Monday, January 29, 2007

5 Forwards that can move by the tradeline

Peter Forsberg, Philadelphia: If he's healthy -- and willing -- the former Hart Trophy winner will draw plenty of interest from the Wings, the New York Rangers, Montreal, Vancouver and Atlanta, among others.
Shane Doan, Phoenix: He's the captain in Phoenix and sounds like he wants to stay where he has spent the last decade. If that's the case, the better bet to be sent packing is enigmatic teammate Ladislav Nagy.
Ryan Smyth, Edmonton: The Oilers can't afford to get rid of the face of their franchise. But can they afford his $5 million-plus salary if they don't make the playoffs this season?
Todd Bertuzzi, Phoenix: Assuming he returns to the lineup next month after back surgery in November, Bertuzzi could be dangled by the Panthers, who probably don't like their chances of re-signing him.
Jason Blake, New York Islanders: The team says it wants to keep him, and Blake says he wants to stay. But the speedy winger is due for a big raise after an All-Star season, so getting something in writing might be easier said than done.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Kansas City, Pittsburgh woo Penguins

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Penguins owner Mario Lemieux emerged from a ''very positive'' meeting with Gov. Ed Rendell and local leaders Thursday night without hinting whether the team will stay or move to Kansas City.
Hours after touring the under-construction Sprint Center in Kansas City, Lemieux returned to Pittsburgh for his first in-person meeting with government officials since a plan to fund a $290 million arena with casino money was rejected. Neither side offered specifics about the so-called Plan B deal to build a replacement for Mellon Arena, but Lemieux did not appear disappointed by the talks.
''Hopefully, we'll move forward in the next week or so and really evaluate where we're going. but I'm very pleased with both meetings today,'' Lemieux said. ''I've always been very optimistic (about staying in Pittsburgh). I've been here for 20-some years. But we have to evaluate all of our options and that's why we went to Kansas City to look at what they had to offer.''
Rendell did not talk to reporters after the meeting, but Allegheny County chief executive Dan Onorato said, ''It was very productive, very productive. ... We're going to continue to negotiate and, hopefully, the next time you hear from all of us we can give you details.''
Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said another meeting with the Penguins has not been planned, but that discussions would continue. Both sides promised they would not negotiate in public.

Lemieux, one of most popular figures in Pittsburgh sports history, does not want to move the franchise - and the NHL does not want to abandon the city - unless there is no other option. But after seven unsuccessful years seeking a new arena, he is negotiating from a position of strength because of Kansas City's strong bid.
The Penguins, one of pro sports' hottest properties because of young stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, would pay no construction costs or rent in Kansas City. They also would become partners in the building, and thus gain access to all revenues streams, with no payment required. Initially, a US$27 million payment for those rights was discussed.
The initial Plan B proposal in Pittsburgh, made last March, called for the Penguins to pay $8.5 million up front, plus about $4 million per year. However, the Kansas City offer is all but certain to force Pittsburgh to offer a more lucrative deal, and Rendell said before Thursday's meeting there would be a more aggressive offer.
Earlier in the day, Lemieux, billionaire partner Ron Burkle and team president Ken Sawyer toured the $276 million Sprint Center, which is due to open in October without an anchor major sports team tenant.
William (Boots) Del Biaggio III, a San Jose-based venture capitalist and Lemieux acquaintance who nearly bought the Penguins in 2005, is expected to buy the team if it moves to Kansas City. He and Lemieux are partners in a minor league hockey team.
''We are not trying to steal the Penguins,'' Tim Leiweke, president of Anschutz Entertainment Group, said. ''We have been very respectful of their process. We understand that this is Pittsburgh's to lose, and we respect that.''
Leiweke expects a decision quickly. Lemieux is free to move the team after the Penguins' Mellon Arena lease expires in June.
''We will know within 30 days whether they are going to work out their issues in Pittsburgh and get an arena built, or whether they will ask the NHL for permission to move the team to Kansas City,'' Leiweke said.
Leiweke also said the new arena ''blew the Penguins away,'' but added, ''I don't think they want to move that team.''
The NHL has given every sign it wants the Penguins to stay in Pittsburgh, where it has played to nearly 94 per cent of capacity this season, as long as a new arena is built. Canadian businessman Jim Balsillie had a deal in place to buy the team last month, only to pull out on the apparent closing date when the NHL told him he couldn't relocate the team.
That pullout came only days before a plan in which Isle of Capri Casinos would build a $290 million arena for free if granted the license to build a downtown slots machine parlour was turned down by the state gaming board. It chose one of two competing bids, by Detroit businessman Don Barden, who has agreed to pay $7.5 million a year toward a new arena but won't totally fund it.
Kansas City had an NHL team from 1974-76, but it moved because of low attendance. That team spent six years in Denver as the Colorado Rockies, but moved to New Jersey and was renamed the Devils in 1982. Kansas City also lost an NBA team it shared with Omaha to Sacramento.

Jason Allison Playing the waiting Game

It seems like every time a forward in the NHL goes down with an injury, Jason Allison's name pops up as a possible replacement.
For the record, Allison would like to play again. But he's not about to jump at just any offer.
"If you look at my career, I've been a point-per-game player every year," said Allison, who had 17 goals and 60 points in 66 games with Toronto last season, in an interview with The Hockey News Thursday. "Some years I'm just under a point-per-game; other years I'm over. I know I probably won't get the money (now) that I think I deserve, but I've made a lot of money in my career and I'm not in a position where I have to jump at the first offer that comes my way."
Allison continues to work out wondering if that perfect situation will arise. In the meantime, he says family obligations will play a big part in whether or not he elects to continue his paying career. He has his children part-time.
Allison missed the 2004-05 season with a neck injury and, of course, the following year when the league shut down because of a labor dispute. He says he skated only a handful of times before joining the Leafs.

Never a quick player to begin with, Allison immediately got into the bad books of Leafs fans when he skated in very slowly during a shootout and failed to score. He found out quickly what other Leafs players knew before him - once the fans get a bone, they never let it go.
"Last year wasn't as much fun as it could have been," Allison acknowledges. "But I still think I bring other things than scoring to the table. I'll fight if I have to. I'm not just one of those guys trying to get his points."
Chances are, because he has not played this season, no team will take a chance on him. But it must be deliciously tempting for a team that needs additional scoring to know a player with the desire to play, and one who has 485 points in 552 career games, is out there waiting for the call.