Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Jeff Friesen traded to Capitals as Devils get under the Cap

WASHINGTON (AP) - Left wing Jeff Friesen was traded to the Washington
Capitals by the New Jersey Devils on Monday for a conditional 2006
draft pick.

The deal gives the Capitals a proven forward and allows the Devils to
trim salary so they can get under the NHL's new $39 million US cap.
Friesen is set to make $2.28 million this season.

''Jeff brings speed, Stanley Cup-winning experience and leadership to
our locker room,'' Capitals general manager George McPhee said. ''We
look forward to having him on our hockey club.''

New Jersey went an allowed amount over the salary cap when they signed
forward Alexander Mogilny last month but faced an Oct. 1 deadline to
get under the threshold.

The six-foot-one, 205-pound Friesen has 208 goals and 285 assists in
10 seasons for San Jose, Anaheim and New Jersey.
His best season was 1997-98 with the Sharks, when he scored 31 goals
and had 63 points. He has five 20-goal seasons.

In the 2003-04 season, Friesen had 17 goals and 20 assists in 81 games
for the Devils. A year earlier, he helped New Jersey win the Stanley
Cup, recording 10 goals and four assists in 24 post-season games.
Friesen scored the winning goals in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference
finals and Stanley Cup finals.

''It was a combination of things,'' Devils general manager Lou
Lamoriello said of the trade. ''His salary was certainly at a level
that was, quite frankly, too high. And we felt comfortable that we had
a good group of young players.

''We certainly appreciate what Jeff gave us. He was fantastic for his
whole tenure here.''

A first-round pick in 1994, Friesen made the NHL's all-rookie team
after making his debut with the Sharks.

-thanks to www.tsn.ca for report

Roenick hit hard with concussion

LOS ANGELES - Alexander Frolov's second power-play goal gave Los
Angeles the lead, and the Kings used a five-goal third period to beat
the Phoenix Coyotes 7-4 on Sunday night.

The Kings, who lost newly acquired all-star forward Jeremy Roenick due
to a concussion at 2:25 of the second period, also got goals from Eric
Belanger, Dustin Brown, Tom Kostopoulos and Steve Avery.

Oleg Saprykin scored twice on power plays for Phoenix, and Mike Comrie
and Tyson Nash had a goal apiece.

Trailing 4-2 after two periods, the Kings scored five unanswered goals
- including Frolov's second of the game, which put them ahead 5-4 with
Phoenix centre Mike Ruff serving a holding penalty.

Los Angeles left wing Noah Clarke was off for hooking when Saprykin
beat rookie goalie Mathieu Garon from short range at 14:12 of the
second period to put Phoenix ahead 3-2. Nash's gave the Coyotes a
two-goal margin less than 3½ minutes later.
Roenick was injured after carrying the puck up ice along the right
boards up ice and taking a hard but clean shoulder check from Phoenix
defenceman Denis Gauthier at the red-line.

''I think it indicates the state of our game, the lack of respect -
especially in pre-season,'' Roenick said. ''It is uncalled for. It is
ridiculous - one of the reasons our game isn't as good as it once was.
There is no respect for people in this league. It was not a cheap hit,
it was a good solid hit. But you don't do that in pre-season.''

Kings coach Andy Murray also took issue with Gauthier. Murray is
sensitive on the subject of concussions, having lost Adam Deadmarsh
and Jason Allison for more than a season. Deadmarsh never did play
again, announcing his retirement last Thursday at age 30 because of
post-concussion syndrome after 10 NHL seasons. His last game with the
Kings was on Dec. 15, 2002.

''Our track record hasn't been great with these types of injuries, but
we're hoping he's back right away,'' Murray said. ''I would say it was
not a dirty hit, but it was probably uncalled for in a game like this.
We know that Jeremy had (Gauthier) lined up in Phoenix and backed off
on him on a similar-type situation where he could have hurt him. I
wouldn't say this was even a penalty, but there are some things that
don't have to happen in a game like this.''

Just eight seconds after Roenick was led into the dressing room,
Kostopoulos instigated a fight with Gauthier. Belanger also received a
fighting major during the incident, giving Phoenix a five-minute power
play that was shortened by David Tanabe's high-sticking penalty.

Both goalies player the entire game. Garon has 24 saves and Curtis
Joseph had 13.

-thanks to www.tsn.ca for report

Datsyuk back in Motown

DETROIT (AP) - Pavel Datsyuk is back with the Detroit Red Wings,
spurning the chance to go home to play in Russia.

Datsyuk signed a two-year contract on Monday that will pay him $3.9
million US per season. "We're obviously very happy that we got Pavel
back," Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. "He's a talented
young player that had a very good year for us two years ago, and we're
hoping for more of the same. With the new rules, I think skilled
players like Pavel are really going to be helped."

The restricted free agent, his agent and the Red Wings had been
negotiating since before the NHL lockout that wiped out the 2004-05

The 27-year-old Russian signed a contract earlier this month with
Avangard Omsk of the Russian SuperLeague. That deal was matched by
Moscow Dynamo, another SuperLeague team that Datsyuk played with
during the lockout.

Those moves created doubts that Datsyuk would return to Detroit this season.

He had a breakthrough season in 2003-04, finishing tied for the team
lead with 30 goals and totalling 68 points.

Datsyuk was a standout during the past two regular seasons and
lacklustre in the post-season, like most of his teammates. He didn't
score a goal in the 2003 or 2004 playoffs and had just six assists.

Datsyuk is the final major piece of the puzzle Holland had to get into
place under the league's new $39 million salary cap - about half of
what Detroit has spent in the past.

Holland re-signed another restricted free agent, forward Henrik
Zetterberg earlier this month and brought back veteran centre Steve
Yzerman. Almost a month ago, Holland said he was not close to
re-signing Datsyuk or Zetterberg, who was also a restricted free

Detroit hosts the St. Louis Blues on Oct. 5 in the season opener.

-thanks to www.sportsnet.ca for report

Dan Blackburn forced to retire at 22

NEW YORK (CP) - New York Rangers goaltender Dan Blackburn announced
his retirement Sunday, ending his attempt at a comeback from serious
nerve damage in his left shoulder.

"Danny has worked extremely hard over the last two seasons to do
everything in his power to get his shoulder to a point where he would
be able to play," Rangers president and general manager Glen Sather
said in a statement. "We are all very disappointed for him, knowing
the effort he put in and the tremendous future he had."

Blackburn, 22, suffered the shoulder injury prior to the start of
Rangers' training camp in 2003 and was sidelined for the entire
2003-04 season. He underwent nerve exploration surgery in 2004, then
returned to action for the Victoria Salmon Kings of the ECHL during
the NHL labour dispute.

He posted a 3-9-0 record with a 3.54 goals-against average for the
Salmon Kings, but struggled with limited mobility in his left arm that
relegated him to wearing to wear a blocker on his glove hand. He was
invited to Rangers' camp as a longshot, and suffered a further setback
when he injured his left knee on Sept. 15.

The six-foot-one, 191-pound netminder posted a 20-32-4 record with a
3.22 goals-against average in 63 career games for the Rangers. He made
his debut in 2001 as an 18-year-old, making him the fifth-youngest
goaltender in history to appear in an NHL game.

-thanks to www.sportsnet.ca

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Crosby first game in NHL pre-season leads to a point

Teen phenom Sidney Crosby needed just 8:32 to record his first point
in his debut in a Penguins' uniform.

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (CP-AP) -- Sidney Crosby wasted little time showing
why he's one of the NHL's hottest commodities.

Crosby, Pittsburgh's much-celebrated top draft pick, had an assist in
his NHL exhibition debut, but it wasn't enough for the Penguins in a
5-4 overtime loss Wednesday night to the Boston Bruins.

Adam Deadmarsh to announce retirement

The post effects of two serious concussions has taken its toll on the
30-year-old Deadmarsh.

Sportsnet.ca -- Adam Deadmarsh can no longer ignore the signs his
ailing body is telling him. After battling with concussion problems
the past three years, the former Avalanche winger has decided to

According to a report from the Denver Post, Deadmarsh has yet to
officially file retirement papers with the league, but will shortly
ending a hockey career that began with the Quebec Nordiques in the
1994-95 season.

"I've been living on hope the last three years I'd be able to play
again, but my body is just telling me it's not going to happen,"
Deadmarsh told the Post from his home in British Columbia.

Traded by the Avalanche to Los Angeles in February 2001, Deadmarsh
played 567 career games, finishing with 184 goals and 373 points.

"I played almost 600 games and wanted to play another 600 more," said
Deadmarsh. "When I think of all the memories I could have had if I
kept playing, it's a little tough. But I'm thankful for the time I did
have and all the memories. There were a lot of great ones in Colorado,
that's for sure."

-thanks to www.sportsnet.ca

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Stevie Y?

