Posted on: August 11, 2011 8:45 pm
Edited on: August 12, 2011 4:23 pm
By: Adam Gretz
Andrei Kostitsyn has never been a model of consistency in the NHL, but he did manage to score 20 goals in 81 games for the Montreal Canadiens last season, good enough for the third best total on the club, trailing only Brian Gionta and Tomas Plekanec. Not a great season, but definitely not a poor one as a 20-goal effort in the NHL is nothing to look down on.
Still, the 25-year-old Kostitsyn appears to be unhappy with his head coach, Jacques Martin, and recently sounded off on his role with the team that drafted him in the first-round (10th overall) back in 2003.
In an interview with Goals By, a publication out of Belarus, Kostitsyn said his relationship with Martin is "not too good," and added "It wasn't me who started to play badly, it's just that I was being put into (the) third and fourth line. I've tried talking to (Jacques Martin) more than once. But he doesn't care."
Of course, Kostitsyn spent a great deal of time this past season playing on Montreal's top lines, skating alongside Mike Cammalleri and Tomas Plekanec, as well as Brian Gionta. All three of those guys were among Montreal's top-scorers and offensive threats last season, and not exactly chopped liver when it comes to talented linemates. Granted, he did see time with bottom-six players like Travis Moen and Lars Eller, but the majority of his time was spent with top-line talent and with top-line even strength minutes.
Kostitsyn's younger brother, Sergei, was also a member of the Canadiens organization for a number of years, and also had his share of problems with Martin. He was ultimately traded to Nashville last offseason where he went on to to lead the Predators with 23 goals in 2010-11, his best season to date in the NHL.
It should be interesting to see how the Canadiens organization decides to deal with the oldest Kostitsyn brothers given his apparent problems with the teams coach.
Photo: Getty Images
For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: August 11, 2011 10:16 am
Edited on: August 11, 2011 10:54 am
TOO GOOD FOR HIS OWN GOOD: Since Alexei Kovalev left the NHL to go to Russia's KHL, he fired some shots at Ottawa and then took plenty of shots in return. That's all on top of the criticism he's heard throughout his career. You know them: He doesn't play every game, he's hockey's Randy Moss, all talent and no heart, etc. Scott Cullen of TSN penned a column about Kovalev suffering the curse of being supremely talented and thus having expectations through the roof.
USA JUNIORS DROP: As the Junior camp rolls on in Lake Placid for Team USA and they try to whittle down the roster to the final 22, the Americans are playing some exhibition games. On Wednesday they squared off with the Swedes and fell 4-1. The only score of the U.S. came from Florida Panthers draftee Vincent Trocheck. The USA has two more games remaining at the camp, one rematch with Sweden and one against Finland.
SMASHING TICKET SALES: The Predators haven't had the best offseason on record, but it's not stopping them from selling tickets (Ticketnews.com). The numbers are up across the board for season ticket sales in Nashville, and in a rare site an NHL team is actually outperforming an NFL team (the Tennessee Titans). The team's first playoff series victory seems to be helping, as does the slight rebranding to further align themselves with Nashville's rich music history.
BIG RED BIRD III: The Detroit Red Wings showed off their new airplane on Wednesday that they will use this season, named Red Bird III. Take a look at these pictures (Hockey Town Blog). There are a multitude of reasons players want to go play for the Wings, but comfort in the sky like this will only hope give another reason.
DESERT SIGNING: The Phoenix Coyotes made a small move yesterday, re-signing forward Viktor Tikhonov to a one-year, two-way contract. In the AHL last season, he had 10 goals and 23 assists for the San Antonio Rampage. AZ Vibe says the deal contains a "European Assignment Clause" meaning if he isn't playing with the Coyotes, he can play in the KHL.
