Friday, August 16, 2002

Cassels to Columbus: Free agent center Andrew Cassels signed a three-year contract Thursday with the Columbus Blue Jackets, a move that he claims had more to do with family than hockey. ''The first thing when I went into this was I wanted to get back East because my family is going to relocate in the Toronto area,'' said Cassels, who spent the last three seasons in Vancouver. ''I wanted for my kids to be able to get to me or for myself to be able to get back and see them, so that was really the biggest factor in this decision.''

Cassels, 33, had 11 goals and 39 assists in 53 games last year. He is slated to earn a base salary of $2.6 million this season. The second and third years of the deal are at Cassels' option.

The Blue Jackets are hoping the addition of Cassels, a slick set-up man with plenty of power-play experience, will bolster an offense that scored the fewest goals in the NHL last year.

The move also reunites Cassels with former Hartford Whalers linemate and current Columbus left wing Geoff Sanderson. They played together in Hartford from 1991-97, and both players enjoyed their best offensive seasons playing on the same line in 1992-93. Cassels, a 12-year veteran who has 174 goals and 452 assists in 847 games with Montreal, Hartford, Calgary and Vancouver, sought out Sanderson before making a final decision.

Thursday, August 15, 2002

Theo lands in Chicago: The Chicago Blackhawks signed veteran winger Theo Fleury to a two-year, $8-million contract Thursday, beating out the Florida Panthers and Phoenix Coyotes for the unrestricted free agent's services. Fleury, who made $6.5 million last season, became a free agent when the New York Rangers declined to exercise his $7 million option.

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Ulf Dahlen returns to the Stars: The Dallas Stars announced Tuesday they have signed forward Ulf Dahlen to a one-year contract. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Dahlen, 35, appeared in 69 games with the Washington Capitals last season and had 23 goals and 29 assists for 52 points. Posting his first 20-goal season since 1993-94, Dahlen tied for second on the Capitals in game-winning goals (4), tied for third in power play goals (7), fourth in goals, fourth in assists and fourth in points.

The Ostersund, Sweden, native makes his return to the Stars after spending parts of five seasons with the club from 1989-94. In 306 games with Minnesota/Dallas, Dahlen tallied 113 goals and 129 assists for 242 points.

Dahlen has scored 20 or more goals eight times in his career, and his best offensive season with the Minnesota North Stars was in 1992-93 when he had 35 goals and 39 assists for 74 points. He also netted a career-high 36 goals in 1991-92 with Minnesota. A first round selection by the New York Rangers (seventh overall) in the 1985 NHL Entry Draft, Dahlen has appeared in 903 career NHL games, recording 284 goals and 334 assists for 618 points. In 74 career NHL playoff games, he has posted 14 goals and 22 assists for 36 points.

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

THN ad for NHLFA
The cyclops returns, this time with Boston: Bryan Berard's comeback story will continue after the defenceman signed a one-year contract plus an option year with Boston Bruins on Tuesday.

The new deal will help Berard, who played with the New York Rangers last season, continue to pay off a $6.5-million US insurance settlement he received after suffering a career-threatening eye injury in March 2000 while playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Berard, 25, had two goals and 21 assists while playing all 82 games last year but the Rangers decided not to pick up his option for next season which was worth $3 million US. He'll reportedly earn around $850,000 US plus incentives with the Bruins after making $2 million US with the Rangers last season.
LORD STANLEY'S CUP IN ODINTSOVO

The Stanley Cup, the main trophy of the National Hockey League, arrived in the town of Odintsovo, the Moscow region.

Chairman of the State Sport Committee Vyacheslav Fetisov and Stanley Cup winner Igor Larionov (Detroit Red Wings) took the silver cup to the municipal hockey and figure-skating centre in Odintsovo.

Traditionally, the Cup winner can show the award where he wants within 24 hours. Igor Larionov decided to show it to children - the Russian hockey hope.
Alexander Daigle may return to NHL... with the Penguins?: The big flop will attend a tryout with Pittsburgh, eschewing other offers. This presumes that he is ready to play for little money (since Pgh has none), if he can even win a job...

Nobody is quite sure what is motivating Daigle to come back. He told Radio-Canada during an interview aired in January that he knew from the time he was 16 that he didn't want to play hockey and only did it "for the money."

In response to the news, Jim Iovino gapes at Craig Patrick, and asks, "This is it?"
This day in history...: 1981 - The Winnipeg Jets select Dale Hawerchuk first overall in the NHL entry draft.

Monday, August 12, 2002

Arturs back home in Riga has been drinking too much "wodka". In an interview with Russia's Izvestia, Arturs Irbe is still of the view that even the much-favoured Detroit Red Wings could have lost the Stanley Cup finals to Carolina.

"It all could be different if it wasn't for the accident in the third overtime" (where Detroit's Igor Larionov scored within seconds of tying Edmonton Oilers' Petr Klima's record for the longest OT in the Stanley Cup finals).

"Till then, Detroit had no idea how to beat us," Irbe said.

"During the month February, we had a series of meetings, to debate how to organize our play better, to achieve the best result. We have agreed on a defensive model, giving up attractiveness for effectiveness, even though I have heard that some experts find our game quite attractive, too.

"The idea is simple: your oppoent can't score on you if he doesn't have the puck. We agreed that we should win more than our share of battles in the corners, that we should keep the puck longer, especially by the boards. Having set a direction, there was no panic after losses, but there was no euphoria after victories, either," Irbe said.

Irbe said he's eager to find out whether the Hurricanes have got what it takes to build on their success, but he has faith: "Yes, there've been some changes, but the basic, core group has remained almost intact. That fills me with hope we're going to show everybody we're not a just one-season shocking wonder."

No matter what, however, Irbe's not ready to retire yet; after all, compared to the 41-year-old Larionov, at 35, Irbe is still a young pup.

"I'll play so long as my health lets me," irbe said. "I hope to play at least four more years, so I can play for my country in the 2006 world championships, back home, in Riga."