One by one, they asked themselves those life-altering questions and came up with the most difficult of answers.
Stevens, Messier, Damphousse, Francis.
"Adieu." "Thanks for the memories." "We've had enough."
Steve Yzerman took that long, hard look into himself and came away with a different answer: Not yet.
Not that the captain of the Detroit Red Wings hasn't thought about the end; indeed, he welcomes the freedom that final decision will bring. But not just yet, thank you.
"You know, I'm comfortable with it and in some ways I look forward to it," Yzerman said. "As much as I'd like to compete, it's difficult. It gets old. You're battling; guys are big and strong and fast. You're fighting time. So in some ways, when it's over, I'll have a sense of relief. It's a lot of work and I enjoy doing it, but again I look forward to when it's over as well."
Just not now.
In announcing their retirements in recent days, both Scott Stevens and Mark Messier, who own a combined nine Stanley Cup rings, said the fact there was nothing left to prove -- no dreams to chase down or points to make -- was a significant factor in deciding that they had had enough.
Yzerman might well have come to the same conclusion. Having won three Stanley Cups and a playoff MVP award since 1997, Yzerman is the most prominent athlete in one of the best sports cities in North America. Apart perhaps from the incomparable Gordie Howe, Yzerman is his team's most important player ever.
"He's right up there with Gordie Howe," Detroit GM Ken Holland said. "Anything I add to that is going to diminish it.
"He came here and he really had to rebuild the franchise. He's a slam-dunk Hall of Famer, and he's going to be one of the best players of his era."
And still he is here at age 40, slogging through his 22nd NHL training camp. He is here with nothing left to prove, nothing left to accomplish, beyond feeding that powerful need to compete, and the equally powerful desire to be wanted, to be needed, to believe he can make a difference once more.
"I had 15 months there to debate it and back forth. At times, I was certain I was going to play and there were other times I was certain I wasn't going to play," Yzerman said. "Until the lockout ended and I had a chance to sit down with Kenny Holland to kind of discuss, 'Does it make sense for me to come back, economically, for the organization, personnel wise? What do you want to do with this team?'"
It could have turned out to be a much more delicate dance than it did.
The Red Wings, the biggest of the big spenders under the old system, were in tough with the new salary cap. Neither Holland nor senior vice-president Jim Devellano, the man who drafted Yzerman at his first draft 22 years ago, had a real inclination of what Yzerman wanted financially or what he expected his role on the team to be.
"The biggest thing Kenny and I didn't want to do was insult him," Devellano said. "We were a little bit nervous about that. We told Steve this right off the top."
But Yzerman understood the team's limitations and made things easy for them.
Although no one will be handing around a plastic bucket at Joe Louis Arena with Yzerman's name on the side, he is playing for the relatively paltry sum of $1.25 million.
More important to Yzerman's final decision was the fact Holland and Devellano wanted Yzerman back, not just as some warm fuzzy reminder of past glories, but as a player they consider critical to helping the team back to Cup contention.
"They want me to come back and play and do what I can do, just come and play and try," Yzerman said. "Hearing that from them, I'd like to play another year, go year by year with this thing, play and see how I do. That's what it came down to.
"Just knowing that I'm walking in there, not because of what I've done in the past but because they want me to be a part of it. Hearing that, I'm happy to be back."
This same thought process was behind Yzerman's invitation to the Canadian Olympic orientation camp in British Columbia last month. Both head coach Pat Quinn and executive director Wayne Gretzky singled Yzerman out for praise during the camp. Barring injury or a quiet word from Yzerman himself saying he's not up to it, Yzerman likely will be on the Canadian squad as it defends its gold medal in Turin in February.
"I think the Olympic camp was great for Steve," Holland said.
There are those who say Messier hung on too long before he finally called it quits. Francis was a disappointment as he tried for one last kick at glory in Toronto late in the 2003-04 season. Injuries had started to take their toll on Stevens even before he left the game midway through the 2003-04 season.
But Yzerman has had the rare ability to assess himself and his role in the game without sentiment. He has gone from a player who recorded seven straight seasons of 100 points or more, to a player who learned to lead a team by blocking shots and killing penalties.
When he sat down with Devellano and Holland, Yzerman told them he imagined himself playing 12 to 15 minutes a night, likely on a checking line, maybe logging some power-play time.
"He's got his head on straight. He reads himself properly," Devellano said.
At the start of the 2003-04 season, it was expected Yzerman would play 60-65 games but, said Holland, "that plan went down the tubes the first week of the season."
Yzerman played in 75 contests and was the fifth-leading scorer on a team that won the Presidents' Trophy for the second time in the past three seasons.
"He does so many different things for us," Holland said.
If Yzerman can replicate that kind of production and durability this season, "We'd be thrilled," Holland said.
"He may not put the numbers up that he used to, but he brings a lot more to the table, in the dressing room and the bench and even the composure he has on the ice," said teammate Kirk Maltby, who's been in Detroit since March of 1996 and is also a three-time Cup winner.
In the 2004 playoffs, the Red Wings faced gritty Calgary in the second round. After splitting the first four games, the teams were in a scoreless tie in the second period of the pivotal fifth game when Yzerman suffered a fractured orbital bone under his left eye and a scratched cornea when struck in the face by a puck.
The Wings didn't score again in the series. Coincidence? Holland doesn't think so.
"Throughout his career, Steve has found ways to make a big play at a critical point," Holland said.
There will, of course, come a time when the doors to the Red Wings' locker room will open and the captain's stall will be occupied by another player, the familiar No. 19 presumably hanging from the Joe Louis rafters.
"Yeah. Definitely it would have been different [if he'd retired]. Walking into that dressing room, I think no matter what, one of the things you'd always know is that Stevie was going to be there and be a part of the Red Wings," said Kris Draper, a Red Wing since the 1993-94 season. "I think everyone, not only in the organization but in all of hockey, is excited that Stevie's coming back for one more year and not ending this career the way that we saw happened in the game against Calgary."
Yzerman, the father of three children, ages 6, 7 and 11, has given it some thought, how he'd like to stay in the game somehow. Maybe coach. Maybe something else.
"I follow what's going on in the game, who's going where and what former players are doing," Yzerman said. "Whether you're in scouting or management or coaching, you have an impact and it matters how your team does. You make sure you do your job well because you have a potential to make a difference. Just being a part of an organization -- whether it be the Olympic program, or just your own club -- maybe you're not on the ice, but it still matters to you."
-thanks to Scott Burnside is a freelance writer based in Atlanta and is a frequent contributor to ESPN.com.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Scores - Sept 20 Pre-Season

Rangers 1 @ Islanders 5 F
Lightning 1 @ Canadiens 6 F
Bruins 0 @ Maple Leafs 5 F
Sabres 3 @ Wild 6 F
Oilers 4 @ Stars 6 3rd
Kings 1 @ Coyotes 0 1st

Guillaume Latendresse shines in exhibition play

MONTREAL (CP) - Guillaume Latendresse, the new favourite of the Bell
Centre crowd, had two goals and an assist as the Montreal Canadiens
downed the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-1 in NHL pre-season play Tuesday

His linemates Marcel Hossa and Radek Bonk each had a goal and three
assists as the trio was on the ice for five Montreal goals. Steve
Begin and Tomas Plekanec also scored for the Canadiens.

Jim Cambell scored early for Tampa Bay, the defending Stanley Cup
champions who rested their top line of Martin St-Louis, Brad Richards
and Fred Modin.

The crowd of 18,323 shouted Guy, Guy, Guy when 18-year-old Latendresse
scored his goals - the same chant once used for former stars Guy
Carboneau and Guy Lafleur.

The six-foot-two Latendresse, who drew cheers for his physical play as
well as his offensive skill, was drafted in the second round in June
and has been a standout in camp thus far.

It was a shaky night for Tampa Bay's new goaltender signing Sean
Burke, who allowed six goals on 38 shots. The Lightning fired 26 at
Yann Danis and Jose Theodore.

While there were more penalties than in pre-lockout days, special
teams didn't dominate as for the most part and there were plenty of
scoring chances at both ends. There were 14 minor penalties called in
the game.

Campbell jumped on a giveaway to go to the net and score on his own
rebound 4:54 into the game.

Begin tied it at 11:52 on a feed from Plekanec and Hossa put Montreal
ahead when he banged in Bonk's rebound at 16:09. Latendresse
backhanded a rebound over Burke on a power play at 18:10.

Montreal was on another man advantage when Latendresse took a feed
from Hossa and beat Burke from in close 8:41 into the second frame.

Bonk made it 5-1 at 1:14 of the third on a rush with Latendresse and
Plekanec scored shorthanded at 4:27. Montreal improved to 2-0 in
the pre-season while Tampa Bay dropped to 1-1.

Cookie re-signs in Vancouver

The winger had 11 goals and 12 assists in 53 games with the Canucks in 2003-04.

VANCOUVER (CP) -- The Vancouver Canucks have re-signed winger Matt
Cooke to a $4.525-million US, three-year deal, a source said Tuesday.

The NHL club was to announce the deal either later Tuesday night or Wednesday.

The 27-year-old will earn $1.5 million this season, $1.5 million in
2006-07 and $1.525 million in 2007-08.

Cooke, a restricted free agent, has not been at Canucks camp but
arrived in town Tuesday after agreeing to the new deal.

Hejduk out of action for 4-5 weeks

The Avalanche will be without their most lethal weapon for the start
of the season after Milan Hejduk had knee surgery.

DENVER (CP) -- Colorado Avalanche sniper Milan Hejduk is expected to
be out four to five weeks after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery.

The 29-year-old winger left Friday's intrasquad game because of a sore
knee and had not skated since.

"It's early in the pre-season and it was the ideal time for Milan to
get this taken care of," Avalanche head coach Joel Quenneville said
Tuesday in a statement. "He'll be fully recovered in a few weeks and
ready to embark on a long regular season."

Hejduk was Colorado's leading goalscorer two seasons in a row, leading
the NHL with 50 goals in 2002-03 en route to winning the Rocket
Richard Trophy. He scored 35 goals in 2003-04.

Last season, Hejduk played for Pardubice in the Czech Republic,
registering 25 goals in 48 games.

Yashin named captain of Islanders

NEW YORK (CP) - Alexei Yashin will wear the 'C' for the New York
Islanders this season.

The Islanders appointed Yashin team captain Tuesday, in time for the
team's pre-season game later that night against the New York Rangers.
"This is a very big honour for me," Yashin said after the morning
skate. "There are so many players on our team who are great leaders
and would have been excellent choices, so this means a lot."

Veteran winger Mark Parrish and first-year defenceman Brad Lukowich
are the alternate captains.

