Wednesday, May 24, 2006

PHX Off-Season Preview

GM/COACHMike Barnett/Wayne Gretzky
FORWARDSReturning: Shane Doan, Mike Johnson, Steve Reinprecht, Dave Scatchard, Mike Ricci, Tyson Nash
Free Agents: Ladislav Nagy (RFA), Mike Comrie (RFA), Oleg Saprykin (RFA), Fredrik Sjostrom (RFA), Josh Gratton (RFA), Oleg Kvasha (UFA), Boyd Devereaux (UFA), Geoff Sanderson (UFA)
Top Prospects: Bill Thomas, Blake Wheeler, Martin Hanzal, Enver Lisin
DEFENCEReturning: Derek Morris, Zbynek Michalek, Keith Ballard
Free Agents: Paul Mara (RFA), Dennis Seidenberg (RFA), Matthew Spiller (RFA), Jamie Rivers (UFA)
Top Prospects: Matt Jones, Logan Stephenson, Keith Yandle
Free Agents: David LeNeveu (RFA), Philippe Sauve (RFA), Curtis Joseph (UFA)
Top Prospects: Pier-Olivier Pelletier
FREE AGENCYone top six forward, one defencemen, starting goaltender
TRADE MARKETComrie, Mara, Saprykin

Shero says no to GM position with Bruins

It seems Ray Shero isn't going to be the general manager for the Boston Bruins after all.
The Providence Journal reports that Shero, who was offered the position over the weekend, is asking the team for too much money and negotiations have broken down.
The Bruins were also interested in Ottawa Senators assistant GM Peter Chiarelli, who now emerges as a lead candidate.
Shero, 43, worked in stints as an assistant GM for the Ottawa Senators and Nashville Predators over the past 14 seasons.
According to the reports, Shero and his wife met with team president Harry Sinden and executive vice president Charlie Jacobs, the son of club owner Jeremy Jacobs last week. Shero has been the Predators' assistant GM for the past eight NHL seasons.

The Pittsburgh Penguins were also reportedly interested in Shero's services.
Ray is the son of the late Fred Shero, who coached the Philadelphia Flyers to back-to-back Cups in 1974 and 1975.
He worked as a player agent before joining the Ottawa Senators in 1993 and spent six years as assistant GM. Shero joined the Predators in 1998.

Chelios re-signs for 1 year

Chris Chelios will be back for another NHL season, as the 44-year-old defenceman has signed a one-year contract with the Detroit Red Wings.
According to the Detroit Free Press, the deal will pay him $850,000 next season.
Chelios will be entering his 22nd NHL campaign in 2006-07 and his seventh full season in Detroit.
In 1,476 career games, he has 182 goals and 925 points.
Chelios was a member of the Montreal Canadiens' Stanley Cup winning team in 1986 and became the first American-born player to win the Norris Trophy as the league's best defenseman in the 1989-90.
He won two more Norris Trophies during while in Chicago and led the team in points during the 1995-96 season.
Chelios helped Detroit win the Stanley Cup in 2002.

Francois Giguere announced as Avs new GM

DENVER (Ticker) - Francois Giguere is returning to his roots.
Giguere was named the new general manager-executive vice president of the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday.
The move comes less than two weeks after Pierre Lacroix resigned as the club's GM.
In Colorado, Giguere takes over a team that finished second in the Northwest Division with 95 points and was swept in the Western Conference semifinals by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.
"When we listed all the necessary attributes for this position, one name became clear in our mind," said Lacroix, who has remained the club's president. "Francois embodies all the requirements a strong executive needs in today's NHL. His knowledge of our industry and its many complicated elements together with his understanding of this organization and our expectations each season make him an ideal candidate to lead this franchise in the coming years."

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Richards strikes Lightning in Tampa

(CP) -- The Tampa Bay Lightning signed their top playmaker to a long-term deal Monday -- and he didn't come cheap.The Lightning inked centre Brad Richards to a $39-million US, five-year contract extension, making him the second-highest paid player in the NHL. The 26-year-old made $3.4 million this season, and could have taken the team to salary arbitration in the off-season. He was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of next season, but said he had no intentions of leaving Tampa."I didn't want to put in a long summer dealing with this," Richards said Monday from Tampa, Fla. "I had my mind pretty much set that I wanted to be here. I didn't want to start a war. It just went really well."The slick passer will average $7.8 million over the course of his new deal. Only New York Rangers forward Jaromir Jagr ($8.36 million) draws a bigger paycheque -- heady company for a player with just five NHL seasons under his belt.

