NHL News and Rumor Tidbits – January 25, 2010

Penguins Notebook: Flyers’ Asham accuses Cooke of biting

Canucks decline CBC interviews as show of support for Burrows

Mitchell may have concussion, Salo is still sore, but Rypien now ready

Cap crunch on Kovalchuk

Penguins Notebook: Flyers’ Asham accuses Cooke of biting

By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia Flyers forward Arron Asham has accused Penguins winger Matt Cooke of biting him in a third-period skirmish in the Penguins’ 2-1 victory Sunday at the Wachovia Center.

“There was a scrum, I grabbed him,” Asham told a group of Philadelphia-area reporters. “There were two guys on [Scott Hartnell] and my glove got tangled in [Cooke’s] mouth and he bit me, so I lost it.

“It’s not bad, but he’s a gutless guy. I have no respect for him at all. I lined up against him and asked him to fight and he didn’t want to. If you go and bite someone … I just have no use for him.

“He does his job well. He’s an agitator. He’s garbage to me and I have no respect for him at all. You should have a little more honor than that. Usually, if you bite somebody you stick up for yourself and you fight the guy. Not this guy, he’s chicken and I have no respect for him.

“He plays the game hard and I respect him for that, but he yaps, he’s a dirty player. At least a guy like [Sean] Avery fights. This guy is just [expletive] and I hate him.”

Cooke could not be reached for comment after Asham made his accusation, but earlier offered this version of events: “At first, he was scratching the side of my face, then he started ripping my helmet off and punching me in the back of the head.”

Earlier this season, Hartnell was accused of biting the finger of Penguins defenseman Kris Letang, but was not punished by the league.


Canucks decline CBC interviews as show of support for Burrows

The Vancouver Canucks’ feud with the CBC and Hockey Night In Canada host Ron MacLean apparently won’t die of natural causes.

On Saturday, the Canucks turned down all interview requests on their nationally televised game against the Chicago Blackhawks. No Canuck player appeared pre-game, between periods or post-game despite the fact Vancouver handily beat the Blackhawks 5-1.

The three stars, as chosen by HNIC, were the Canucks’ Roberto Luongo, Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler. It is customary for at least one of the three stars to do a post-game ‘hit’ with host Scott Oake. The boycott came from the top of the Canucks organization and was in direct retaliation for MacLean’s one-sided piece a week earlier on the Alex Burrows-Stephane Auger ‘referee-gate’ incident.

“Any time we feel that one of our players has not been treated fairly, you have to take a stand as an organization,” Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault explained Sunday. “We did that and we’re moving forward.”

General manager Mike Gillis was extremely upset with the MacLean piece and refused Sunday to say whether the ‘boycott’ will continue for another week. The Canucks play in Toronto next Saturday as part of the CBC’s showcase Hockey Day In Canada triple-header.

“We’ll see,” Gillis tersely replied.

Burrows, who collected three assists Saturday and has points in 11 straight games, appreciated the show of support from both management and his fellow players.


Mitchell may have concussion, Salo is still sore, but Rypien now ready

By benkuzma

Nobody wanted to use the ‘C’ word Sunday, but Willie Mitchell could have a concussion.
The veteran defenceman, whose shoulder and head struck the endboards when boarded by Evgeni Malkin on Jan. 16 at GM Place, will miss his fourth-straight game Monday when the Vancouver Canucks host the Buffalo Sabres.

With Sami Salo (groin strain) and Kevin Bieksa (ankle surgery) also sidelined, the Canucks will again ice the pairings of Shane O’Brien-Christian Ehrhoff, Aaron Rome-Brad Lukowich and Alex Edler-Nolan Baumgartner against the well-balanced Sabres, who are third in the Eastern Conference.

Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said Mitchell and Salo will join the club on its eight-game road trip that opens Saturday in Toronto, unless their conditions worsen. He would only refer to Mitchell’s ailment as “upper body.” The two blueliners didn’t practise Sunday, but Salo may surface Wednesday against St. Louis. As for Mitchell, who knows?

Rome suffered a concussion when his face struck the ice from a Taylor Pyatt check on Jan. 7 at GM Place. He missed four games and passed baseline concussion tests after being out one week.
“The first day I felt like I was looking through a fog and heavy behind the eyes,” Rome said of his concussion. “Kind of like a small headache. I really haven’t had any [concussions] in the past and I felt pretty fortunate. I felt it for one day and progressed from there. You get hit a lot in hockey and it’s natural to have headaches and sometimes things add up.”


Cap crunch on Kovalchuk

Teams simply can’t afford to pay Thrashers star not to play during Olympic break


Star winger Ilya Kovalchuk is likely to still be with the Thrashers right up until the NHL trade deadline.

While league sources say Calgary GM Darryl Sutter — desperate to shake up his struggling club — has made several inquiries into Kovalchuk’s availability, the indications are suitors such as the Flames, Capitals, Blackhawks, Bruins, Kings and Rangers are going to wait.

Atlanta GM Don Waddell is prepared to take one more run at trying to sign Kovalchuk, but if the Russian goal-scoring machine isn’t willing to budge from his $11-million-a-season (all terms US) demand, he will be dealt before the March 3 NHL trade deadline.

But two league executives said they don’t believe his destination will be decided until after the Olympics wrap up Feb. 28 because the teams that want to make a pitch can’t afford to pick up what remains of Kovalchuk’s $6.4-million cap hit during the Games.

“Players are going to be paid during that break and those teams can’t afford to pay him not to play,” said one Western Conference executive speaking on the condition of anonymity.

None of the teams in contention have much room under the salary cap, even when it comes to a rental like Kovalchuk.

The Flames are willing to move defenceman Dion Phaneuf as part of package, but a league executive has insisted for the last month Washington will make a deal to land Kovalchuk.

Around the boards

The Blues will likely try to move LW Paul Kariya before the trade deadline if they don’t get back into playoff contention. He is making $6 million this season and will become a UFA on July 1. There could be mild interest from a couple of teams — including the Canucks. The Blues won’t make that decision until after the Olympic break … There’s talk Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke made inquiries into what it would cost to get Kovalchuk from the Thrashers. “Burk
e likes to stick his nose into everything,” said one Eastern Conference-based player. “If he did that, it’s so he can tell everybody that he looked into the possibility.” It makes no sense for the Leafs as they simply don’t have the cap space to add Kovalchuk.


One Response to NHL News and Rumor Tidbits – January 25, 2010

  1. cam7777 says:

    Ha, jeez, I love how the players think they know what they're talking about now.  A casual fan can glance through the numbers on the internet and figure out that the Leafs could add Kovalchuk.  It's a simple matter of burying useless contracts.  Good-bye Blake and Finger, hello Kovalchuk.  What the Leafs lack, is the assets to acquire him via trade.

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