"Alexei is our leader, on and off the ice. This just makes it
official," said Islanders head coach Steve Stirling. "We discussed
this at length with Yash and all of our veterans.

"We're counting on the leadership of at least a dozen guys I can think
of. Alexei, Mark and Brad will be at the forefront."

Yashin becomes the team's 10th captain, following Ed Westfall, Clark
Gillies, Denis Potvin, Brent Sutter, Patrick Flatley, Bryan McCabe,
Trevor Linden, Kenny Jonsson and Michael Peca.

Datsyuk signs

Red Wings GM Ken Holland stayed in daily contact with Datsyuk's agent,
catching a break when Russian politics entered the picture.

(CP) -- Suddenly the Detroit Red Wings feel a whole lot better about
their chances this season after getting star centre Pavel Datsyuk back
into the fold.

For GM Ken Holland, it was a tortuous month of negotiations and a
roller-coaster of emotions before finally plucking the silky smooth
playmaker out of Russia.

"I spoke to Pavel this morning," Holland said Tuesday from Detroit.
"It's all confirmed. He's coming back. We certainly feel like we've
won the lottery."

Datsyuk, a restricted free agent, agreed to a two-year deal worth a
little more than $3.8 million US a season. It ends a bizarre soap
opera that had many twists and turns, including two clubs in Russia
fighting over his rights and also offering a multi-million dollar

Tkachuk overweight

Tkachuk's teammates are displeased with the way the team has handled
him after failing his physical; alternate captain Doug Weight said
he's been punished enough.

Sportsnet.ca -- The NHL Players' Association has filed a grievance on
behalf of Keith Tkachuk after the star winger was suspended Friday by
the St. Louis Blues for failing his team physical.

NHLPA spokesman Jonathan Weatherdon said Monday the union filed the
grievance the same day as the suspension.

"We have disagreed with the suspension and are continuing to work at
resolving it," Tkachuk's agent, Bob Murray, said Monday from Boston.

"Hopefully we can find a quick and amicable resolution."

Blues general manager Larry Pleau had little to add Monday.

"There's really not much to say other than he didn't pass the physical
and he's suspended," Pleau said from St. Louis, adding that Tkachuk
can't come back until he passes the physical.

The Blues open the pre-season Wednesday at home against the Predators.

The 33-year-old power winger is the second-highest paid player in the
NHL at $7.6 million US, tied with Nicklas Lidstrom and Alexei Yashin
behind Jaromir Jagr's $8.36 million.

Murray doesn't understand why the Blues dealt with the situation in
the manner they did.

"I guess the more common approach has been, if they feel a guy has
come in and isn't properly conditioned they would bring him into camp
and have him do extra work," said Murray.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, on Monday, alternate captain
Doug Weight voiced his displeasure with the club's decision.

"He's been punished enough," Weight said. "I'm not always in agreement
with the authorities' choices, but it is what it is."

The Blues list Tkachuk at 231 pounds in their media guide, and while
he is rumoured to be as much as 25 pounds overweight, no one connected
with the team will confirm that.

"The fact is that (Tkachuk) let himself go a lot until February or
March and he's got a body that you can't do that," Weight said. "He
gets big fast. But he worked his butt off this year.

"He's overweight, yes, but he's in great shape, he's strong," Weight
added. "I wish they would've let him test because I'm sure he would
turn some heads with his strength."

Tkachuk, who is working out on his own in St. Louis, had 33 goals and
38 assists in 2003-04.

With files from the Canadian Press and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Parade to the penalty box...expected until players learn and adapt

A high number of penalties were called across the NHL in the first
weekend of action, but will the the strict enforcement of rules stick
throughout the season?

(CP) -- Colin Campbell wasn't surprised at all to see steady traffic
to and from the penalty boxes in the opening games of the NHL

The league's director of hockey operations says it will take time for
players to adapt to a crackdown on hooking, holding and other fouls
that the NHL hopes will bring more offence and excitement to the

"It's like we expected," Campbell said Monday. "You have a culture
that's been ingrained for years.

"We don't know when it started, but the acceptance of so much hooking
and holding will take a while to get out of the psyche. Even if
they're told beforehand, people still tend to do it."

A total of 37 penalties were called in the Montreal Canadiens' 3-2 win
over the Atlanta Thrashers on Sunday night and 26 were handed out in
the Ottawa Senators' 5-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Similarly high totals were seen across the league in the first weekend
of pre-season matches.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Bondra officially signs

Thrashers sign Peter Bondra
The Atlanta Thrashers have signed unrestricted free agent right wing
Peter Bondra. "Peter has been a very explosive scorer and talented
winger in this league for many years and we are very fortunate to add
another veteran player of his caliber," said Thrashers GM Don Waddell.
9/18/2005 10:19 AM

Leafs lose first game of pre-season

Sens dump Leafs in pre-season
Brandon Bochenski scored a goal and added an assist as Ottawa Senators
beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2 in the NHL exhibition opener for both
teams. Andrej Meszaros, Mike Fisher, Jason Spezza and Daniel
Alfredsson also scored for the Sens.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Exhibition Scores - September 17th

Atlanta 6 @ Philadelphia 8
Calgary 4 @ Edmonton 5
Washington 2 @ Buffalo 3
Phoenix 0 @ Minnesota 7
Dallas 2 @ Colorado 4
Anaheim 2 @ Los Angeles 4

Wild over the Coyotes in exhibition play

Brian Rolston, Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Mikko Koivu combined for four
goals and four assists and Dwayne Roloson stopped 20 shots as the Wild
posted a 7-0 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes.
Desperate for another offensive weapon other than Marian Gaborik,
Minnesota signed center Rolston as a free agent in July 2004. Coach
Jacques Lemaire elected to put him between the youngsters Bouchard and
Koivu, and the move paid off instantaneously.
Rolston opened the scoring with a power-play goal late in the first
period and Bouchard doubled Minnesota's lead seven minutes into the
second. After a shorthanded tally by Wes Walz midway through the
stanza, Koivu gave the Wild a 4-0 bulge at 2:05 of the third.
Bouchard capped the scoring for his line with a power-play tally at
6:30, while Roman Voloshenko and Pascal Dupuis scored with the man
advantage later in the period to provide the final margin.
Roloson made eight saves in the first period, seven in the second and
five in the third for the shutout. David LeNeveu surrendered seven
goals on 35 shots for the Coyotes.
Phoenix played without newcomers Brett Hull, Mike Ricci, Petr Nedved
and goaltender Curtis Joseph. Gaborik sat out for the Wild.

Brian Boucher Injured

Phoenix Coyotes goaltender Brian Boucher will miss at least two weeks
due to a groin injury, according to the Arizona Republic.

Boucher was injured during a shootout on Friday night in an exhibition
game against the Minnesota Wild.

The newspaper reported that Boucher was walking very gingerly Saturday
after meeting with a team doctor. He dismissed questions about
starting his re-hab assignment in the next few days as being

"This is my first groin injury so I don't know how it's going to
respond (to treatment)," Boucher told the Republic on Saturday. "I'm
very disappointed that I'm injured, but it is what it is. You have to
move on."

The injury leaves free agent signee Curtis Joseph as the number one
goaltender by default.

Keith Tkachuk failed a physical and was suspended Friday by the team.

ST. LOUIS (AP) - St. Louis Blues forward Keith Tkachuk failed a
physical and was suspended Friday by the team.

General manager Larry Pleau did not elaborate on the status of
Tkachuk, but said he was expected to return to the team.

TSN has learned that Tkachuk showed up overweight and the team felt it
had no choice but to suspend him.

"Players have to come to camp in shape," Blue coach Mike Kitchen told
the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Friday. "He's been terrific following
the program previously. The work stoppage has been hard on a lot of
people. We had a lot of frustrated players. ... They had so many dates
they had to peak, and they weren't able to hold their level of

The 33-year-old left wing had 33 goals and 38 assists in 2003-04, the
last season before the lockout. He has scored 431 goals and added 401
assists in his career.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Matt Stajan waiitng to rejoin the big club after a year on the Rock

TORONTO (CP) - Matt Stajan feels he's come a long way since he was last seen skating with the Toronto Maple Leafs as a 19-year-old rookie few ever thought would crack the team in 2003-04.
For starters, the talented forward won't be living at home with mom and dad in Mississauga, Ont., this season. He's bought a condo in downtown Toronto and will live alone.  ''But maybe a few times a week I'll head home for a few home-cooked meals,'' he said Thursday at Leafs camp. ''It's always good to have that there. My mom and dad don' t ever mind when I come home.''  The new condo is actually still under construction but he'll rent a place downtown in the meantime. He got used to life away from home last year in St. John's when the NHL lockout forced him to play AHL hockey on The Rock.  ''I felt like I developed as a player and moreso I grew off the ice,'' he said. ''I learned how to handle myself away from the rink on my own.
''Getting a chance to live out there on my own, that was important,'' he added.  He was commuting from mom and dad's place two Septembers ago when Stajan surprised many and made the team out of camp. He ended up with 14 goals and 13 assists in 69 games with a plus-7 rating - pretty impressive for a youngster with limited ice time on a veteran-laden team.  ''It was a dream season for me two years ago, everything seemed to get better and better,'' said Stajan, now 21. ''And then the lockout came and that was a bit of a downer.''  The money certainly wasn't the same. He gets $805,600 US to play in the NHL this season and $75,000 if he's in the AHL.  On the flip side, he got the kind of ice time in St. John's he could only dream of in Toronto.  ''I got to develop a lot,'' said Stajan, who had 66 points (23-43) in 80 regular-season games. ''I experienced a lot of different situations. I played power play, penalty kill, the last few minutes of the period - I wouldn't have had that opportunity in Toronto.  ''So I was fortunate to have that last year while everybody else was sitting at home.''
Head coach Pat Quinn saw two versions of Matt Stajan last year in the AHL and certainly hopes the second one shows up this fall.  ''He struggled somewhat in the early part of the season but finished strong, especially in the playoffs,'' Quinn said Thursday. ''We didn't have a lot of strong players in the playoffs but he was one of them.''  Stajan is determined to bring that game with him this season.  ''I want to contribute even more than I did two years ago,'' he said.  And that's what the Leafs are counting on.  ''It's a big year for Matt,'' Leafs GM John Ferguson said Thursday. ''I've liked his good effort level so far in camp, good energy, good speed. He's a guy we're counting on to come in and not only make the club but contribute and take the next step in his career.''  
Where Stajan plays on the Leafs this season isn't exactly clear. The team loaded up at centre with the additions of Jason Allison and Eric Lindros, joining captain Mats Sundin in a formidable threesome down the middle. Stajan can play both wing and centre, as he did in 2003-04.  ''I'll play pretty much anywhere,'' Stajan said. ''If it's fourth-line centre, that's fine. If it's winger on any of the lines, I'll do that too. I'm happy to have played both positions growing up in my career and hopefully it'll help me in the long run.''

