Friday Feb 18, 2011 – Hockey Trade Rumors – Update #1

Trade rumors swirling around Weiss

Sens GM, Phillips’ agent to talk contract

Atlanta in danger of losing another professional sports franchise

Fans want Canadiens to acquire some muscle
Trade rumors swirling around Weiss

Take a trip around the internet and the one player on the Panthers that is drawing the most trade interest is center Stephen Weiss, who has repeatedly stated that he wants to stay with the franchise who drafted him so he’s around when GM Dale Tallon helps turn their fortunes around and finally make the playoffs.

It’s no secret that Weiss has been playing hurt for the past two weeks which what I believe to be a broken hand sustained in the loss to the Devils on Feb. 4. He’s lost the zip on his shots and has just one point in the five games since then. He was on a roll, notching 22 of his team-leading 37 points from Dec. 7 to Jan. 17, a span of 19 games.

The Washington Capitals are in the market for a second-line center. Weiss, an assistant captain who could be named captain next year if defenseman Bryan McCabe isn’t re-signed, still has two years remaining on his contract at $3.1 million per.

“I just feel tired from talking about it,” Weiss said of the rumors. “I’ll stay here until my career’s over if they let me.”|+Sun-Sentinel+Blogs%29

Sens GM, Phillips’ agent to talk contract

Murray willing to keep veteran blueliner if price is right

The Senators are willing to keep defenceman Chris Phillips — for the right price.

GM Bryan Murray said he plans to speak with Phillips’ agent, J.P. Barry, on Friday.

Murray has already told Barry and Phillips that if they’re going to demand more money on a new contract, the Senators would like to know before the Feb. 28 trade deadline.

Making $3.5 million this season, Phillips will have to take less money to stay. Neither side has discussed numbers and that could be part of Friday’s discussion.

“We’ve indicated that there’s a strong possibility (Phillips can stay) if Chris is inclined to do so,” said Murray. “The only question I asked: If it doesn’t fit financially for him or if what we’re doing here going younger (doesn’t work), give us an answer early enough.”

Murray said he will not force Phillips to waive his no-movement clause. But sources say there’s plenty of interest with Boston, Montreal, Vancouver and San Jose all looking for blue-line help.

Atlanta in danger of losing another professional sports franchise

A city that promotes itself as a sports capital of the South is in danger of losing its NHL franchise for a second time.

If that were to happen, Atlanta would not have a team in every major professional sport — an embarrassing step backward for a community that has hosted the Olympic Games and two Super Bowls.

Michael Gearon of the Atlanta Spirit — a board of seven businessmen that owns the Thrashers and the Hawks — said there is now a “sense of urgency” to find additional investors or a buyer willing to keep the Thrashers in Atlanta.

If the ownership group does not get additional financial help in the near future, the franchise could be sold and moved to another city. The Thrashers would join the Atlanta Flames who left for Calgary in 1980.

“If we are faced with that as the only alternative, that’s what’s going to happen,” Gearon told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an exclusive interview. “I don’t think there is an ability to stomach another $20 million in [yearly] losses. We just can’t do it.

“The reality is we need fans showing up and we need investors or a primary investor.”

Bob Hope, a longtime sports marketing expert and an influential voice on Atlanta’s sports scene, said some civic profile would be lost if the Thrashers go.

“Once you start losing ground, there are black marks against you,” Hope said.

Atlanta business boosters are quick to rattle off the economic impact of the many big-time professional and collegiate championships held here, such as the Super Bowl and NCAA men’s and women’s Final Fours.

There is no buyer currently lined up to purchase the Thrashers, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Debbie Cannon, director of the School of Hospitality at Georgia State University, said the Thrashers helped Atlanta make the case that it was a city with something for everyone year round. That’s critical to attract business travelers and conventioneers seeking a diversion after a day of meetings.

“Atlanta should do everything it can to hang onto to the Thrashers,” she said. “It’s important that our options for visitors expand, not contract.”

William Pate, president of the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau, echoed Cannon. Sports, he said, are a big lure for Atlanta, with leisure visitors often planning their visits to the city around the home schedule of their favorite team.

Fans want Canadiens to acquire some muscle

As the NHL trade deadline draws nearer, Montreal Canadiens fans believe their inconsistent and undersized squad should ply the market for more muscle.

A QMI-Leger Marketing poll suggests 50% of Habs fans believe the team needs to pick up a bigger, tougher player if they hope to return to the Eastern Conference final. Hard-nosed Ottawa Senators winger Chris Neil was at the top of the fans’ wish list.

The Canadiens, who haven’t had an enforcer since Georges Laraque was bought out in January 2010, are noticeably smaller than such rivals as the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers. Defenceman P.K Subban is the team’s leader in penalty minutes, but ranks only 31st in the league with 86 minutes in the box.

Asked which player they’d most like to see in the red, white and blue, fans chose Neil by a wide margin. The Senators winger had 20% support compared with 7% for New York Islanders tough guys Zenon Konopka and Trevor Gillies.

The Habs, as well as the Pittsburgh Penguins, are thought to be interested in acquiring the 6-foot-1, 215-pound Neil before the Feb. 28 trade deadline.

The Canadiens held the sixth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference going into Thursday night’s home game against Tampa Bay.

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