get a lot of playing time instead of making spot
appearances in Pittsburgh.

"A lot of factors came into it. We looked at camp and we felt that
(Fleury) and Sebastien had pretty similar camps," Patrick said. "And
the role that's going to be needed here, we feel it's better for
Marc-Andre to get a lot of games (in Wilkes-Barre). That's a big part
of it."

However, Patrick didn't rule out the possibility of Fleury joining the
big club during the season.

"Winning is the bottom line so that will dictate who plays and who
doesn't play," Patrick said. "It's just the beginning of the season
and it's a long season and things change rapidly."

Crosby, the 18-year-old from Cole Harbour, N.S., will make his
long-awaited NHL debut this Wednesday when the Penguins open the
regular season in New Jersey.

Also on Saturday, the Nashville Predators assigned defencemen Kevin
Klein and Shea Weber Milwaukee of the AHL.

In St. Paul, Minn., the Wild recalled winger Matt Foy from Houston of
the AHL and assigned winger Benoit Pouliot to Sudbury of the Ontario
Hockey League.