Flyers sign Brian Savage to fill injury voids up front left by Kappanen and Forsberg

 PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) - The Philadelphia Flyers wasted little time finding a replacement for Sami Kapanen.  After discovering Kapanen would be lost for 10 weeks with a shoulder injury Thursday, the Flyers signed left wing Brian Savage to a one-year contract.  Financial terms were not disclosed, but Savage made $3.25 million in 2003-04.  Kapanen, who played a major role during Philadelphia's run to the Eastern Conference finals in 2004 by switching from right wing to defense, suffered a partially torn right rotator cuff after colliding with a teammate during a workout last week.  He initially injured the shoulder while falling down last month.  "It's been sore ever since then," said Kapanen, who underwent an MRI on Wednesday and will have surgery next week.  "I still have been able to do the scrimmages and all that, but I guess it's time to fix it. ... I think it's better to fix it now than to try and play with a bad shoulder and get to the point where it needs to be fixed in the middle of the season and be in a bad spot going into the playoffs."

Canadian Olympic Hockey Team has until December 22 deadline to announce roster

Team Canada's brain trust wanted more time to evaluate its Olympic men's hockey talent but says it can handle the Dec. 22 roster deadline announced Thursday for the Turin Games.  The date is just seven days later than the deadline four years ago for Salt Lake City.  ''We would have liked to have had as long as possible and we explained that to the NHL, NHLPA and IIHF,'' Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson said from Vilamoura, Portugal, where the Olympic meeting took place. ''We wanted Jan. 1 as the deadline instead but we can live with Dec. 22.''  Executive director Wayne Gretzky had campaigned for a January deadline, saying he wanted as long as possible to see which players were hot. Four years ago, players like Joe Thornton and Todd Bertuzzi caught fire after the deadline and had to be left at home.  ''I can't lie, we did want it later,'' Gretzky told The Score in Phoenix. ''We wished as a group that we had more time to watch the players play more games. We're caught in a real precarious position in that most of the teams in the Olympic tournament would be thrilled to name their team in November because let's be honest, we have more players and tougher decisions than any other country.

Owen Nolan and NHLPA files grievance against Leafs

The NHLPA has filed a grievance on behalf of Owen Nolan after the Toronto Maple Leafs held back the $5.6 million US option on his 2004-05 contract.  The Leafs chose not to buy out Nolan's contract because they believe a knee injury he suffered is not hockey related.  Nolan's camp believes the Maple Leafs originally misdiagnosed his injury and his current problems are associated with that original injury, which was incurred 17 months ago.  The Toronto Star reported in July that the Leafs filed buyout paperwork with the league to cover themselves in case they lose a potential grievance with the NHLPA.

Sidney Crosby making a mark at camp....where will he play?

Sportsnet.ca -- The Sidney Crosby circus continues to draw the media masses to Pittsburgh's training camp as the teenage phenom prepares to make his Penguins debut.  While the team has yet to decide whether Crosby will make his NHL pre-season debut Monday in Columbus, the coaching staff has a good handle on where he'll start in the Pens lineup.  Crosby has practiced and scrimmaged on a line with John LeClair and Mark Recchi and sources tell Sportsnet that's where he will stay for the time being.  The team doesn't want to overwhelm the 18-year old by posting him alongside Mario Lemieux, one of the game's greatest players. They also feel starting Lemieux with Ziggy Palffy and either Ryan Malone or Lasse Pirjeta gives Pittsburh two very explosive lines.
Sidney Crosby had three assists, two of them beauties, to make his mark in the first intrasquad game of the Pittsburgh Penguins' training camp.  Crosby had a hand in three of the four goals scored by Team Herb Brooks in a 4-1 win over Team Badger Bob Johnson.  The 18-year-old centre did what Penguins management hoped he'd do, which is feed off veteran linemates Mark Recchi and John LeClair.  Crosby set up Recchi twice and Jonathan Filewich once with impeccable timing, but he also showed his willingness to dig hard along the boards for the puck during the two-period game.


Ovechkin to delay 2005-2006 Training Camp Debut

ODENTON, Md. (AP) -- Alexander Ovechkin, the top pick in the 2004 draft, won't travel with the Washington Capitals for their first two exhibition games, instead making his pre-season NHL debut at home next week.  Ovechkin's place on the team is secure, and coach Glen Hanlon said Thursday he wants to use games at Carolina on Friday and at Buffalo on Saturday to get extended looks at players fighting for roster spots.  "We have some tough decisions to make," Hanlon said.  The plan is for Ovechkin to play Wednesday, when the Capitals host the Sabres.  Washington, meanwhile, sent two players back to junior hockey Thursday: defenceman Clayton Barthel and goalie Daren Machesney.

Todd Bertuzzi could have aGiant year in 2005-2006 season

Bertuzzi said it feels good to be on the ice again and he's excited about the new direction the game has taken following the end of the lockout.
WHISTLER, B.C. (CP) -- Even when he had two defenceman draped over him Todd Bertuzzi was a load to handle.  Now, with the NHL promising to make the game more open and free-wheeling, Bertuzzi's Vancouver Canuck teammates think he's going to be unstoppable.  "He's always been a big, powerful guy with incredibly soft hands," centre Brendan Morrison said Wednesday after the Canucks moved their training camp to this mountain resort.  "With these new rules, I don't know how you are going to stop him to be honest. He's going to be a force."

Rick Nash out for Training Camp due to ankle injury

Sportsnet has learned that Columbus Bluejackets forward Rick nash will likely be out for the rest of the preseason.
Nash suffered a high ankle sprain yesterday while doing drills and fell feet first into the boards. It's believed he will be out two to three weeks. He hopes to ready for opening night.

Brendan Witt want out of Washington

The last thing a veteran player wants to hear is the word "rebuliding," and Capitals defenceman Brendan Witt is no different.
According to the Washington Post, Witt would rather be traded than to start at the beginning again with the Washiongton Capitals.
"They are rebuilding," Witt told the Washington Post. "I just don't want to be involved in that."

Kovalchuk Holdout Deadline

If Thrashers star Ilya Kovalchuk plays one game for his Russian club after Oct. 5, the Thrashers can kiss their star goodbye for this season.
According to the Augusta Chronicle, Kovalchuk and the Thrashers are no closer to a deal and he is willing to play in Russia if they can't come to terms. If he plays for his Russian club team after Oct. 5, Kovalchuk would need to clear waivers before returning to the NHL.
"I feel like we've made a big push to sign Ilya," Waddell told the Chronicle. "He's a big part of our past, and we want him to be a big part of our future. Unfortunately, this is a business first and a sport second. But we're going to do everything in our power to get Ilya here."

CUJO' regrets of leaving Toronto

In an interview with the Toronto Star, the Phoenix Coyotes' newest goaltender Curtis Joseph admits he made a mistake leaving Toronto.
"Absolutely, in hindsight, it would have been better for me if I had stayed in Toronto," Joseph told the Toronto Star.
"It's a very tricky question, and there's a lot of things that happened that nobody knows about. But as a friend of mine in business says, sometimes your worst decisions work out the best, and sometimes your best turn out to be your worst."
Joseph left Toronto in the summer of 2002, signing a three-year, $24 million contract with the detroit Red Wings.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Ryan Smyth re-signs with Oilers

EDMONTON (CP) - The Edmonton Oilers have re-signed star winger Ryan Smyth to a $7-million US, two-year deal.
The 29-year-old, who will earn $3.5 million a season, was already in camp with the Oilers because he had a basic agreement on a one-year deal while his agent Don Meehan and GM Kevin Lowe tried to hammer out something with more term.
''We were really professional about handling the situation,'' Smyth told CHED radio Wednesday. ''It's a really good feeling. Now we can just go and play hockey and not worry about the negotiations part of it.''
The gritty Smyth has 430 career points (198-232) in 642 NHL regular-season games - all with Edmonton. He had 23 goals and 36 assists in 82 games with the Oilers in 2003-04.