HOCKEY MEETS SOCCER: Perhaps soccer is just on the brain after Jurgen Klinsmann made his U.S. coaching debut last night and the announcement that NBC and the network formerly known as Versus will be showing MLS games. But check out these hockey-meets-soccer jerseys that were mocked up by majupra.imgur.com. Can't figure out why, but I find myself liking the nauseating Canadiens stripes (and red jersey).
Posted on: July 29, 2011 2:18 pm
The NHL lost two free agents to the KHL on Friday as Brent Sopel and Alexei Kovalav are headed to the Russian league to continue their careers.
Sopel made the announcement himself on his Twitter account, saying "Two years in the KHL! So excited for this new opportunity!" More specifically, he inked the deal with Metallurg Novokuznetsk.
Sopel will be 35 next season and the defenseman hasn't put up more than 10 points in a season since 2007-08 with the Blackhawks. His best season came with the Canucks in 2003-04 when he scored 10 goals and had 32 assists. He split last season between the Thrashers and Canadiens.
He has seen his offensive numbers dip and his ice time has gone down, too, but it isn't as if he is a player that wouldn't interest any team at this point. Playing for the Thrashers last year he had a plus-7 in 59 games. Not bad considering the team he was on. Him going to the KHL is more a surprise than Kovalev.
Kovalev, meanwhile, will sign with Atlant Mytishchi according to Sport-Express.
Now 38, the Soviet Russian native played for the Senators and Penguins last season, scoring 17 goals with 19 assists. He has never had much of a problem scoring goals, tallying 428 over his career in the NHL that spanned 18 seasons.
For him it's a move you would expect. He's up there in age and gets a chance to finish out his playing career much closer to home, something that is becoming more and more common among the Russian veterans.
The moves, though, should put no fear in anybody that the KHL is creeping in on the free agents. The two leagues recently signed an agreement for signing players, but this appears to be a situation of veterans not finding interest from NHL squads.
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: July 23, 2011 10:27 am
Edited on: July 23, 2011 1:59 pm
By Adam Gretz
GORGES RE-SIGNS WITH MONTREAL: One-by-one players that were scheduled for arbitration hearings are finding ways to come to an agreement with their team before having to go through the arbitration process. The latest player to come to an agreement was Josh Gorges, who signed a one-year contract with the Montreal Canadiens on Friday night. According to TSN's Darren Dreger, the deal is worth $2.5 million. Gorges was limited to just 36 games last season because of injury, and scored one goal to go with six assists. Offense isn't a large part of his game, as he's one of Montreal's top shutdown defensemen. He was scheduled for an arbitration hearing on July 28.
BOOGAARD CHARGED: Aaron Boogaard, the brother of former NHL enforcer Derek Boogaard, was charged on Friday for the unlawful distribution of a controlled substance. He's also facing charges for interferring with the scene of his brother's death by allegedly flushing a drug stash down the toilet before police could arrive to the scene.
KANE'S NUMBER DEBATE: There's a debate raging in Winnipeg as to whether Evander Kane should continue to wear Bobby Hull's No. 9. Hull, of course, was a tremendous player for the original Winnipeg franchise during its WHA days, where the number was retired. That team currently plays its games in Phoenix, while the current Jets franchise carries the history of the Atlanta Thrashers, which did not retire the number. Arctic Ice Hockey is asking Jets fans to vote on whether Kane should change numbers, while the young forward plans on asking Hull for permission to continue to wear the number he's worn for most of his young career.
NABOKOV TO RETURN? James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail reported on Friday that Evgeni Nabokov is planning on making a return to the NHL for the 2011-12 season. The question, however, is with which team? The easiest guess right now might be the New York Islanders. The goaltender signed a deal in Russia before last season and then decided to make a return to the NHL in January. He signed a contract with the Detroit Red Wings but had to pass through waivers before he could officially join the team. The Islanders, in need of goaltending help because of a rash of injuries at the position, claimed Nabokov, who then refused to report to the team. He never played a game for the Islanders. Nabokov suiting up for New York would certainly be weird given last year's events, but it's still not as weird as the possibility of Alexei Yashin returning.
