Friday, July 19, 2002

Bergevin is the latest to join the long-lost loser parade to the Penguins' door: Marc Bergevin rejoined the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday after spending last season with St. Louis.

The 36-year-old defenceman had three assists in 30 games last season for the Blues after appearing in 36 games for Pittsburgh in 2000-01. He has played for seven teams in 18 NHL seasons.

Dejan Kovacevic asks if GM Craig Patrick is getting any bang for the buck out of little signings like this one.

Thursday, July 18, 2002

Shortest NHL retirement ever!: Robert Svehla is back, ladies and gents.

TORONTO (CP) -- The Toronto Maple Leafs were on the verge Thursday of filling their No. 1 need of the off-season: acquiring a stellar defenceman to bolster an average blue-line.

Defenceman Robert Svehla, 33, has agreed to come out of retirement and sign with the Leafs after a final meeting with his agent Thursday.

"Robert has agreed to terms with Toronto, now it's up to Toronto and Florida to try and consummate a deal," agent Rich Winter said from a train in Slovakia on Thursday, moments after having had lunch with Svehla in his home town of Martin. "I'm hopeful that they'll be able to do that."

The Leafs must now find compensation for the Florida Panthers, Svehla's NHL team for all of his seven seasons.

"It's been going on for almost a month," Leafs executive Bill Watters said Thursday. "We sought the right to speak to Svehla's agent about him coming out of retirement. At that point, we discussed (with Florida) three or four players that might be compensation for Svehla.

"Then we proceeded since that time to pursue a deal with Svehla."

Watters was back on the phone Thursday with the Panthers, trying to put the finishing touches on a deal.

Winter says Svehla was set on retirement but that Watters worked tirelessly at changing his mind.

"Bill pursued this really aggressively," Winter said. "He called and contacted his wife, who is a horse rider, and gave her all kinds of information about equestrian in Toronto. Bill did an outstanding job of making Robert, his wife and children feel wanted."

Svehla has agreed to a one-year deal with a series of one-year options, Winter said. He wouldn't say for how much, only to say that is was "a lot of money."

"Robert's an unusual guy," Winter said. "He doesn't want to stay in Toronto unless they want him. So he insisted that we negotiate a series of one-year options. He didn't want them to be stuck with him if he wasn't playing up to par. That's just the kind of guy he is. ...

"The Leafs offered him a three-year deal at almost the same money but he wouldn't take it."

A key part of the deal is that Svehla will hand over 25 per cent of his salary to his former club team in Slovakia, Trencin.

Svehla earned $2.75 million US last season when he had seven goals and 22 assists in 82 games with the struggling Panthers.

His career year came in 1995-96, his first full season in the NHL, when he had 57 points (8-49) in 81 games. He recorded three more 40-plus point seasons but hasn't topped 30 in the last two years.

Stevie Y sitting out: Detroit Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman will have knee surgery in early August and is expected to miss the first two months of next season.

Toronto signs another ex-Florida Panther: Four years ago, Tom Fitzgerald almost became a Maple Leaf. Yesterday, he finally sealed the deal. Fitzgerald, who declined a Toronto offer in 1998 to become captain of the expansion Nashville Predators, signed a two-year deal believed to be worth just under $1 million US.
Calgary finds salvation ... not! Failed Pittsburgh Penguin 1st-round draft pick Robert Dome was recently cut loose. Now, he's signed a 2-year deal with the Calgary Flames.

"We definitely want him to come in and challenge for a spot on our team, I can tell you that much," general Manager Craig Button told the Calgary Herald. "He's a big, strong player. He can skate; he can pass; he can shoot. It's a matter of getting those all to mesh together with some confidence."

It just has never come close to happening. Don't expect it to now, either.

Alyn McCauley called upon to do it all over again: As body after body fell around him, Toronto Maple Leafs centre Alyn McCauley stepped forward and put together a sparkling playoff run. Yesterday, the club offered a modest but reasonable reward.

The Leafs signed the 25-year-old McCauley to a one-year contract worth just under $1-million US, giving the young centre a shot to show he can duplicate his playoff heroics over an 82-game grind.

Wednesday, July 17, 2002

The long-lost loser parade to the Penguins' door continues: Pittsburgh signs pugilist Frank Leroux to a 2-way contract. How many crappy former Penguins can GM Craig Patrick collect this summer?
House of Representatives votes to congratulate the Detroit Red Wings on winning the Stanley Cup. 410 voted yes. No one voted against the measure.

Simply registering themselves as "present" were congressmen Clay, Sanders, Hulshof and Tancredo. But 20 congressmen were not even there! Blasphemers!

NRO's John J. Miller points out that David Bonior was among those not present: "David Bonior, the Michigan Democrat currently trying to win his party's gubernatorial nomination. One of his opponents should go after him for going MIA on this roll call--it might actually sway a few votes in Hockeytown."

Monday, July 15, 2002

Underwater hockey?! The end is nigh!!
Tony goes whacko: So you can't trust rumors, that's why we call them rumors... Tony Amonte signed not with the NY Islanders, not with the NY Rangers, but with the .... drumroll please ... Phoenix Coyotes??

The Phoenix Coyotes signed right wing Tony Amonte to a $24 million, four-year contract Friday in the most significant move of general manager Mike Barnett's 11 months with the team.

The free spending reverses last season's trend of salary-dumping, cost-cutting and living through the growing pains of young players.

The deal includes a $4.8 million signing bonus, back-loaded so the bulk will be paid after the Coyotes move into a new arena which promises to turn their operating losses into profits. It also offers a fifth-year option at $6 million based on Amonte's scoring and playoff leadership.

Amonte was angling for a $7 million average salary, but accepted less after a series of talks with management, including managing partner Wayne Gretzky, senior executive vice president Cliff Fletcher and Barnett.

"I'm very excited to be joining the Coyotes,'' Amonte said in a statement. "They are building a great team and heading in a new direction. I'm proud to be a part of it.''

Craig Patrick saves the day in Pittsburgh... not: Free-agent forward Steve McKenna, who played last season for the New York Rangers, signed Friday with the Pittsburgh Penguins. McKenna had two goals, one assist and 144 penalty minutes in 54 games with the Rangers, who didn't offer him a new contract. The Penguins traded Roman Simicek to the Minnesota Wild to obtain McKenna during the 2000-2001 season. But the Penguins didn't retain McKenna, who went scoreless in 34 games while racking up 100 penalty minutes that season.

Way to go, Craig, just sign your name on Lord Stanley's Cup right now, why don't ya?

More movements:
  • Defenseman Fredrik Olausson, an unrestricted free agent who played for the Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings, agreed to a one-year contract Friday with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. The deal includes an additional year at the club's option. No financial terms were announced.
  • The Ottawa Senators signed captain Daniel Alfredsson to a two-year contract Monday. Reports had circulated since Friday that the Senators and Alfredsson, a restricted free agent, had agreed to a deal worth between $9.5 million and $10 million.
  • Up-and-coming free-agent goaltender Mika Noronen signed a multiyear contract Friday that will keep him with the Buffalo Sabres.