NYI Off-Season Preview

GM/COACHVacant/Brad Shaw (interim)
FORWARDSReturning: Miroslav Satan, Alexei Yashin, Jason Blake, Shawn Bates, Robert Nilsson, Jeff Tambellini
Free Agents: Mike York (RFA), Trent Hunter (RFA), Arron Asham (RFA), Sean Bergenheim (RFA), Wyatt Smith (UFA)
Top Prospects: Petteri Nokelainen, Ryan O'Marra, Jeremy Colliton, Blake Comeau
DEFENCEReturning: Alexei Zhitnik, Chris Campoli, Radek Martinek, Bruno Gervais
Free Agents: Denis Grebeshkov (RFA), John Erskine (RFA), Joel Bouchard (UFA)
Top Prospects: Dustin Kohn, Wes O'Neill
GOALTENDINGReturning: Garth Snow
Free Agents: Rick DiPietro (RFA), Wade Dubielewicz (UFA)
Top Prospect: Sylvain Michaud
FREE AGENCYtwo top six forwards, two top four defencemen
TRADE MARKETSatan, Zhitnik

Minnesota Wild Off-Season Preview
GM/COACHDoug Risebrough/Jacques Lemaire
FORWARDSReturning: Brian Rolston, Todd White, Wes Walz, Mattias Weinhandl, Stephane Veilleux
Free Agents: Marian Gaborik (RFA), Pierre-Marc Bouchard (RFA), Pascal Dupuis (RFA), Mikko Koivu (RFA), Kyle Wanvig (RFA), Brent Burns (RFA), Derek Boogaard (RFA), Marc Chouinard (UFA), Randy Robitaille (UFA)
Top Prospects: Patrick O'Sullivan, Roman Voloshenko, Benoit Pouliot, Danny Irmen
DEFENCEReturning: Martin Skoula, Nick Schultz
Free Agents: Kurtis Foster (RFA), Alex Henry (RFA), Andrei Zyuzin (UFA), Filip Kuba (UFA), Daniel Tjarnqvist (UFA)
Top Prospects: Erik Reitz, A.J. Thelen
GOALTENDINGReturning: Manny Fernandez
Free Agents: Josh Harding (RFA)
Top Prospects: Miroslav Kopriva
DRAFT9thOilers' first-round pick
FREE AGENCYone-two top six forwards, two-three top four defencemen
TRADE MARKETGaborik, Dupuis

L.A. Kings Preview for Off-Season

FORWARDSReturning: Pavol Demitra, Craig Conroy, Alexander Frolov, Derek Armstrong, Tom Kostopoulos, Jeff Cowan, George Parros
Free Agents: Mike Cammalleri (RFA), Eric Belanger (RFA), Dustin Brown (RFA), Sean Avery (RFA), Mark Parrish (UFA), Jeremy Roenick (UFA), Valeri Bure (UFA)
Top Prospects: Anze Kopitar, Lauri Tukonen, Konstantin Pushkarev
DEFENCEReturning: Lubomir Visnovsky, Mattias Norstrom, Brent Sopel, Aaron Miller, Nathan Dempsey
Free Agents: Tim Gleason (RFA), Mike Weaver (RFA), Joe Corvo (UFA)
Top Prospect: Richard Petiot
GOALTENDINGReturning: Jason LaBarbera
Free Agents: Mathieu Garon (RFA)
Top Prospect: Barry Brust
FREE AGENCYtwo top six forwards, one top four defenceman
TRADE MARKETAvery, Garon, Cammalleri

Melnyk says Sens to be Dynasty! one first, then we'll see about the dynasty

At the start of the 2005-06 NHL season, Eugene Melnyk handed out coffee mugs to the Ottawa Senators' front office staff with the ultimatum, "Failure is not an option."
And it appears that the team's owner will be using that slogan for the forseeable future.
In a column e-mailed to fans and posted on the team's official website, Melnyk said he had full confidence in Senators president Roy Mlakar and general manager John Muckler and promised to build a Stanley Cup dynasty in the nation's capital.
"I firmly believe the Ottawa Senators will not only win the Stanley Cup, but we will build a team with the talent and drive to hoard that Cup year after year in the playoffs," he wrote.
"I guarantee that you have never seen the level of determination that is about to go into putting together our 2006-2007 season. And I guarantee that I will not rest until Ottawa becomes the hockey Mecca of the NHL. I've been accused in the past of harbouring unbridled optimism, but I'll tell you this - I always deliver."

