NHLNews and Rumors – Tuesday July 21, 2009

Media CEO wants NHL back in Quebec

Being a Leaf definitely tempted Nash

Hawks, Capitals lead list of NHL teams on the rise

Thrashers ready to give Kovalchuk the hard sell

Sharks might still be circling HeatleyMedia CEO wants NHL back in Quebec


Saying he was “disappointed” with how things worked out regarding the sale of the Montreal Canadiens, the head of Quebecor, Pierre Karl Peladeau, is turning his attention to Quebec City.

The media group’s CEO says he will be “seriously” involved in the current efforts to see another NHL team brought to the Quebec capital, a place Peladeau called “such a magnificent city”.

“Quebec City is a hockey city… much more than certain American cities with NHL teams,” he said over the weekend. “Quebec City has the potential to build a new arena and accommodate a hockey team, but it won’t be tomorrow. (We’ll) have to be patient.” Peladeau was in the city with his wife, Julie Snyder, at a benefit evening for the Fondation Felix-Leclerc.

The Quebecor chief said it was obviously a disappointment to see his group of financial backers unsuccessful in its bid to acquire the legendary team. After offers from a host of high-profile potential buyers earlier this year, the Canadiens and the Bell Centre were finally sold to the Molson brothers in a deal worth some $630 million.

“For sure we’re disappointed,” Peladeau said. “We believed strongly and were confident we would get it. I involved myself enormously in this matter. We were a solid group. I don’t understand why we didn’t get it.”

Peladeau’s interest in the matter is good news for those who experienced the intense rivalry between the Habs and the Nordiques, including Michel Bergeron, the former Nordiques coach.


Being a Leaf definitely tempted Nash


Rick Nash didn’t need Maple Leafs fans to tell him he would look good in blue and white — the Brampton native has enough friends and family to remind him regularly.

But the Columbus star admits the allure of playing for his home-town team was a huge consideration prior to re-upping with the Blue Jackets a year before he would have become an unrestricted free agent.

“It was tempting,” Nash said yesterday at Glen Abbey Golf Club prior to teeing off in the inaugural Mike Weir Charity Classic. “It’s home. And it would be a dream to wear the Maple Leafs uniform.

“But at the end of the day Columbus is where I’m happy and I think we are on the right track.”

Nash wouldn’t necessarily have even been on the Leafs’ radar, but coming off a 40-goal season, the former London Knights star clearly is one of the brightest young talents in the game. And when the Jackets offered a $62-million US deal over eight seasons, Nash couldn’t resist.

“We have good goaltending, good young players and it’s going to be an appetizing place to come to soon,” Nash said. “We are going to be a contender and I want to be part of it.”

Nash was one of a handful of NHLers participating in the charity event to kick off Canadian Open week, a group which included potential Olympic teammates Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils and Joe Thornton of the San Jose Sharks.

Back home in Quebec for the summer, Brodeur doesn’t need to be reminded that his Olympic tryout unofficially starts when the NHL season begins in October.


Hawks, Capitals lead list of NHL teams on the rise

Dan Rosen – NHL.com Staff Writer

For two seasons the Pittsburgh Penguins were known as one of the teams “on the rise.” You would hear pundits predicting the Sidney Crosby-led Penguins were “evolving,” or “getting closer.”

They came around a few months ago by winning the Stanley Cup.

With that, we offer you our first Top 10 list of the summer. It’s the Top 10 teams that we deem to be, as they say, on the rise.

These are the teams that for the last few seasons have been taking steps up the challenging ladder to Stanley Cup glory, and all look poised to continue their climb in 2009-10. Maybe one even could reach the top and become the next Pittsburgh Penguins.

1. Chicago Blackhawks — Their run to the Western Conference Finals was a dramatic leap for a team that hadn’t reached the playoffs since 2002, but it wasn’t totally shocking. The Hawks have changed dramatically in the last 24 months by developing a solid young core and have spent to upgrade in other areas.

2. Washington Capitals — Led by back-to-back Hart Trophy winner Alex Ovechkin, the Caps have won consecutive Southeast Division titles and improved in the playoffs from 2008 to 2009. They’re still young and hungry, and now they might have their goalie of their future in Simeon Varlamov.


Thrashers ready to give Kovalchuk the hard sell

Jeff Schultz

In the past several weeks, the Thrashers have signed a free agent forward (Nik Antropov), traded for a top-four defenseman (Pavel Kubina) and drafted potential top scorer (Evander Kane). Whether they keep the only player that most people walking around the streets of Atlanta can actually identify is another matter.

Negotiations are expected to heat up this week between general manager Don Waddell and Ilya Kovalchuk’s agent, Jay Grossman. The two sides aren’t saying much publicly that they haven’t said before. Waddell sent me an email Monday, saying: “It’s our goal to sign Ilya to a long-term deal.” Grossman declined comment. (He’s known as a tough agent, but issuing negotiating rhetoric to the media isn’t his thing.)

Kovalchuk has a year left on his contract at $7.5 million. Theoretically, his new deal could pay him up to $11.2 million per season (20 percent of the NHL salary cap of $56 million). The bigger issue is term: The NHL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement has no cap on length of contract. For example, former Thrasher Marian Hossa just signed a 12-year deal with the Chicago Blackhawks (no doubt clinching the Cup for the Blackhawks in 13 years).

But the Thrashers’ negotiations with Kovalchuk will be different than those they had with Hossa. Kovlachuk seems to be looking for a reason to stay here. I’m not sure that ever was the case with Hossa, who wasn’t drafted by the team and never really adopted Atlanta as a home the way Kovalchuk has. Hossa also wanted a chance to win the Stanley Cup immediately (as shown by his ill-fated decision to leave Pittsburgh and sign a one-year deal with Detroit, which then lost to the Penguins in the finals).


Sharks might still be circling Heatley

Ken Warren, Canwest News Service

San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson won’t dare mention the name Dany Heatley, but don’t let the sounds of silence fool you.

The Sharks remain a possible landing spot for Heatley, providing, of course, the Ottawa Senators’ on-again, off-again trade talks with the Edmonton Oilers are finally dead.

Wilson, you’ll recall, promised to do whatever was necessary to shake up his team after it underachieved yet again in the spring, bounced in the first round of the playoffs by the
Anaheim Ducks after winning the NHL regular season title.

“Is this the final time we have to get kicked in the (butt) to realize we’re going to commit to whatever it takes to get to the next level?” he asked a group of disappointed fans after the club’s elimination.

That fiery, passionate comment came more than two months ago. Since then, Wilson’s biggest moves have been re-signing forward Ryane Clowe, and defencemen Rob Blake and Kent Huskins.

As for the promised shakeup? Nothing.