Posted on: July 19, 2011 4:26 pm
Edited on: July 19, 2011 4:55 pm
Nobody wants to go to arbitration. The next time you hear any involved party is excited for arbitration battles will be the first.
It can be dangerous. It can certainly be ugly. It is always contentious.
The nature of the best resembles part of Festivus with the Airing of Grievances. At least there are no Feats of Strength as an arbiter lays down the decision instead of the sides fighting it out. The involved parties are forced to justify their stance in the negotiations, resulting in teams putting down their own player. Not a desirable stance to have to take.
Because of the combative nature, the process has been known to cause strains in relationships between teams and players. It's exactly why teams try to avoid the process more fervently than someone looks to evade root canals.
For that reason arbitration meetings often times don't happen. It's amazing how much easier it is to strike a deal with a deadline speeding up the negotiations. Always worked that way for me to get book reports done in school; nothing like a deadline of two days away to read the first page.
So it is highly likely only a few of the names headed to arbitration will actually have their hearing. That goes for the two biggest names on the list, Shea Weber and Zach Parise. The Predators and Devils respectively will try and hammer out contracts before an arbiter gets to set the reward. This has happened to three players in the last day as the Jets avoided a hearing with Blake Wheeler, the Ducks with Andrew Cogliano and the Sabres with Andrej Sekera, all reaching new deals.
But there will still be hearings. Teddy Purcell and the Lightning will have their case heard tomorrow, the first day, along with Lauri Korpikovski and the Coyotes. The next case will be Brandon Dubinsky and the Rangers. All of those hearings should happen with the potential for the Rangers/Dubinsky battle to be a tough one seeing as the sides still seem to be pretty far apart.
Or you will have the cases where teams just walk away from the award. It happened last year with Clarke MacArthur in Atlanta and more notably with Antti Niemi in Chicago, the teams electing to let the player find another team than pay them the determined amount. It will happen again this year to a Blackhawks player as the team has already said it cannot afford to bring Chris Campoli back.
Last year in total five players got as far as the arbitration hearing. Three of those players' awards were not matched. Teams are only allowed to walk away in a situation where the player filed for arbitration and the reward is $1.7 million or more. Anything less than that and the player stays put, regardless.
Obviously the most interesting cases are those of Parise and Weber. They are both franchise players and are due for substantial raises. The case of Weber is particularly appealing since the signing of Drew Doughty in Los Angeles seems to be waiting for the precedent set by the future Weber contract.
With all of that as the background, here's a list of all the players who, as of now, are scheduled for their turns in the ol' testy tango of arbitration. Expect names to disappear from this list faster than Michael J. Fox in family photos.
Photo: Getty Images
Tags: Antti Niemi, Arbitration, Blake Comeau, Brandon Dubinsky, Brian Stubits, Chicago Blackhawks, Chris Campoli, Clarke MacArthur, Jannik Hansen, Josh Gorges, Lauri Korpikoski, Mark Fraser, Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Phoenix Coyotes, Ryan Callahan, Shea Weber, Tampa Bay Lightning, Teddy Purcell, Vancouver Canucks, Zach Parise
Posted on: July 14, 2011 1:35 pm
Edited on: July 14, 2011 1:46 pm
By Brian Stubits
Max Pacioretty's recovery from his vicious hit into a stanchion last season took another step this week, albeit a "weird" one.
Pacioretty suited up and played all of his shifts in the Big Assist annual charity game (it benefits the Obie Harrington-Howes Foundation, which works to improve the quality of life for people with spinal cord injuries and diseases), skating with Martin St. Louis from the Lightning and Matt Moulson of the Islanders. The Canadiens forward even got on the score sheet, netting a goal and a few assists.
Most importantly, though, it was his first competitive action since he was hospitalized after the hit from Zdeno Chara. A charity game doesn't exactly compare to the rigors of an NHL game, but it's still a step.