Red Wings sign Swedish Goaltending Prospect

The Detroit Red Wings will have added some goaltending depth for training camp this fall, signing Swedish goaltender Stefan Liv to a one-year contract.
Liv was a fourth-round pick by the Red Wings in 2000.
Wings general manager Ken Holland is in Latvia for the World Hockey Championship and told Swedish reporters on Saturday that Liv will compete for a spot on the team's roster next season.
If he doesn't earn a spot on the roster, he'll play for Grand Rapids in the AHL.
Liv has spent the last seven seasons playing for HV71 of the Swedish Elite League, and is a three-time member of Sweden's national team for the World Championships and was a reserve for the Swedes at this year's Olympics.

Marc Crawford . . . The New King of Kings!

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) - Marc Crawford brings a demanding style and a winning resume to his new job as coach of the Los Angeles Kings.
Crawford was introduced Monday as the replacement for John Torchetti, who coached the season's final 12 games after Andy Murray was fired.
Crawford signed a multi-year deal. Terms weren't disclosed.
"We're going to continue to build on the strengths that they've had in here," he said. "It is a talented group. I look forward to hopefully helping some of the players make strong improvements in their game."
And make the playoffs, which the Kings missed for a third consecutive season after finishing 42-35-5.

Bringing Crawford aboard was the first major move by Kings general manager Dean Lombardi, hired last month to succeed Dave Taylor.
"This is not only a guy who knows how to win, but also knows how to get the best out of his players," said Lombardi, who spent 36 hours with Crawford last week.
"What impressed me the most was his willingness to admit he made mistakes and his willingness to admit he didn't have the answers yet, but he was going to find them," Lombardi said.
Crawford himself is fresh off being fired by the Vancouver Canucks in April after seven years that included four consecutive playoff appearances before missing this season.
He has a regular-season record of 411-285-127 in 12 seasons in the NHL, and a 43-40 playoff mark.
The 46-year-old Crawford guided Colorado to the 1996 Stanley Cup championship, when Peter Forsberg, Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy played for him. Crawford becomes the first coach in Kings' history to have a Stanley Cup on his resume.
"I'm a different coach from Andy Murray. I say that with all respect," he said. "I'm very passionate about what I do, I'm very inclusive in how I perform my duties as a head coach, and most of all, I want players and people around me who work hard, who are creative.
"I expect a lot from my players, I'm very demanding."
Crawford promised the Kings will pressure both ends of the ice.
Centre Craig Conroy described himself as "very impressed" with Crawford's resume.
"I saw what he did in Vancouver, how he kind of resurrected that whole team and the way the team responded, it's so positive," Conroy said. "It seems like he makes everybody on the team accountable, too, and that's what we really need here."
Crawford said the deciding factor in taking the job was the shared philosophy between him, Lombardi, team owner Phillip Anshutz and Tim Leiweke, who gave up his title as chief executive officer so Lombardi could have freer rein in running the team.
"I have a strong sense of commitment from Mr. Anshutz and Tim Leiweke and most of all from Dean that he was going to do things the right way," Crawford said. "We weren't going to put Band-Aids on problems."
Lombardi has met with the entire team in his first month on the job.
Asked his assessment of what went wrong last season, he said, "It was a series of molehills that were allowed to continue to brew and then finally it just collapsed."
Injuries contributed to the Kings' demise after they started the season strongly, then the infighting began.
"When things started to go south, there were arguments here, arguments there. Everyone is kind of pointing the finger," Conroy said. "That's what we (have) got to get away from. We just let it snowball and it got worse and we couldn't get out of it."
Crawford emphasizes building strong relationships with his players. While spending time last week with Lombardi, Crawford's phone rang with a call from Vancouver forward Todd Bertuzzi.
"I found that really impressive that he would take the time to call his coach," Lombardi said.
Bertuzzi is being sued in a Canadian civil court by former Colorado player Steve Moore, who was seriously injured after being punched by Bertuzzi in a 2004 game. Bertuzzi pleaded guilty to assaulting Moore.
Crawford had dealt with the fallout from Bertuzzi's actions.
"You don't lose a job because of one thing that happened," he said. "Todd was very, very uncharacteristically saddled with that responsibility. It's not true."
The Kings have 11 players who are free agents, and Conroy said he feels a mix of optimism and nervousness about who will be around next season.
"You hope they don't overhaul the team completely," he said. "If you add a few players to our team, we're going to be right in the thick of things next year."