Ron Francis Retirement

Ron Francis, a 23-year veteran with the Hartford Whalers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Carolina Hurricanes, and Toronto Maple Leafs announced his retirement Wednesday from the National Hockey League.
Francis, 42, was a 4-time NHL All-Star (1983, 1985, 1990, 1996). He appeared in a total of 1,731 NHL games, which ranks him third on the all-time list. His stellar career also included 549 goals (19th), 1,249 assists (2nd), and 1,798 total points (4th).
"As a kid growing up in the little city of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, I dreamed of one day playing in the NHL, but never did I expect it to be as much fun as it turned out to be," Francis said in a press release. "I thank everyone who I came in contact with during this long ride for their contributions to making it fun."
Francis was drafted by the Hartford Whalers in 1981 (1st choice, 4th overall). Twenty times, Francis would score at least 20 goals in an NHL season, a feat surpassed only by hockey legend Gordie Howe.
"To all the players I had the chance to play with over my career, I thank you for all your hard work and dedication, your friendship, and for making this entire experience one I thoroughly enjoyed," Francis added. "To all my opponents over the years, I always had the utmost respect for your talents and how you competed every night. To the equipment guys and medical staffs, I thank you for all the hours you quietly put in to make sure that the players have the best opportunity to do their jobs well."
Francis was known for playing the game with class, as his three Lady Byng Memorial Trophies (1995, 1998, 2002) will attest, and his Frank J. Selke Trophy (1995) solidified his reputation as an excellent all-around player. His Hall-of-Fame career was highlighted by consecutive Stanley Cup victories in 1990-91 and 1991-92 with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
"My thanks to all the owners, general managers, and coaches I have had the pleasure of playing for. To all the fans of the NHL, I have enjoyed playing in front of you, whether you were cheering for me or against me, I appreciate the fact that you were willing to spend your hard earned dollars to come and see the games," Francis said. "To my family and friends, I could not think of a greater group of people that I would have wanted to share these years with. It has been truly a fun, memorable experience, and I look forward to having the opportunity to spend more time with you all over the coming years."
-thanks to www.tsn.ca

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

More on Mark

The Moose becomes the fourth NHL veteran to call it a career on the eve of the game's rebirth, joining Scott Stevens, Vincent Damphousse and Al MacInnis.
The NHL's changing of the guard continued Monday as Mark Messier retired after a quarter-century of duty.
Messier, 44, leaves with six Stanley Cups, 1,887 points and a legacy of leadership. His new hockey address will be the Hall of Fame."It's a bittersweet day for the National Hockey League," said Wayne Gretzky, Messier's friend and former Edmonton Oilers teammate."Mark has done so much for the game of hockey and taught so many of our young players. He was an exceptional leader who was unselfish, hard-working and dedicated. He truly loved the game."Add former Rangers teammate Tie Domi: "It's a sad day for hockey, he's one of the greatest players ever. And probably the best teammate ever."Messier joins Scott Stevens, Al MacInnis, Vincent Damphousse and James Patrick in retiring on the eve of training camp, ending distinguished careers put on hiatus last season by the lockout.His health is fine, Messier said, noting that's not always the case in hockey."It's been a long career. I've achieved a lot. There was just really nothing left for me to achieve I guess," he said on a conference call. "It was just time to move aside and go on to something else."In his heyday, Messier cruised the ice like a shark. There was raw power mingled with a mean streak. He wielded power on and off the ice, taking on opponents and owners alike."With Mark it was all about winning," said friend and former Oilers teammate Kevin Lowe. "His whole game was channelled and focused that way. His off-ice preparation, his on-ice preparation. I don't think anybody ever did it better in the history of the game."After Gretzky was traded to Los Angeles, Messier stepped up and led the Oilers to another Stanley Cup in 1989-90 -- his fifth. But he left Edmonton in a dispute over money and went to New York for the 1991-92 season, helping restore Ranger pride. With Messier as captain, New York topped the league and won the Cup in '94, defeating the Canucks in seven games."It's an end to an era for a unique individual," said Florida Panthers GM Mike Keenan, who was the Rangers head coach in 1994. "I had the opportunity and a privileged glance at his ability."The game will miss him for sure."Pat Quinn coached against Messier in that final."Mark, I think, provided some real leadership for that team," said Quinn, now coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs. "Apparently lots of things went on behind the scenes there and he was a big part of keeping that group together. Behind the scenes he had kept that very talented and veteran team on line."At his prime, Messier talked the talk and walked the walk.

NHLPA Exec commitee to vote again

TORONTO (CP) - Ted Saskin has taken the high road and decided to let the executive board of the NHL Players' Association vote again on his five-year deal as the new executive director - this time via secret ballot.
Despite overwhelming support from player reps during a late-night conference call with the executive board Monday night, Saskin decided to re-open the vote to once and for all end the criticism from a small group of players who questioned the process by which Saskin had been hired.
''After good dialogue with members of the executive board, I decided that it was in the best interests of the membership to conduct a secret ballot vote amongst our player representatives and executive officers so that there are absolutely no questions regarding my election as executive director and general counsel,'' Saskin said in a statement released after 12:30 a.m. EDT on Tuesday morning.
Ballots were to be sent to player reps across the league Tuesday morning and the vote is expected to be completed by the end of the week. Saskin is expected to once again have his deal approved with a huge majority.
The board, comprised of seven executive committee members and 30 players reps, voted 31-6 on Aug. 31 to approve Saskin's deal but the vote was done via conference call and not by secret ballot, against the union's bylaws.
A small group of players, led by Trent Klatt, argued that Saskin was therefore improperly hired. The group, which also includes Toronto Maple Leafs tough guy Tie Domi and Minnesota Wild player rep Dwayne Roloson, then asked for the resignation of Saskin and NHLPA president Trevor Linden.
And that's when the group appeared to cross the line. Support from players and agents around the league poured in Monday as word spread that the group has hired a lawyer to possibly launch a lawsuit against Saskin.
''Everybody on our team supports Ted Saskin and Trevor Linden, there's no issue whatsoever,'' Colorado Avalanche star centre Joe Sakic said on the phone Monday. ''All the guys I talk to are happy with Ted.
''I can't believe this is even an issue. It's crazy. Here in Colorado, the focus is on training camp, where it should be.''
Added Flames captain Jarome Iginla: ''This is amazing to me, I don't get it. No one on my team phoned me to express any displeasure with Ted's hiring, I can tell you that.''
Still, Domi stuck to his guns Monday as the Leafs opened camp.
''The process has to be conducted a little more properly,'' he said. ''Trevor and Ted have worked hard on this but they were part of the team that cancelled the season, too.
''It's not up to those guys to make decisions. It's up to us 700 guys. I think that's where the frustration sets in with everybody.''
Despite Domi's views, Sakic's sentiment mirrored what the majority of people in and around the game felt about Saskin when contacted Monday.
Canucks defenceman Ed Jovanovski is frustrated the controversy has blown up just as the teams are opening training camp.
''I think this game has just got back on it's feet,'' Jovanovski told reporters in Vancouver. ''I don't think we need that garbage settling in.''
The game's biggest agents all support the new NHLPA executive director.
''I haven't talked to a single player who has shared Tie's view but I've spoken to many who share Joe's,'' veteran agent Don Baizley said from Vancouver. ''I can honestly say none of my clients (which include Sakic, Paul Kariya, Peter Forsberg, Saku Koivu) have expressed any of this sentiment.
''Everybody I've talked to feel Ted was the right guy (to replace Bob Goodenow). It's almost that simple.''
Saskin's phone line was burning Monday.
''I know from first-hand discussions I've had with the overwhelming majority of our executive board (which consists of 30 player reps and seven executive officers) along with many more players and key player agents, that there is strong support for our executive committee and for me as the executive director,'' Saskin said.
''I look forward to addressing any concerns Tie or another individual may have with our direction. I don't think it's necessary or appropriate to have these discussions through the media. I can tell you that on any given day, I'm on the phone with dozens of players and today's traffic was heavier than usual. It was certainly gratifying to hear all the support that I have received from the membership.''
Linden said it's inevitable that some players are not going to agree with all decisions made by the union executive.
''In anything you do, certainly in this job, you have certain players who are not happy with the results,'' he told reporters in Vancouver. ''We ratified a 600-page CBA where we had 11 per cent of our association didn't agree with what we did. You make decisions on what's best for 700 guys. It's tough to do.
''We try to make recommendations that are going to benefit our group. We feel that we've done that here.''
Talk of a militant group led by Klatt, an NHLPA executive committee member, surfaced in the Toronto Star over the past week.
''Please do not use scare tactics on the players,'' Klatt wrote to Saskin in an e-mail, according to the Star.
''You have to realize that any one player, and there are a large number of unhappy players, can file an action in court or with an agency which will put everything into the public eye. . . . Right now, are you really comfortable that you were properly elected? What would a government agency say?''
Klatt, who did not immediately return a telephone message, announced his retirement Monday even though he had another year on his contract with the Los Angeles Kings at $912,000 US. Klatt did not take part in Monday night's conference call, which apparently did not impress several player reps who wanted answers. He will however get a vote again this week, as will Vincent Damphousse, who retired last week.
In addition to Klatt and Domi, the Star says the rogue group includes Roloson and Detroit Red Wings defenceman Chris Chelios.
''This is supposed to be a democratic union and it's become communist,'' Roloson told the Toronto Star.
Arizona player rep Shane Doan, who fully supports Saskin, doesn't understand why this group is doing what it's doing.
''We're shooting ourselves in the foot with this thing,'' the Phoenix Coyotes captain said Monday night. ''I understand those guys have an issue or a problem, but they should bring it to a player meeting and not be airing it out in the public and doing the things they've done.
''Now is not the time to be doing this. Let's move on. It's not going to do any good to cry over spilt milk. It doesn't make any sense to me.''
Klatt's group is upset at how Saskin was hired and given a five-year deal worth $2 million a year. They believe a search committee should have been put together to search for other possible replacements for the outgoing Goodenow, although that protocol doesn't appear anywhere in the NHLPA constitution.
Sakic dismisses any criticism of the Saskin appointment.
''Ted is the right man for the job,'' Sakic said. ''He's the architect of the deal and he knows the CBA inside out.
''I think this just a minority group of disgruntled players.''
''From what I gather, the vote on Ted's confirmation was 31-6,'' said influential agent Don Meehan, who represents the likes of Iginla, Jose Theodore, Mike Peca and Curtis Joseph. ''And if you believe in the democratic process, I think you have to respect that. Is it healthy to have opposing views? Yes. And there probably will be when you have 700 people involved in a constituency.
''But a vote of 31-6 seems pretty convincing to me.''
But the dissenting group pointed to the fact the vote was not held via secret ballot. So what, said Carolina Hurricanes player rep Kevyn Adams.
''I was on the conference call,'' Adams said Monday. ''I thought it was a great, open and honest dialogue. I am really surprised to see guys saying that. We really voiced our opinion on that call and we spent five hours talking on it. So if you didn't say what was on your mind at that time, then you never will. Guys spoke openly.
''At no time did I think guys on the call thought anyone else other than Ted was right for the job. Guys were in agreement that Ted Saskin had done a great job for us and he was the right guy. And we voted that way. To me this is a total non-issue.''
Klatt and the rogue group of players have hired a lawyer, Bob Lanza, who will look at what legal avenues they have to unseat Saskin.
But Saskin, many believe, is perfect for the job. He has a solid relationship with NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and that's key in a new CBA that calls for both sides to work together in a number of facets.
''To me, Ted is absolutely the guy,'' said Adams. ''This whole deal right now is predicated on the two sides working together and having a good relationship.
''For someone to come in from the outside and maybe doesn't have the relationship that Ted does, to me it makes no sense. Ted has proven that he has the relationship that we need. I think he's proven that he's earned the job.''
Added Meehan: ''I think Ted has done an extraordinary job under very difficult circumstances. I think he's perfectly suited for the position. He has the respect of the executive committee by a convincing vote. I think he's well-suited and well-respected by the other side and at this time I don't think there's anybody better qualified than Ted Saskin to lead the Association.''
But Domi feels every player in the league should have had a say in Saskin's hiring.
''I don't think it's that we don't want Ted Saskin, I think just the way the whole process was conducted everybody isn't too happy with,'' Domi said. ''As a player that's been around, a veteran guy, we make a lot of money because of what guys stood for before for us.
''Things have to be assessed. Things were not assessed properly. I think there just has to be a better process instead of Trevor making his own decision for everybody.
''There's 700 guys that are just as important as the next. Everybody's a little frustrated.''
-thanks to www.tsn.ca

