Archive for July, 2011

Skating around: Huselius’s pecs, Max’s rehab, Preds’ gold and a dirty man

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Solid gold: Nashville and the Predators will be showing their new colors next season. (Mark Humphrey/AP)

By Stu Hackel

Let’s take a skate around the NHL and look at some news on this summer day.

The biggest item comes out of Columbus, well, Sweden actually, where Blue Jackets forward Kristian Huselius, who was recovering from April hip surgery, tore a pectoral muscle while weightlifting and will miss four to six months. He had surgery Thursday morning in Columbus and is lost to the club until November at the earliest, January at the latest. GM Scott Howson tweeted that “surgery went well,” and added “We r looking at options to help get us through.” Read More…


  • Published On Jul 14, 2011
  • Will head shots decline under new Rule 48?

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    Montreal’s Michael Cammalleri is all for a good, hard physical game, but wants hitters to take a lot more responsibility for headshots. (Winslow Townson/AP)

    By Stu Hackel

    The NHLPA staged a golf outing this week not far from Toronto and the most prominent tidbits to emerge in the media were from the impromptu remarks that Executive Director Donald Fehr made forecasting the future of labor relations. Last week, we noted that the mini-orgy of front-loaded, long-term contracts that teams have recently doled out could well prompt some owners to press for changes during the next CBA negotiations. Given the fact that teams can’t seem to control themselves when it comes to spending, these proposals could be more exacting than the current system that the league achieved by locking out the players for the 2004-05 season, and we wondered if more labor unrest was on the horizon.

    Fehr’s remarks were meant to be reassuring (TSN video and a complete transcript from Sean Fitz-Gerald in The National Post). He downplayed the potential for a clash with team owners over the deals in question or that the cap floor is too high and forces low revenue teams to spend beyond their means. And he added, “The hockey players and the fans suffered through that seven years ago, and the owners achieved what they wanted to achieve. So, hopefully, that’s behind us.”

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  • Published On Jul 13, 2011
  • Uncertainty grips Devils in the modern world

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    Lou Lamoriello (right) has had a devil of time assembling a Stanley Cup contender in the hard salary cap era and his last choice for head coach, John MacLean (left) proved to be disastrous. (Bill Kostroun/AP)

    By Stu Hackel

    This might be the week that the New Jersey Devils hire a new head coach. Then again, maybe not. As with most things surrounding the Devils, little is clear and little is known. They are starting their development camp today (which was not even mentioned this morning the team’s website, but is now) and that may inhibit GM Lou Lamoriello from selecting someone to head up the coaching staff this week. Or not.
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  • Published On Jul 11, 2011
  • Kostityn’s contract, the Caps’ cap, the new Blues, and more

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    By Stu Hackel

    Once upon a time, the hockey world closed down for the summer. Really. Some teams just turned off the lights, locked the door and took vacation. They did no business for a month. The players had to get summer jobs. Some drove trucks, some worked on farms, some did promotional work in the better hockey markets. No more. The players don’t have to work, but they do work out. As for the hockey business, it never ends. The NHL really no longer has an offseason. There just aren’t any games being played. But lots is going on right now, including many teams holding development camps for their prospects and recent draftees. Read More…


  • Published On Jul 08, 2011
  • Ladd wants to change minds on Winnipeg, more notes

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    By Stu Hackel

    The whirlwind pace of NHL transactions slowed only a little on Tuesday as the Coyotes re-upped Keith Yandle, who was in the Norris Trophy discussion last season, played in the All-Star Game and was third in scoring among defensemen. Tomas Kaberle signed in Carolina, and Boston — seeking to replace Kaberle– gave the Hurricanes a fourth-round pick for Joe Corvo (a good pickup for Boston in that he has a much better shot from the point than Kaberle, although he’s also defensively mistake-prone, more of a gambler and is considered a turnover machine). The Senators signed fourth liner and frequent fighter Zenon Konopka, who fans of many other teams hoped their favorite club would acquire, although his six-year, 195-game career minus stat (-32) is greater than his career point total (22).

    And there’s some other news that we’ll link to at the bottom of this post. But let’s check in on Winnipeg first. That’s where Jets captain Andrew Ladd signed a five-year, $22.5 million contract extension yesterday, avoiding taking the team to arbitration and, perhaps more importantly, making a statement that the ‘Peg is a place he’s happy to call home and lead his teammates through the transition from Atlanta and beyond. Read More…


  • Published On Jul 06, 2011
  • Science experiments abound with free agent frenzy

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    By Stu Hackel

    It’s been a stunning few days in the world of hockey. Watching and blogging about the various player movements over the long weekend — and the days leading up to it — was more riveting than anyone could have expected. It’s hard to actually prove this, but it’s possible that there’s never been a two-week period during which so many NHL teams transformed themselves.

    Two summers ago, when the Canadiens took advantage of a significant amount of salary cap space to trade for Scott Gomez and sign Brian Gionta, Mike Cammalleri, Hall Gill, Jaroslav Spacek, Paul Mara, Travis Moen, and (in October) Marc-Andre Bergeron, it opened eyes around the league. SI’s Pierre McGuire called it a “science experiment,” and it seemed to pay off in the short run as the Habs upset both the Capitals and Penguins in the 2010 playoffs, although credit for those triumphs had to be shared with goaltender Jaroslav Halak. The good vibes didn’t have a lasting effect into this past season, although injuries to key Habs played a role in that, along with the fading effectiveness of Gomez, which hangs over Montreal like a dark cloud.