Sunday, May 14, 2006

GM Lacroiz steps down in Colorado

DENVER (AP) - A lifetime in hockey has both robbed and rewarded Pierre Lacroix, who stepped down as general manger of the Colorado Avalanche on Friday, one day after his team was swept from the playoffs.
''I can say I'm 58 and I'm 88 inside,'' Lacroix said. ''For 40 years I've been involved in a field that I love and my family did a lot of sacrificing, and I think it's time for me to give back.''
Lacroix will remain president of the team and will appoint the new GM, who will basically serve as his apprentice.
''I'm going to be involved. I'm going to be doing everything I can to make sure this team wins for another decade,'' said Lacroix, who built the Avs teams that won two Stanley Cup championships.
Lacroix and owner Stan Kroenke said they decided before the lockout that wiped out the 2004-05 season that Lacroix would spend one more year as GM.

Paul Maurice is the new bench boss in Toronto

TORONTO (CP) - Paul Maurice was three months old when the Toronto Maple Leafs last won the Stanley Cup.
He fully understands the challenge he's accepted as the 26th head coach in franchise history. Perhaps only after the Chicago Cubs, there isn't a fan base more hungry for a championship than in Toronto.
"In this market it's pretty simple, you win or lose and there's no grey area in there," the 39-year-old Maurice said Friday after being officially introduced at Air Canada Centre.
"You're judged every game here, shift by shift as a matter of fact."
The former Carolina Hurricanes head coach got a glimpse of what his future entailed last week while at home in Windsor, Ont.
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"I'm walking in a mall and I have a guy from a wireless store yelling at me about the leadership of the club and who I should give an `A' to," said Maurice. "And at that point I'm not even coach of the Leafs yet. So I have a sense this is a little bit different."
His hiring was hardly a surprise. He was next in line to replace Pat Quinn the moment GM John Ferguson hired him to coach the AHL's Toronto Marlies last year. While Ferguson did interview two other candidates - Marc Crawford and Andy Murray - Maurice was always destined to be his man.
"I did know from the day Paul was brought in here to coach the Marlies his capabilities as an NHL head coach," said Ferguson, who fired Quinn on April 20.
"He is the ideal candidate and far and away the best fit."
And he was in demand. Other NHL clubs called the Leafs wondering about Maurice but Ferguson wouldn't let them near him.
"I heard from a number of my peers throughout the league to that effect - and it wasn't solely limited to the last couple of weeks," said Ferguson.
The Vancouver Canucks, a source confirmed Friday, did not call about Maurice. Their coaching search continues.
Maurice said his contract with Toronto had a clause that gave the Leafs first crack at him in terms of an NHL job. And that was fine with him.
"In your heart, you have a place you want to be. I wanted to be here," said Maurice.
As first impressions go, Maurice passed with flying colours before a packed news conference. His sense of humour was on full display, something he'll need to count on during the tough times that may lay ahead.
This isn't Carolina, where only two or three reporters cover the team on a daily basis. Maurice will get 15-30 media every single day and get asked the same questions over and over again. His predecessor, Quinn, showed terrific patience with this aspect and Maurice will need to do the same.
Spending a year in this market as the AHL coach was a nice way for him to get acclimatized, even if his team didn't get that much attention.
On the ice, Maurice has a vision of a Leafs team that can skate and play in the new NHL much like Buffalo, Anaheim and San Jose.
"I think the game you're seeing now at the NHL level is far more up tempo. up pace. You see a lot more two-man forecheck, a more aggressive game," said the new coach.
"I believe that's the style of game that will best suit the Toronto Maple Leafs, it's something that we started playing with Marlies this past season."
Maurice guided the AHL team to a 41-29-4-6 record. But perhaps the greatest compliment to his coaching skills was how his young players performed when called up by the Leafs, players such as Jay Harrison, Ian White and Ben Ondrus. They did the little things well, a sign of well-coached and well-prepared players.
"He's a better coach today than he was a year ago," Ferguson said of Maurice. "This hiring is a critical and key step in positioning us back to where we need to be next season and beyond."
It's not clear at this point who Maurice will have as his assistants. Keith Acton was kept on board after the Quinn and Rick Ley firings, but it remains to be seen what his future holds.
"We're going to sit down with Keith and make a determination," said Ferguson. "We're going to discuss staffing at both levels."
Acton would be a good fit as the AHL head coach.