Moose Hangs 'em up....25 years later

The NHL's changing of the guard continued Monday as Mark Messier retired after a quarter-century of duty.
Messier, 44, leaves with six Stanley Cups, 1,887 points and a legacy of leadership. His new hockey address will be the Hall of Fame.
"It's a bittersweet day for the National Hockey League," said Wayne Gretzky, Messier's friend and former Edmonton Oilers teammate.
"Mark has done so much for the game of hockey and taught so many of our young players. He was an exceptional leader who was unselfish, hard-working and dedicated. He truly loved the game."
Add former Rangers teammate Tie Domi: "It's a sad day for hockey, he's one of the greatest players ever. And probably the best teammate ever."
Messier joins Scott Stevens, Al MacInnis, Vincent Damphousse and James Patrick in retiring on the eve of training camp, ending distinguished careers put on hiatus last season by the lockout.
His health is fine, Messier said, noting that's not always the case in hockey.
"It's been a long career. I've achieved a lot. There was just really nothing left for me to achieve I guess," he said on a conference call. "It was just time to move aside and go on to something else."
In his heyday, Messier cruised the ice like a shark. There was raw power mingled with a mean streak. He wielded power on and off the ice, taking on opponents and owners alike.
"With Mark it was all about winning," said friend and former Oilers teammate Kevin Lowe. "His whole game was channelled and focused that way. His off-ice preparation, his on-ice preparation. I don't think anybody ever did it better in the history of the game."
After Gretzky was traded to Los Angeles, Messier stepped up and led the Oilers to another Stanley Cup in 1989-90 - his fifth. But he left Edmonton in a dispute over money and went to New York for the 1991-92 season, helping restore Ranger pride. With Messier as captain, New York topped the league and won the Cup in '94, defeating the Canucks in seven games.
"It's an end to an era for a unique individual," said Florida Panthers GM Mike Keenan, who was the Rangers head coach in 1994. "I had the opportunity and a privileged glance at his ability.
"The game will miss him for sure."
Pat Quinn coached against Messier in that final.
"Mark, I think, provided some real leadership for that team," said Quinn, now coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs. "Apparently lots of things went on behind the scenes there and he was a big part of keeping that group together. Behind the scenes he had kept that very talented and veteran team on line."
At his prime, Messier talked the talk and walked the walk.
With the Rangers trailing New Jersey 3-2 in the 1994 Eastern Conference final, Messier promised New York would force a seventh game. He made good on his word with a hat trick in a 4-2 victory.
New York won the deciding game 2-1 in double overtime to advance to the final.
"It was very comforting, to say the least, knowing that a guy could in terms of his leadership say and then be able to go out and follow it up with his on-ice production," said Lowe, now GM of the Oilers.
"Like a lot of the great generals in wartime history, that's the best way to describe him."
Messier credits his father Doug for helping plant the seeds of that leadership.
"There's a lot of people that helped me along the way. Too many right now to name. But nobody can do it on their own, nobody can win a team sport on their own and nobody can be a leader on their own. And I had unbelievable help along the way."
The ties that bind these former Oilers are strong. Messier, Lowe and Oilers teammate Paul Coffey were all grooms at Gretzky's wedding.
Respect for Messier remains high, even though the Moose had slowed down in recent years.
"He's one of the best players to ever play the game and arguably the best leader ever in the game," said Toronto captain Mats Sundin.
Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish said Messier's intensity in the dressing room was not always put in the right context.
"The biggest misperception is that Mark would grab guys by the scruff of the neck to toe the line about commitment to the team. But he made every player feel like a winner. And for every player if you're treated like a winner, if you feel like a winner, then you do things indicative of a winner."
Off the ice, Messier was a hot property in New York. He drove a Bentley, dated models, met Madonna and appeared on David Letterman.
But a contract dispute led to another move, this time in 1997 to Vancouver where he spent three seasons.
In Vancouver, Trevor Linden yielded the captaincy to Messier. And the newly acquired star got to wear his No. 11, even though the Canucks had previously elected not to issue it out of respect for the late Wayne Maki.
Messier speaks warmly of those years, particularly his final season in Vancouver in 1999-2000. "One of the best experiences I've had in hockey."
"You could see a real team starting to form," he added.
Vancouver forward Todd Bertuzzi said being a teammate of Messier's for three seasons with the Canucks was a huge honour.
"You seem to see a lot of the older guys falling off right now," said Bertuzzi. "As a young guy coming in those were the guys you followed and respected.
"When Mark was here it was an exciting time for us. I remember as a kid he was one of the guys I looked up too. Being able to play with him was a huge honour for myself and a lot of guys who followed his lead."
Canuck captain Markus Naslund was asked what Messier passed on to him.
"How to keep a lockeroom tight," said Naslund, who took over as captain after Messier left Vancouver following the 1999 season. "How to make everyone feel important and show respect.
"It was a treat being around him for three years. Not only me but the team owes him a lot from all the stuff he taught us. He's going to go down as one of the all-time greats."
During his second stint in New York, which covered the final four seasons of his career, Messier and the Rangers failed to make the playoffs.
Messier's production went down. After a 67-point season in 2000-01, he averaged 35 points his last three seasons in New York with 106 points in 195 games.
While Messier won more in Edmonton, he felt a deep attachment to New York.
After Sept. 11, Messier and other Rangers visited Engine Company 74 in Manhattan. The hulking hockey superstar did more than just visit - he couldn't imagine what the rescue workers went through that day so he put on a firefighter's gear. "He wanted to see how tough it would be to carry the stuff up the stairs in the World Trade Centre," Rangers president Glen Sather was quoted by nhl.com.
While Messier is no longer a Ranger, his love affair with New York continues.
"It's something you can't describe unless you've actually lived in New York. It becomes a part of who you are. I love New York, I love the area. I love, obviously, the team."
He says he hears "every day" from Rangers fans about that '94 Cup win.
Messier talked to Lowe about a possible return to Edmonton this season, but opted for New York and then retirement.
The two-time league MVP (1990 and '92) leaves with 694 goals, 1,193 assists, 1,887 points and 1,910 penalty minutes in 1,756 games. He ranks second only to Gretzky in scoring.
The numbers don't really matter, he said.
"I've never really thought about any individual records or anything like that for most of my career," Messier said.
His final game was March 31, 2004. Messier scored but in keeping with the Rangers' slump in recent years, New York lost 4-3 to Buffalo.
Messier says he will stay in hockey in some capacity, hopefully with the Rangers. His family also beckons - he just had a baby three weeks ago, adding to a family that already includes a two-year-old and an 18-year-old who is playing hockey in Texas. "The plate's full," he said.
There are no regrets about leaving hockey.
"I just feel really good about the decision," Messier said. "I've had a year and a half to think about it. . . . It's the right thing to do."
The Rangers will retire Messier's number on Jan. 12, when the Oilers visit Madison Square Garden.

