NHL Report: March 8, 2007 - Metro US

NHL Report: March 8, 2007

The Pittsburgh Penguins aren’t the only NHL club that may be on the move.

Sources tell us the Nashville Predators also could bolt to another city sooner or late because of the millions they’ve lost in Tennessee over the years.

Despite being one of the strongest contenders in the NHL, the Predators have suffered through lukewarm fan support and haven’t even been able to collect significant income through side ventures. In fact, the Preds haven’t been able to find a sponsor willing to pay for naming rights to their arena, and it’s reaching the point where the club’s owners believe they would be able to make more money, and have less to worry about, elsewhere.

•There are whispers within the NHL that suggest league executives, particularly in hockey operations, favour the Toronto Maple Leafs.

This is probably folly, I would think, but those whispers are out there nonetheless, and they became louder this week after Cam Janssen of the New Jersey Devils was suspended for three games because of his vicious, late hit on the Leafs’ Tomas Kaberle. Kaberle suffered a concussion because of Janssen’s actions and has not returned to the lineup since the hit last Saturday night. There have been reports, denied by Kaberle, that the injury ended his season.

Anyway, the aforementioned whispers became louder because Janssen became the first player in NHL history to be slapped with a suspension for a late hit.

The whispers suggest that, since there was no precedent for such a hit, there should have been no suspension. The whispers also suggest that NHL vice-president Colin Campbell, who’s responsible for disciplining players, has an attachment to the Leafs because:

A) His office is situated in the Leafs’ building in Toronto;

B) There’s a perception that, if John Ferguson Jr. is fired as the Leafs’ general manager after this season (which is quite possible), he’d like the job;

C) His right-hand aide with the NHL is Mike Murphy, a former Toronto coach who also might return to the Leafs in some capacity if Campbell replaces Ferguson.

Now, those who know Campbell and Murphy well consider them to be fair, honest and objective decision-makers, but, as I mentioned, the whispers within the NHL are out there.

And I’m told the whispers might become official protests at NHL meetings sooner or later.

• Former NHL Players Association chief Alan Eagleson, who was in trouble with the law long before contemporary NHLPA chief Ted Saskin was, has been selling some of the hockey memorabilia he kept in order to make ends meet, sources say.

Eagleson, who is retired and keeping a low profile in Toronto, remains a target of ire by many og the ex-NHLers he defrauded, and some of them are preparing to create a fuss over the money he’s receiving for the memorabilia.

Their belief is that he shouldn’t be prospering from hockey in any shape or form after he was deemed guilty years ago.

Bob Pulford, the former Maple Leaf player who’s been calling the shots for decades as the chief of the Chicago Blackhawks, has let it be known around the NHL that he is in the market for a wise hockey mind to run his team’s hockey operations.

That, I assume, means au revoir after this season to Dale Tallon, the Hawks’ GM.

• Speaking of au revoir after this season, that’s likely what Sheldon Souray will be saying to the Montreal Canadiens.

Souray, the highest-scoring defenceman in the NHL, is eligible for free agency in the off-season and is the object of the Los Angeles Kings’ affection.

The interest is mutual, we’re told, because Souray has reconciled with his estranged wife, actress Angelica Bridges, who is expecting the couple’s second child. They have a home in Los Angeles.

The Kings are desperate for a formidable defenceman after recently trading Mattias Norstrom to the Dallas Stars.

Chris Phillips is close to re-signing with the Ottawa Senators, we understand, and that would keep the talented defenceman off this summer’s free-agent market.

The Sens are planning to pay him megamillions in a long-term deal. They’re determined not to lose him, mostly because they lost an even more talented defenceman, big Zdeno Chara, as a free agent to the Boston Bruins last summer.

Phillips is being paid about $2.2-million by the Senators this season. His new deal will be worth about 3.5-million a season.


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