Blow Up the Sens!!! Senators left looking for answers...Again

OTTAWA (CP) - The Ottawa Senators were looking to make history, but instead they found themselves repeating it.
Ottawa watched its playoff hopes fall short again as they were defeated 3-2 in overtime by the Buffalo Sabres in Game 5 the Eastern Conference semifinals Saturday. The Sabres won the series 4-1.
Touted as Stanley Cup favourites from the start of the season, the Senators now find themselves trying to explain how and why they fell short yet again.
One could easily give the Senators the moniker of chokers having yet to find a way to shed their playoff demons and there will undoubtedly be changes made in the face of this most recent failure.
''Certainly we had enough going for us,'' said Senators coach Bryan Murray. ''We could have gone deeper in the playoffs, but they found a way.''
The Senators were the highest scoring team in the regular season, but managed just 13 goals against the Sabres and six of those were in Game 1.
The difference in this series was that Ottawa's top scorers failed to provide the necessary offence.
Dany Heatley had one goal and one assist in the series, Daniel Alfredsson had one goal and four assists, while Jason Spezza had three goals and one assist.
''The right people weren't scoring goals for us,'' Murray said.
Players were quick to say they would like to see the same group return, but realize with the business of the game it isn't likely to happen.
''We have a lot of talent, a lot of good personnel in here and it's disappointing to blow a chance because you never know when you're going to have a team that has a chance to win,'' said forward Mike Fisher.
The turning point may have come after the very first game, when the Senators gave up the lead five different times to eventually lose 7-6 in overtime.
''We thought we should have won those games,'' Fisher said. ''We made some difficult mistakes. We gave them what they got and it kind of gave them the confidence that they could win. I think they strived on that.''
Having made so many mistakes, Ottawa began to play a more cautious style and never seemed to find their own game again until it was almost too late.
Down 3-0 in the series, Ottawa won Game 4 and were optimistic that they still had a chance to turn things around.
''There was a feeling around the rink the last couple of days that we were more than optimistic, we were confident,'' goalie Ray Emery said. ''We came out hard, but, I don't know, it's short again.''
The Senators played well enough to win Saturday night, but once again fell short in overtime.
''They won the series because they outplayed us in overtime three times, that was the series,'' Murray said. ''When you lose three games in overtime it's pretty tough.''

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Report says Leafs want Paul Maurice

According to a published report, Toronto Maple Leafs general manager John Ferguson plans to meet with Toronto Marlies coach Paul Maurice about the club's head coaching job.
The Toronto Star reports that Maurice remains the only candidate for the job, and Ferguson has yet to speak to any other potential candidates for the job.
"That is accurate," Ferguson told the Star, when asked if he would be meeting Maurice this week. "I expect we will have a coach in place before any of the teams looking for managers have their managers in place."
Maurice went 41-29-6-4 with the Leafs AHL affiliate this season.

Hockey Headlines - May 11, 2006

Forsberg out until January
Report: Leafs want Maurice to coach
Report: Gretzky, Coyotes keep negotiating
Maple Leafs' O'Neill undergoes surgery
Lupul scores four, Ducks beat Avs in OT
Flyers' Hatcher, Stevenson have surgery
Flyers Gagne to have hip surgery
Alfredsson puts on brave face in Buffalo
Hurricanes not ready to rest on laurels
Predators sign first-rounder Parent
Kasparaitis to undergo shoulder surgery
Connolly leaves game after stiff check
Habs' Koivu has successful eye surgery
More Headlines >>

Playoff Recap

The Edmonton Oilers forced the San Jose Sharks to play the longest game in their history Wednesday, and then they broke their hearts. Shawn Horcoff scored his second playoff goal at the 2:24 minute of triple overtime to propel the Oilers to a 3-2 win over the Sharks in NHL playoff action. FULL STORY...
NHL Insiders I

Dumont's OT strike puts Sens in 3-0 hole
Jean-Pierre Dumont scored 5:05 into sudden death to provide the Buffalo Sabres with a 3-2 victory Wednesday and a shocking 3-0 series lead over the top-seeded Ottawa Senators.

Hurricanes take 3-0 series lead on Devils
Rod Brind'Amour got his stick on Eric Staal's long shot during a power play and sent the puck hopping between Martin Brodeur's pads late in the second period on Wednesday night to give the Carolina Hurricanes a 3-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils.