The hockey world has definitely slowed down a bit in the past two weeks, but there is still plenty of controversy, rumors and a Stanley Cup birthday party.
One rumor flying around had former Bruins goalie Manny Fernandez signing a two-way contract with the Montreal Canadiens. There have been talks between the Habs and the unrestricted free agent, who has battled a back injury the last two seasons that had him contemplating retirement, but nothing was signed as of Saturday.
This report only fueled more speculation that the Habs are on the verge of another trade involving goalie Jaroslav Halak, since another goalie could be coming into the fold.
Also, on a related front, the Dany Heatley trade request situation continues to remain on hold in Ottawa.
A prominent agent told Murphy's Law, ?Once Heatley is dealt, the dominoes will fall, and there will be a lot more signings and trades to talk and write about as training camp approaches."
The Ottawa Sun reported that Heatley would be dealt to San Jose by Thursday, but that never happened. So as we wait and wonder when, and if, Heatley will find a new home, may we suggest the Los Angeles Kings? Maybe Alexander Frolov and Jack Johnson for Heatley. The Kings take on $2.6 million while the Senators shed the same and get under the cap. The Kings gain some star power and a constant scoring threat in Heatley while the Senators get a potential star on defense in Johnson and, in Frolov, a guy who has already proven he can put up points up front. Just thinking out loud here. No leads or sources, just trying to help the hockey world end this standstill and drama.
Olympic conundrum continues
In a follow-up to the last Murphy?s Law entry — regarding NHL players not being insured under their NHL contracts while participating in upcoming Olympic orientation camps, and agent Allan Walsh?s Tweet that the NHL sent out memos advising its clubs to not insure their players at those camps and suspend them without pay if they get injured — we must share this from NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly. Daly recently spoke with Scott Laughlin on NHL Home Ice and flat-out denied Walsh?s claims.
?The league?s stance has been the same from the time they were instituted involving NHL players participating in Olympics back in 2002,? Daly said. ?The stance that the NHL has, while very supportive of the Olympic games and the league?s players in these games, the fact of the matter is that our clubs are under the guidelines of the CBA, protected from these games, by the World Championships and any other IIHF games. The IIHF or the NHLPA or the players have to take care of that insurance coverage, and while our clubs could lose those players, they are not financially responsible.
?I can say that some of the things he put on Twitter are blatantly untrue,? Daly said. ?Including the fact that we sent any memo to any NHL club or that we gave any advice to any NHL club. We?ve never drafted a memo on Olympic orientation camp. I don?t know what Allan is referring to.?
Here?s the rest of the interview. Daly touches on a variety of topics, including the mess in Phoenix, the Marian Hossa mega-contract with Chicago (which the NHL is investigating) and the chances of the salary cap dropping. Many NHL general managers now believe it may not drop, but Daly stands by his original assertion that it will.
Walsh, by the way, stands by his comments. And I stand by my words that the NHL is wrong in not insuring these Olympic players. As Scott Burnside points out in this piece, how are NHL players competing for spots on their respective teams supposed to impress coaches without playing at full speed due to fears over this insurance situation? The NHL needs to stop being so petty and work as a partner with the players as it promised to do under the current CBA. There has to at least be some kind of compromise.
Bruins goalie and Vezina Trophy winner Tim Thomas is none too thrilled about this situation, either. But he has been told the situation, as far as he and Team USA invitees are concerned, will be resolved by the time camp begins on Aug. 17.
?As far as I?ve been told, the situation will be resolved for us, so I?m not really sure about [Walsh?s] comments, but I?ve been told it will be taken care of by the time camp begins,? Thomas said by phone this week. ?But while you?re happy to be there, something like this isn?t good. The reality is that if something were to happen to you and you?re not insured for it, it?s not just your season that could be effected. This could affect your livelihood and your family. There are guys at different points in their careers, where some guys have made enough money but others maybe not so, and they?re there at these camps because they want to play for their country and help the game. So it?s scary to think what could happen if they get hurt.?