    Now, a number of teams have engaged in their own science experiments and, while we’ll avoid the knee-jerk “winners-losers” proclamations, it certainly indicates a few things about where the NHL is going. More on that shortly, but here’s a quick recap of the teams undergoing major face lifts. Read More…


  • Published On Jul 05, 2011
  • LIVE BLOGGING: NHL Free Agency

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    By Stu Hackel

    Monday 1:30 AM – The second trade completed Sunday was a big one, and also the second in nine days between the Wild and Sharks as Minnesota ships Martin Havlat to San Jose in exchange for Dany Heatley in a swap of top wingers. Unlike Sunday’s earlier deal — but like the June trade in which the Sharks got Brent Burns for Devin Setoguchi, collegian Charlie Coyle and a first round draft pick (which became Zach Phillips) — this looks to be more of a hockey trade than one motivated purely by the salary cap or any fiscal situations.

    This trade is a move by both teams to improve their offensive chemistry, but in different ways. The Wild plainly need to score goals and Heatley is a goal scorer who, despite declining production, still has a lethal shot, good size and the ability to play well on the cycle. The Sharks need to improve their team speed among their top forwards and Havlat gives them that. He’s an excellent skater who makes very creative plays and is responsible defensively. He’ll likely take Setoguchi’s spot on Joe Thornton’s right wing.

    Theoretically, Heatley could play on a potent top line with Setoguchi centered by Mikko Koivu, although one of those wingers would have to switch to the left side. Heatley is a lefthanded shot, but plays the right side, where Setoguchi took his spot on the Sharks’ Big Three line with Thornton and Patrick Marleau. It could be they’ll play on different lines in Minny but, in any case, with these deals GM Chuck Fletcher has moved to inject offense into his team that for its entire history has struggled to score goals.

    A two-time 50-goal scorer when he played for Ottawa, Heatley clearly has had issues keeping pace in the ever-faster NHL as his production recently dipped from two straight years of 39 goals to 26; his meager playoff performance resulted in just three goals in 18 games last spring and a slide down the Sharks depth chart. The reason for the decline was said to be a broken left hand that Heatley reportedly suffered sometime during the season, although the details of that have never been spelled out. GM Doug Wilson said Sunday Heatley played with the bad paw for the last month and a half and didn’t tell anyone about it, but that wouldn’t explain his lack of production prior to that. He only missed two games during the regular season and they were the result of a suspension for an elbow to the head of Dallas’ Steve Ott.

    The risk for the Wild is whether Heatley’s decline is irreversible. The risk for the Sharks is whether Havlat can stay healthy. He had a history of injuries earlier in his career but, in the last three seasons, he’s only missed 14 total games.

    It appears the Sharks may have initiated this deal. “Marty is a player that we have had an interest in for a long time,” Sharks GM Doug Wilson said in a statement announcing the deal. “When we made the Brent Burns trade, we knew we still needed to address our speed up front and we think the acquisition of Marty does that.” He later stated that the Sharks had traded some speed up front in Setochuchi when they made the Burns deal, so needed to get it back.

    Havlat had to waive a no-movement clause for the deal to go through, and he did for the chance to play with a perennial playoff club. He’s only been to the post season twice since the lockout and excelled both times. Michael Russo of The Minneapolis Star-Tribune tweeted tonight that Havlat and the Wild had discussed waiving the NMC for about a month, although Havlat said he didn’t expect this deal. Heatley did not have a similar clause but he had a list of 10 teams to which he would not accept a trade and Minnesota, apparently, was not on that list. But David Pollak of The San Jose Mercury News tweeted tonight that he believes Heatley “didn’t see it coming.”

    The finances of the deal read this way: Heatley has three years remaining on his deal that carries a cap hit of $7.5 million. Havlat has four years left and a cap hit of $5 million. The Sharks save $2.5 mil a year and gain an extra season. Both players are 30 years old.

    And both these guys have a history of controversy, some of it coming at this time of year.

    This will be the fourth team for Heatley, whose reputation, valid or not, is not among the best in the NHL. He began his career in Atlanta, but asked to be moved in the wake of his deadly automobile accident in September 2003 in which teammate Dan Snyder was fatally injured. He plead guilty to vehicular homicide. He was traded to Ottawa for Marian Hossa and Greg de Vries after the lockout in the summer of 2005. He later requested a trade from the Senators following the 2009 season, just one year into a new six-year contract that paid him an average of $7.5 million. Heatley was unhappy with his lack of power play time under Coach Cory Clouston. When GM Bryan Murray, who said he was “blindsided” by Heatley’s request, negotiated a deal with Edmonton, Heatley invoked his no-trade clause and forced Murray to make a less favorable deal with the Sharks.

    Havlat also has played for Ottawa (and he was Heatley’s teammate there for one season) as well as the Blackhawks before moving to Minnesota as a free agent two years ago. The Senators traded him after the 2005-06 campaign when he informed them he only wanted a one-year deal so he could explore free agency at its conclusion. In Chicago, he was team MVP in 2008-09, but couldn’t reach a long-term agreement on a new deal. The Hawks eventually pulled that proposal off the table, offering only a one-year extension, then signed Hossa as a free agent, forcing Havlat to sign with the Wild, a scenario Havlat blasted on his Twitter account, saying “I didn’t leave Chicago, it left me.” and “There’s something to be said for loyalty and honor.” He publicly blamed Hawks President John McDonough, who he accused of trying to subvert GM Dale Tallon, and shortly afterward, Tallon was dismissed as GM.

    We’ll continue adding to this post throughout the long weekend so keep checking back periodically for the latest updates. Enjoy the holiday.
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  • Published On Jul 01, 2011


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