NHL Hockey Trade Rumors – Dec 28, 2011

Blue Jackets to be active

Stars inform Andrew Raycroft he will be placed on waivers

Panthers interested in John Madden?

Blue Jackets to be active

Scott Howson has finally seen enough. The five-game losing streak the Blue Jackets lugged into last night’s game against Calgary convinced the team’s general manager that something has to be done.

“We’ll be active,” he said.

This is no small thing. Although Howson’s epiphany might not merit a full-blown parade, it probably is worth a band, a couple of floats and maybe the mayor waving from an open car. At the very least, it’s probably cause for a small party.

“This last five-game stretch has given us a little more clarity,” Howson said. “We’re just not good enough as a team.”

That might have seemed obvious to many of us before now — the Jackets have a woeful 9-22-5 record after last night’s 2-1 shootout loss to Calgary — but Howson isn’t like many of us. Even when his team is last in the entire NHL, as it is now, he leads the league in patience.

This can be reassuring and maddening. When you listen to him talk, sometimes he seems almost too reasonable to be running a professional sports franchise when the paying customers want to win yesterday. At other times, you almost want to take him by the shoulders and shake some sense into him. Where was he a month ago when the season was leaving town?

“The first six or seven weeks of the season, it was too disjointed,” he said. “We had (James) Wisniewski out. We had (Jeff) Carter out. We had (Radek) Martinek out. We had (Mark) Dekanich out. … It was just too disjointed to get a clear picture. The picture is becoming clearer now. We aren’t playing well enough and … me as management has to find a solution to help the team.”

Others teams have sought solutions quicker than he has. Six teams with better records than his already have fired their coaches. Hard as it is to believe, Howson doesn’t sound like firing Scott Arniel is something he has even considered.

“Changing the coach is not always the answer,” he said, “and if you look at the six changes that have been made, how many have worked?”

The answer is one, but it’s a bad one. Ken Hitch*****, whom Howson fired as coach of the Blue Jackets two years ago, has turned the St. Louis Blues into one of the hottest teams in the NHL.


Stars inform Andrew Raycroft he will be placed on waivers

Kari Lehtonen should be ready to play Thursday against Columbus, and that has forced some decisions on goaltending today, Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk said.

The Stars today informed goalie Andrew Raycroft that he will be placed on waivers Wednesday at 11 a.m. That would allow the Stars enough time to activate Lehtonen so he can play Thursday against Columbus.

Lehtonen has been out since Nov. 26 with a groin injury, but has been going through full practices and appears ready to return.

In the mean time, rookie Richard Bachman has taken over the backup goalie position. He is 5-2-0 in his eight NHL starts with a 2.76 GAA and .912 save percentage.

“I think through his body of work, he’s earned the opportunity to move forward at this level,” Nieuwendyk said. “It’s a process, and he’s still learning, but he has done a lot of good things and we feel he has the ability to be even better.”

Bachman, 24, was expected to be the back-up goalie next season, but was given an opportunity when Lehtonen was hurt and Raycroft struggled by allowing five goals in consecutive performances.

Raycroft, 31, could be picked up by another team by 11 a.m. Thursday. That team would have to place him immediately on their NHL roster. If he is sent to the minors at any time by a claiming team, the Stars would have a chance to reclaim him.

If no team places a claim on Raycroft, he will be assigned to the Texas Stars and would start playing there as a tandem mate with Tyler Beskorowany.


Panthers interested in John Madden?

The Panthers could get some help soon as the Christmas roster freeze is lifted on Wednesday. Florida is said to have interest in free agent center John Madden — a three-time Stanley Cup champion with New Jersey (twice) and Chicago. Madden, 38, scored 12 goals for the Wild last season. “We’re talking to everyone, and we’re listening to everyone,’’ general manager Dale Tallon said during Tuesday’s game. “We really need some bodies. We’re trying to get better and will do so anyway we can.’’

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/12/28/2563654/florida-panthers-patchwork-lineup.html#storylink=cpy

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