Joke?s on Hossa
Hossa, who is now 0-2 in the last two Stanley Cup Finals playing for Detroit (2009) and Pittsburgh (2008), was the victim of a prank in his native Slovakia at the Golden Puck Awards, where he was named best Slovakian forward in 2008-09. Thanks to Puck Daddy for letting us know that Hossa finally got to meet Stanley, except it wasn?t the Stanley that has eluded him the last two years. It was Stanley the goat.
Had no idea Slovakians knew of the Cubs? plight and the curse of the Billy Goat. Well done!
The Phoenix mess, if it hasn?t already, could turn into a Ward-Gatti saga, but don?t expect any mutual respect or camaraderie when the situation is resolved. Research In Motion CEO Jim Balsillie?s bid to buy the Coyotes is still alive, and despite numerous efforts by the NHL to defame his character and his ability to run a team, Balsillie just may end up getting his wish and moving the Coyotes to Hamilton.
The NHL claims it will refuse to acknowledge any bid from Balsillie regardless of what happens in a court-ordered auction Sept. 10 in which Balsillie?s bid has been ruled applicable.
?The NHL board of governors has unanimously voted that Mr. Balsillie is not qualified as a matter of character and integrity to be the owner of an NHL team,? the league?s declared in a statement. ?Unless and until that determination is invalidated under league rules, Mr. Balsillie's relocation application is moot, the NHL will not investigate or consider his application [at enormous time and expense], and he cannot become a qualified bidder within the meaning of the bidding procedures order.?
But as Canadian radio icon Bob McCown points out, Balsillie?s bid may turn out to be the only legitimate bid and the only one that makes sense in the end. Sooner or later, and to avoid an antitrust situation, the NHL may have no choice but to face a future with a man they are so desperately trying to keep out.
?If Gary [Bettman] slips up, just once, [Richard] Rodier and Balsillie will have the NHL where they want them, in [antitrust],? McCown writes. ?And that is the battlefield that the league, its owners and its commissioner fear most.?
Until I can do some more research, I am going to refrain from commenting any more on this situation. But I will say, no matter what happens, the NHL needs to get a team or two back in Canada. Despite a bogus report that stated teen interest in the NHL has declined, NHL hockey will forever be embraced there, and it just makes sense to give the fine people of Quebec or Winnipeg their teams. So let?s make it happen.
Light at the end of the tunnel for Islanders?
Speaking of teams relocating, the Islanders may be calling Kansas City home soon if the Light House Project isn?t approved, enabling Islanders owner Charles Wang to renovate the depleted Nassau Coliseum. Islanders fans held a rally last week, and one of my former bosses, former Islanders PR man Chris Botta, is doing his best to help the cause. Check out his great Islanders blog.
As I write this column, I should be watching one of my favorite Irish bands, Black 47, rock Springfield, Mass., but I'm a bit under the weather this weekend, so Murphy?s Law is on the home front for once. Anyhow, Joey ?Knobs,? the sound guru for Black 47, is a huge Isles fan, and he too said that if the Light House Project fails, the team should be moved to Canada.
?How about the Halifax Islanders?? he suggested.
Obviously, a new arena would need to be built, but we?re pretty sure most NHL players wouldn?t mind if a new NHL team was, in the words of the Montreal-based but Nova Scotia-themed band Drunken Dru, ?Headed For Halifax.?
Roenick calls it a career
Jeremy Roenick retired this past week, and his 1,363 games, 513 goals and 1,216 points, should have him headed for Toronto and the Hockey Hall of Fame. Roenick is one of the best American players ever and one of the best and most entertaining players of this scribe?s Generation X (which seems like a long time ago now). Word has it he may be on Dancing With The Stars, and if this clip is any indication of his chances, he may need to brush up on those skills. But all kidding aside, thanks for the memories, JR.
Finally, on another musical note, Sunday marks the 14th anniversary of Jerry Garcia?s death, so we leave you with this song, and we?ll send it out to Roenick for all the heart and soul he gave on the ice and the words he delivered off it.