Saturday, August 10, 2002

Sadly, the worst fights in hockey still, too often, come off the ice.

Friday, August 09, 2002

Killer's back: Gilmour returns to the Canadiens for at least one more season

MONTREAL (CP) - Doug Gilmour couldn't resist the urge to come back and play a 20th NHL season. Gilmour, 39, who was considering retirement, agreed to a one-year contract with an option for the 2003-04 season with the Montreal Canadiens on Friday.

"When you leave the game, it's tough to come back, if anybody wants you back," Gilmour said by telephone from his summer home in Kingston, Ont. "I have friends here who are retired players, like Wendel Clark, and they all said to keep playing, that if you're still competitive and you want to do it, then do it.

"This (playing hockey) is the only thing I've done since I was a child, so I'm really excited."

Thursday, August 08, 2002

Will Stevie Y retire? He says if the pain doesn't stop, Yzerman will not return to hockey...
Overpaid and underworked: The Ottawa Senators will have to pay center Radek Bonk $6.7 million thanks to arbitration.
ESPN Cuts Back NHL Schedule: Next season, ESPN begins a six-year contract to broadcast NBA games -- a move that may be the most significant in the cable network's history. To find room on their schedule, something had to go -- in this case it's the NHL.

Although ESPN and the NHL tried to baffle us with BS in their press announcement yesterday, talking about how they would show more "critical games" after the All-Star break, they couldn't help but reveal the truth in this graf:

In all, ESPN is reducing the number of games on its schedule by 30 percent. Regular season games on ESPN and ESPN2 drops from 102 to 71 next season. The network showed 128 NHL games in 2000-01.

Ouch! NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman can't be happy about this, and in fact, may be wishing that he never left his job at the NBA to take over the reins at NHL HQ in New York. No mention was made of what this might mean for the Stanley Cup playoffs, which generally overlap with the NBA playoffs each Spring.

It's hard to blame ESPN for walking this path. The NBA has higher ratings, and far better demographics than the NHL. In fact, hockey ratings slipped 17 percent on ESPN and 8 percent on ESPN2 last season. (NBA ratings on NBC dropped 35 percent last season, but because ESPN charges cable systems per subscriber to carry the network, it was able to offer a better contract to the league than NBC.)

Luckily, courtesy of our wonderful capitalist economy, there are alternatives for the hockey starved. I'm talking about NHL Center Ice, a pay-per-view package from DirecTV Sports that provides up to 40 regular season games per week for only $139 per season. Though the package is marketed by DirecTV, you don't need a dish to get it, as many cable systems that have upgraded to digital have enough capacity to carry the extra channels.

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

Hockey fans examining NHL's famed Stanley Cup in Yekaterinburg on Sunday.
Theo close to signing with the Hawks according to the Denver Post.

Former Colorado Avalanche wing Theo Fleury is close to signing a free-agent contract with the Chicago Blackhawks, NHL sources close to Fleury said.

To Russia with love?The Toronto Star.

The Stanley Cup will be logging some serious air miles in the coming weeks. First it will travel around Russia with Igor Larionov, Pavel Datsyuk and Maxim Kuznetsov, all members of the Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings. The Cup is even scheduled to be taken to the office of Russian President Vladimir Putin. After Russia, the Cup moves onto Sweden where Norris-trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom and Wings teammate Tomas Holmstrom get an opportunity to share it with their countrymen. Finally, Stanley finishes its European odyssey with a visit to the Czech Republic where recently retired Wings goalie Dominik Hasek finally gets to bask in its glow.

Monday, August 05, 2002

Ferraro moves on, kiddies awarded fat contracts: Center Ray Ferraro, who overcame his small stature to become a star in the NHL, retired Friday after 18 seasons to join ESPN as a hockey broadcaster.

Dallas Stars forward Jason Arnott was awarded a two-year, $7.5 million contract by an arbitrator on Sunday. Arnott, 27, will receive $3.65 million for next season and $3.85 million for 2003-2004.

Brendan Morrison re-signed with the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday after winning his arbitration case against the club. Morrison will reportedly earn $2.15 million next year and $2.45 million the following season under the two-year contract. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound center made just $775,000 last season.