Monday, September 12, 2005

NHL Franchise Re-Location...Bring back the Jets

With the new CBA signed, sealed, and delivered for 6 years, the NHL looks poised to have 30 solid franchises during this new world of economic equality.  However, even if the team is a winner, some places are just not hockey markets.  These markets are Carolina, Phoenix, Anaheim, Washington, Florida, and Atlanta.  Buffalo is another example, which I will talk about later.  Since not all teams can be relocated, I will focus on a couple instead.
Washington will not be moved, NHL would like to have a team in the US Capital.  Now that the Great One is behind the bench, the league will not even think about moving the Coyotes.  The league will also not be moving the Ducks anytime soon.  They have new owners who want to make it work in the O.C.  Florida and Atlanta are wild cards in this because in their cases, an improved team may result in better fan attandence.  But if the Thrashers lose Kovalchuk, look out!  Losing their dynamic duo would have a severe impact on season tickets and fan support.  Florida has a natural rivalry with Tampa, so two fast skating teams can produce excitement in the state of Florida.
Teams to relocate:
My first example is the Carolina Hurricanes.  Moving from Hartford has not been any better for this franchise.  Since the Whalers moved to Carolina, I have never heard of a sellout at there games.  Except for their fluke Stanley Cup appearance (shame on the Leafs for that one), people just do not care.  Carolina is definitely a false hockey market.  This is why I would give the franchise 1-2 years of trying to make it work and be able to compete in the new economic world of the NHL. 
My second example, which is a hockey market, but financially probably do not have deep pockets to compete even in this new world.  This would be the Buffalo Sabres.  I mention the Sabres, because, the NHL feels that the other team in the "false" hockey markets are worth fighting for, especially in terms of getting a new national television contract.  That leaves the Sabres vulnerable.  Also, they have already been bailed out before.  In my opinion, they should have been relocated then.  Just look at the work the Sabres this off-season.  They lost there best offensivce forward in Satan, and their best defenceman in Zhitnik.  They will finish dead last in the North East division, and near the bottom in the conference and league.  Like the Hurricanes, they have 1-2 years.  Bettman has fought hard for these  teams to have a fair chance to compete.  However, if they have no money how can they compete?  Even at only $39 million dollars.
So where will they go?
The NHL has always been in love with the idea of putting a franchise in Seattle.  A team in Seattle is a going to be a given.  With natural rival in Vancouver, and strengthening their west coast television markets.  Seattle would be the first place to go for the NHL, and I predict that the Canes will be moved their first, and then putting the Seattle team in the NW Division.  Minnesota will be moved to the Central, and Detroit will then be moved into the Eastern Conference in the NE division.  Then one of these teams may be moved to the SE division.
The second choice to move to is of course, Winnipeg.  Can there be two relocations, or just one?  Its hard to say, especially if you want to keep balanced conferences geographically.  It might depend on whether the league wants to take a chance on Seattle or go somewhere where they know hockey is loved and they are just waiting for the chance to bring back the Jets.  If the Sabres fail first, they should move to Winnipeg, and then shift the RedWings to take the place of the Sabres in the NE division.
2 new teams:  Seattle (NW), Winnipeg(C) - Minnesota moves to the Central from the NW division.
Move to the Eastern Conference:  Detroit(NE) , Nashville(SE)

Sunday, September 11, 2005

2005-2006 Leaf Training Camp Roster (as of Sept 10, 2005)


Stumpy to tryout at Leafs Camp

Steve Thomas has accepted the Toronto Maple Leafs' invitation to attend camp on a tryout basis.

Sportsnet.ca -- With the Maple Leafs lacking both depth on the wings and veteran leadership, Toronto has added a familiar face to their training-camp roster.

Steve Thomas has accepted the Toronto Maple Leafs' invitation to attend camp on a tryout basis.
Thomas told Sportsnet, "My intention is to eventually sign a contract and play this season for the Toronto Maple Leafs."
In 2003-04, the Toronto native had 10 goals and 12 assists in 44 games while suiting up for the Detroit Red Wings.
This will be Thomas' third stint with his hometown squad. The fan-favourite began his career in a Leafs' uniform before spending time with the Wings, Blackhawks, Islanders and Devils. The veteran has played 20 seasons in the NHL netting 421 goals while setting up another 512
-thanks to www.sportsnet.ca

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Leafs sign defenceman Brad Brown

The Toronto Maple Leafs announced Saturday that the club has signed free agent defenceman Brad Brown to a one-year contract.
Terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Brown, 29, was captain of the Minnesota Wild for two months during the 2001-02 season, ranking second on the team in hits (120) and penalty minutes (90).
In 2003-04 he split the year between Minnesota and Buffalo collecting three assists with 66 penalty minutes in 43 games.
The native of Baie Verte, Newfoundland has played 330 career NHL games for Montreal, Chicago, the New York Rangers, Minnesota and Buffalo collecting 29 points (two goals, 27 assists) with 747 penalty minutes. He was originally Montreal's first choice, 18th overall in the 1994 Entry Draft.
-thanks to www.tsn.ca

Kovalchuk may play in Russia come October

ATLANTA (Ticker) - The Atlanta Thrashers parted ways with one of their two superstar forwards. They may be doing the same with their other shortly.
According to a report on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's website Saturday, restricted free agent Ilya Kovalchuk will begin pursuing a contract with a team in his native Russia.
Agent Jay Grossman told the Journal-Constitution a deal could be reached early next week. On August 23, the Thrashers traded right wing Dany Heatley to Ottawa for Marian Hossa and defenseman Greg de Vries.
Should he sign a contract with a Russian team, Kovalchuk - who made $1.13 million in 2003-04 - can negotiate freely with the Thrashers until October 5, the opening day of the NHL season. Beyond that date, the 22-year-old must clear waivers before returning to Atlanta, but he undoubtedly would be claimed by another team.
Atlanta general manager Don Waddell expressed his desire to reach an agreement with Kovalchuk but would not divulge the gap between the team's offer and the player's request.
"We want him in Atlanta, he wants to be in Atlanta. We're going to do everything we can to make it happen," Waddell told the newspaper on Friday. "I'd say we have a difference (in monetary demands) right now."
The first overall pick in the 2001 draft, Kovalchuk has been a dynamic offensive player for the Thrashers, collecting 108 goals and 205 points over his first three seasons. In 2003-04, the native of Tver made his first All-Star appearance and was a co-winner of the Maurice Richard Trophy after netting 41 goals in 81 games.
Kovalchuk scored 29 goals as a rookie in 2001-02 and increased the total by nine the following season. However, he has a tendency for defensive lapses, which have landed him on the bench for extended periods of time during games.
The Thrashers open training camp Monday and play their first exhibition game September 18 against Montreal. Atlanta begins the 2005-06 season at Florida on October 5.
-thanks to www.tsn.ca

Messier's Future?

It looks like the 2005-06 NHL season will begin without the league's second-leading scorer of all time.
According to the New York Post, Mark Messier is done playing after 25 seasons in the NHL.
Other newspaper reports say that the future Hall of Famer will not be reporting for a training camp physical with the New York Rangers on Monday, and may take the opportunity to announce his retirement from hockey.
Messier, who turns 45 in January, has not officially informed the Rangers of his decision.
His NHL career with the Edmonton Oilers, New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks has been decorated with endless awards, trophies and international accolades.

It looks like the 2005-06 NHL season will begin without the league's second-leading scorer of all time.
According to the New York Post, Mark Messier is done playing after 25 seasons in the NHL.
Other newspaper reports say that the future Hall of Famer will not be reporting for a training camp physical with the New York Rangers on Monday, and may take the opportunity to announce his retirement from hockey.
Messier, who turns 45 in January, has not officially informed the Rangers of his decision.
His NHL career with the Edmonton Oilers, New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks has been decorated with endless awards, trophies and international accolades.
-thanks to www.tsn.ca

Friday, September 09, 2005

The Hockey Buzz is Back!