"It felt ... I don't know, I guess it just felt weird," Pacioretty said following the game. "It was weird at first, but as the game went on I think I felt a little more comfortable, and I'm looking forward now to gaining some momentum off of that.
"I had a lot of time off since my injury, and now I'm just working on putting on muscle and trying to get as big and as fast as possible,"
The Canadiens would love to have Pacioretty back and fully healthy for next season. The native of Connecticut was enjoying his best season of his young career last year before it ended with just 37 games played. In that time, though, he scored 14 goals and added 10 more assists for Montreal, easily surpassing his totals of 3-11=14 in 54 games two seasons ago.
Ever since the injury, Pacioretty has been vocal about not wanting any more discipline for Chara and that he just wanted to move on. He's sticking by that stance.
"The past is the past, and I can dwell on it as much as I want, but that will do me no good," he said. "So I'm going to do everything I can to work toward the future and get ready for next year."
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: July 5, 2011 11:30 am
Edited on: July 5, 2011 11:49 am
BURKE BURN: If you happened to catch the free-agency coverage on TSN (Versus was carrying the stream) you probably noticed Toronto Sun columnist Steve Simmons more or less lambasting Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke for not being present on the opening day of free agency, which included the team's meeting with Brad Richards. Instead, he was spending Canada Day with troops in Afghanistan. Burke, who had plenty of communications with everybody back in Canada via cell phone and Skype, is offended by the criticism, saying he would do it again. The National Post has the whole story.
RICHARDS OR POORER? Since Brad Richards elected to sign with the Rangers, it's been a lot of euphoria in Blueshirt land as they finally got a top-line center they hope can give them close to the production that messiah Messier once did. But it's not all rainbows and sunshine. Blueshirt Banter reins in the party on Broadway a bit by looking at the downsides to Richards, going deep into the world of statistics to do so.
COLE AS GOOD AS GOLD: As you might have gathered by now, this was not a deep free-agent class by any means, so it was tough for teams to fill their needs. But Montreal Canadiens blog Lions in Winter thinks the team did a fantastic job of taking care of its principle need: a top-six power forward. Outside of the pipedream of signing Richards, the conclusion is that Erik Cole was about the best fit they could find.
HEAT-ING UP? Dany Heatley had 26 goals and 38 assists for the San Jose Sharks last season. For most players in the league, those are great numbers. For a guy that has shown he can score 50 goals in a season? A little lackluster. So he gets a fresh start in Minnesota, a team that will be looking for every ounce of scoring it can find. Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune takes a look at the new partnership between the two and how they all hope it brings a return to form for Heatley.
TORRES' TREK: Raffi Torres is the son of a Mexican father and Peruvian mother who hails from Canada and has red hair. All make for one interesting player ... and determined. Torres, who just signed with the Phoenix Coyotes, gained that proverbial chip on his shoulder growing up facing the prejudices of playing hockey as a Latino. The Arizona Republic explains.
By Brian Stubits
Posted on: July 1, 2011 3:40 pm
Edited on: July 1, 2011 5:16 pm
Erik Cole has spent the majority of his career in Carolina, but his time in Raleigh is done as he's headed to Montreal for four years, $18 million, according to multiple reports.
Cole was one of the top-rated forwards on the board this free-agent season. There was still hope in Carolina that the team would bring back Cole, but GM Jim Rutherford hinted that perhaps the team wouldn't be able to afford what he would be looking for.
Rutherford shared what happened from a Carolina standpoint: "The Canes took a last ditch effort to sign Cole and changed position considerably, but were unable to keep him."
It's a pretty hefty contract for Cole, but it helps the Canadiens add some size and scoring on the wings.
Last season Cole scored 26 goals and had 26 assists last season for the 'Canes.
By Brian Stubits
Photo: Getty Images
Click here for more free-agency updates.