News from Whistler
Ask the players and they will tell you that there is a different
feeling around the Canuck camp this year. Sure, the same old issues are
rearing their ugly heads but this will be one exciting hockey team once
those issues resolve themselves.
Pat Quinn and Pavel
Bure speak it is difficult to sift through the bullshit. These
guys enjoy messing with the media and the media, in turn, enjoys making up
stories when none are offered. The fact is Bure has looked incredible in
camp. He will start the season in Vancouver and Quinn will decide whether
the team will be better off with him or with what they can get for him.
Despite what you may hear, Bure will be happy in Vancouver if Quinn can
work out a reasonable arrangement for payment of the $1.8 million he is
owed from the lockout.
We have not heard much lately about Alexander
Mogilny but word is he is in Malibu and the parties are still
about $1 million apart. Worse case scenario for the Canucks would be a
lengthy holdout. Watch for Quinn to attempt to get him playing before the
season starts. More on this later.
Bret Hedican is not enjoying his
training camp holdout. “I am disappointed. I am not sleeping well at night.
I am very concerned about it,” said Hedican, a restricted free agent who
earned $700,000 US last season finishing up a three year deal. While his
agent Brian Lawton declined to discuss the details of the negotiations, the
recent signings of Scott Lachance (two years at $900,000 per) and Chris
Therien (three years for $950,000, $1.25 million, $1.5 million) are likely
points of comparison. Although Lawton says “We are still a long ways apart”
– it would appear that the distance is less than $200,000 per season.
I am sorry,
Bret, but this is the beginning of elitism in the NHL. You are a 27 year
old defenseman with 6 years of NHL experience. You logged a ton of ice time
last year but managed only 19 points and 51 Pim in 67 games and were a
minus-3. Come on back for a couple of years at $800,000 and show us what
you are capable of. You have very little bargaining power.
Martin Gelinas is in camp but is
seeking a new deal. Quinn will take his time (as usual) on this one but
look for Marty to get a new 5 year deal that will pay him alot in his final
year so they will be buying two more years of group two status. This will
keep him from becoming a Group 3 free agent at 29, two years earlier than
usual. Are you listening Pat?
It looks like Kirk MacLean will be
starting in goal for the Canucks but that is where the certainty ends. I
have heard several players say good things about color=1E319A>Archie Irbe, if that means anything. I have also
heard Corey Hirsch and Captain Kirk are
not the best of friends and if that is true, Archie will probably stick and
Hirschie will be moved/waived/eliminated.
The Canucks will not have much depth between the pipes after the
waiver draft. Look for them to acquire a netminder to play in Syracuse if
they decide to send Allan Hitchen back to
London. The cupboard is as bare as it has been in a long time with only
recent free agent signee Tim Keyes
It has been an interesting camp for the Canuck blueliners. color=1E319A>Jyrki Lumme, Dana Murzyn and Grant Ledyard are sure
to log a lot of ice time, with Dave Babych
playing as much as is needed. Mattias
Ohlund has had a very good camp and could turn out to be a
Calder candidate. Steve Staios has also
looked good in camp and will start the season as the seventh or eighth
defenseman. If Hedican returns we can assume he has a spot somewhere in the
first six. That leaves five defensemen with a true shot at number eight on
the depth chart.
Aucoin is probably going to be the guy. Though he is not flashy,
he seems to get the job done in both ends. It is probably his to lose,
- Mark Wotton continues to
overachieve. He is better defensively than Aucoin and he is also more
- Zenith Komarniski has looked
very good in his second camp. He will be in the NHL soon.
- Chris McAllister sustained a
knee injury against Anaheim on September 18 and will be gone for up to 6
weeks. Too bad. He was having a great camp and may have made the squad. He
will get a long look once the injury is rehabilitated.
Other defensemen who looked good up at Whistler include:
- Clint Cabana – impressed with
his gritty play and fearless attitude.
- Brad Ference – a junkyard dog
who can really move, with or without the puck.
- Brent Sopol – offensive minded
defenseman was +39 for Swift Current last year.
what happens with Bure and Mogilny, this is going to be one high-flying
Canuck team. The way the top two lines look right now, color=1E319A>Mark Messier will be centering Bure and color=1E319A>Markus Naslund and Trevor
Linden will center Gelinas and Mogilny. Candidates for the third
and fourth lines include:
- Mike Sillinger – third line
center is his to lose.
- Dave Scatchard – seems to be
the sentimental favorite with management and the media.
- Lubomir Vaic – do not count
this little fireplug out. He is extremely strong, very skilled and loves to
dish out body checks.
- Robb Gordon – laid a whipping
on Mats Lindgren in exhibition (I know, big deal). Impressed Quinn.
- Josh Holden – has not stood
out enough to earn a starting spot. He is bigger and stronger than he was
last year but will need some time to mature in Syracuse.
- Dave Roberts – may be the odd
man out this year although his versatility is a plus and could keep him
- Donald Brashear – watch out
for Brash this year. He was a one man wrecking crew against the Oil in
- Gino Odjick – he better start
strong or his ice time may disappear quickly.
- Brian Noonan – there should be
room for him . . . for now.
- Lonny Bohonos – he has done
everything he can to ensure himself a spot on the top three lines. Will
fill in for Mogilny if he holds out.
- Scott Walker – he is fortunate
that he can play all three forward positions. His feistyness is welcome in
the Canuck lineup.
- Peter Schaefer – scored on a
beautiful end to end rush against San Jose on September 19. Has impressed
but he needs to play on one of the first two lines to be effective and
there is no room.