Shane Doan may have to catch his breath Tuesday when he hits the ice at the Phoenix Coyotes' training camp and sees the greatest player in the history of the game back on skates but with a whistle in his mouth.
Training camps open around the NHL next week, with Wayne Gretzky beginning his coaching duties with the Coyotes in Glendale, Ariz.
"I just can't wait," Doan, the Phoenix captain, said Friday. "You feel like a little kid again because you haven't played in so long. Everyone's excited about that. But then you add the fact that every day Wayne Gretzky is going to be our coach _ that's pretty special."
Most of the league's 30 teams, 21 to be exact, officially open camp Monday while the rest will follow suit Tuesday or Wednesday.
There's a buzz around the league about the return of hockey, a stark contrast to a year ago Wednesday when commissioner Gary Bettman triggered the lockout, a labour fight that wiped out the entire 2004-05 season.
While the Coyotes are trying to accommodate a huge number of media requests for Gretzky's first day on the ice, there'll also be a crowd in Pittsburgh where phenom Sidney Crosby officially begins his NHL career.
Perhaps not getting enough attention are the Tampa Bay Lightning. Brad Richards, Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis begin their quest to defend the Stanley Cup championship they captured 15 months ago.
"The guys are all back here in Tampa and we're real excited," Richards said Friday. "The city's been unbelievable, very enthusiastic. It's pretty cool to see, the atmosphere hasn't changed."
A year without hockey apparently hasn't dulled the love affair between the Bolts and their fans.
"Everywhere we go, people are talking about opening night and the banner and defending our title," Richards said. "It used to be you could walk around here and do whatever you wanted. But it's a great buzz.
"Even compared to football it seems people are more interested in us."
In sunny Southern California, longtime King Luc Robitaille says the fans are also pumped.
"I know in L.A., the core fans are coming back, they're really excited," the 39-year-old winger said Friday. "I'm not sure we've gained the casual fans yet. We just need to compete, if we're one of the top teams, we'll draw a lot of new casual fans."
The 18-year NHL veteran can't wait for camp to start Monday.
"I feel like a little kid again, getting back into it, it's a lot of fun," he said.
In the Windy City, the Blackhawks have undergone a major face lift with the likes of Matthew Barnaby, Curtis Brown, Jassen Cullimore, Nikolai Khabibulin, Adrian Aucoin, Jaroslav Spacek, Martin Lapointe and Jim Dowd coming on board since Chicago ended the 2003-04 season out of the playoffs for the sixth time in seven years.
The fans have noticed the changes.
"There's a buzz in the city," Hawks GM Dale Tallon said Friday. "We're getting a lot of good coverage. Our fans are excited and our ticket sales are up.
"People are talking about us again, so that's good."
Tallon, who has held a number of different positions with the team over the years after playing for them, aggressively hit the free-agent market in the hope of resurrecting what was once one of the league's proudest franchises.
"This is my 28th year with the organization," he said. "It's been a long time coming. We have to get back to the status we used to have.
"There's been a lot of suffering here in recent years."
The Hawks could even possibly challenge Detroit in the Central Division. The Red Wings, who had the NHL's biggest payroll at more than $80 million US in 2003-04, had to trim down significantly to fit under the cap, buying out Derian Hatcher, Darren McCarty and Ray Whitney and not picking up Curtis Joseph's option.
GM Ken Holland has worked furiously at trying to make everything fit, and he's keeping his fingers crossed that star centre Pavel Datsyuk decides to return to Detroit instead of playing in Russia this season. The 27-year-old playmaker will make that decision over the weekend.
"His agent basically told me that Pavel would make his decision by Monday," Holland said Friday.
Holland started the week with news out of Russia that Datsyuk had signed a deal with a Russian club which had no out-clause but it now appears there's still a chance he'll return to Detroit if he decided to accept the Wings' offer.
"Anything that gives us a ray of hope that he might be in a Red Wings uniform is good news," said Holland.
The Philadelphia Flyers open camp Monday with high expectations after GM Bob Clarke deftly upgraded his roster with the additions of Peter Forsberg, Hatcher, Mike Knuble, Turner Stevenson and Mike Rathje - among others. Highly touted prospects Jeff Carter and Mike Richards will also likely make the team.
Forsberg (ankle) and Hatcher (left knee) will have to watch from the sidelines for two to three weeks but head coach Ken Hitchcock is still looking forward to moulding his new-look lineup starting Monday.
"You get pretty excited to work with the players," he said Friday. "Especially with us having half our team turn over, there's a high level of anticipation all over this city to see what happens."
Hitchcock said it's surreal right now in Philly.
"This is a very intense time in Philadelphia," Hitchcock said. "The Phillies are in a playoff race. The Eagles start up on Monday night. We open camp Monday. So sports is the buzz right now in this city. Everything is going on."
The Boston Bruins also have a drastically different lineup after a summer of free-agent signings brought the likes of Brian Leetch and Alexei Zhamnov to Beantown but they open camp Monday possibly without their No. 1 goalie and all-star defenceman.
Andrew Raycroft and Nick Boynton, both restricted free agents, remain unsigned. The Bruins only have about $5 million left under the $39-million salary cap to get both players under contract.
"We want both players back, hopefully we'll get that done," Bruins GM Mike O'Connell said Friday.
"We're not squeezing either one of these guys," he added. "We've offered them good money. They've been treated very fairly."
Both players will end up signing one-year deals, O'Connell said.
Raycroft's agent Jordan Neumann hopes Rick DiPietro's new $2.5-million, one-year deal with the New York Islanders will help cement his client's deal with Boston because both young goalies are of similar experience and statistics, but O'Connell dismissed that notion.
"No, it doesn't help at all, because it doesn't matter," O'Connell said. "Andrew is not at that stage yet where he's able to compare, he hasn't earned that right yet to compare contracts."
Mark Messier, meanwhile, has yet to make a final decision on his playing future. "There's nothing new to report today," New York Rangers spokesman John Rosasco said Friday.
-courtesy of www.tsn.ca

The Polish Prince...Czerkawski latest Leaf signing

The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed unrestricted free agent forward Mariusz Czerkawski to a one year contract.
Terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Czerkawski, 33, played 46 games for Djurgarden last season collecting 24 points with 20 penalty minutes, following a 49-point season with the New York Islanders in 2003-2004.
The native of Radomsko, Poland has played 710 career NHL games for Boston, Edmonton, Montreal and the New York Islanders collecting 425 points. He has scored 20 or more goals on six occasions in the NHL.
In 42 career NHL playoff games he has 15 points.
Czerkawski was originally Boston's fifth choice, 106th overall in the 1991 Entry Draft.
-thanks to www.tsn.ca for the report

EA Sports NHL 06 Reveiw for PS2

Hello video gamers out there. Here is my review of EA Sports NHL 06. I have only played EA hockey games. I have never truly enjoyed anything other than this franchise. However, the last two version 2004, and 2005 were without a doubt disappointments. Thank god NHL 06 stepped up and rekindeled the magic of playing hockey on PS2.

Game Play: 4.5/5

Overall, the best gameplay of all EA hockey games. They brought the fun back in scoring. Also, more importantly for me is the realistic player movements i.e. skating, turning, and pushing of the puck in front of the player while using the speed burst. The shooting and scoring animations are crisp. And I love the end of period highlight reel. Finally, the most important, the CPU doesn't go crazy on defence and hit everything in sight. You now have a chance to setup plays, fake out the goalie, nad setup for realistic one timers.

Roster Management: 3/5

The main drawback is, now Crosby and the other top rookies entering the league this year. No biggy, since they can be created. Also, what I find difficult is the line editor....to slow! In the free agent list, you are not able to sort by position, it's just one big alpha list. You cannot take players from the European Leagues.

Graphics: 5/5

Simply put, the most visiually appealing yet.

GUI Friendly: 4/5

Easy to use but slow in selecting teams, to play with, and to manage lineups, and very slow when saving to mem card. Otherwise, very good.

Cool Stuff: 5/5

Mini game to practise your skills
The skill stick for star player
Highlight reel package at the end of the periods
NHL 94

Total: 21.5/25 = 86%

NHL tidbits

Here is what is going on in the league the last couple of days. Thanks to tsn.ca, sportsnet.ca and various other resources.

Sportsnet.ca -- If nothing else, the Toronto Maple Leafs will be experienced.
Sportsnet has learned Maple Leafs GM John Ferguson has extended an invitation to NHL veteran forward Mike Keane to attend next week's camp.The 38-year-old is well noted for his defensive abilities and leadership qualities which proved invaluable to Montreal, Colorado and Dallas; all teams which have won Stanley Cup Championships with Keane in their lineup.Sources tell Sportsnet Toronto has yet to make a contract offer, however Lewis Gross, Keane's agent confirms the two sides have been talking.Like Steve Thomas, it is believed the Maple Leafs would rather Keane show up as a walk-on and battle for a spot on the roster before a contract is offered, but for a player with Keane's resume, who's already been through that experience in 2003 with Vancouver, he's unlikely to report under those conditions.John Ferguson and Mike Keane have a history as the pair grew up and played minor hockey together in Winnipeg, where Keane currently resides with his family. --->Looks to me JFK likes helping out his own friends! I'd rather have Stumpy (Steve Thomas) back, with his clutch scoring and passion for the blue & white.

The Boston Bruins are downright giddy about their chances this NHL season after a busy period of free-agent signings, but two of their core players remain unsigned with training camp days away.
No. 1 goalie Andrew Raycroft and all-star defenceman Nicholas Boynton are restricted free agents who have yet to find a resolution with GM Mike O'Connell.
"They made a one-year offer that we don't see as being even close to being fair value," Boynton's agent Anton Thun said Thursday. "Where are we right now? I'm not sure."
Boynton, 26, is two years away from possible unrestricted free agency. The Bruins declined to pick up a $1.9-million US option on Boynton. He then rejected a $1.33-million qualifying offer.
A call to O'Connell was not immediately returned Thursday.---> I can't see the Bruins do anything if they don't bring back their #1 goalie and their big physical defenceman.

The Florida Panthers have yet to re-sign centre Olli Jokinen, their top scorer from the last two seasons, as training camp approaches.
"Absolutely nothing is happening," Todd Diamond, who represents Jokinen along with Mark Gandler, said Thursday. "We're waiting to hear from them. I don't know what they're doing. We've heard nothing from them for probably close to a week now."
Panthers GM Mike Keenan said he's had talks with Gandler over the last few weeks - including last Friday - and plans to get back to him in the near future.
"I needed time to review our financial situation and some of the things we discussed in terms of what approach we might take with Olli and what would work best for both sides," Keenan said Thursday. "That's really how it's been left. I said I would get back to him by the end of this week."
Jokinen, 26, earned $2 million US in 2003-04 when he had 26 goals and 32 assists for 58 points, tops on the struggling Panthers, but down from the career-high 65 points and 36 goals he put up in 2002-03. At issue is not only the raise that Jokinen is looking for, but also the fact he can become an unrestricted free agent next summer should he play under a one-year deal this season.
For Jokinen to forego that privilege, the Panthers will need to ante up. The Panthers could get him cheaper under a one-year deal but then risk losing him.----> Looks to Iron Mike might be a busy GM this season. He might not make any moves until prior to the start of camp, or the season, but I just have a feeling. Especially with the Luongo situation and now with Jokinen. More on my trade feelings later

Mariusz Czerkawski has told a Polish newspaper that a deal with Toronto is all but done he just needs to a pass his physical and he'll be a Maple Leaf. We've heard this tune before, somebody else is covering it now. Didn't Anson Carter take a physical with Toronto? Czerkawski would be excellent on the left wing with Sundin and Jeff O'Neill on the right, great first line. Deal could be announced over the weekend.---> Looks to be a interesting move. I have always missed the excitment and chaos Sergei Berezin brought....all he wanted to do was skate with the puck and shoot...and never pass! Teams need a guy like that....one that just wants to shoot and score.