Wednesday, October 09, 2002

I'm outta here: Sorry gang, but I won't be posting for a couple of weeks - I'm off to my wedding! See yinsall when I return from our honeymoon, round about Oct. 28.
Ontario PM made secret tax deal with sports teams: The Toronto Blue Jays and other professional sports teams in Ontario received a $10-million secret tax break from the provincial government under a cabinet order passed in the last days of the Mike Harris government, the Globe & Mail reports.
Zubie returns to Washington: Restricted free agent Dainius Zubrus signed a two-year contract Tuesday to stay with the Washington Capitals.

He had a career-high 17 goals and 43 points last season, when he moved from left wing to center on a line with Jaromir Jagr after Adam Oates was traded. Zubrus was drafted No. 15 overall in 1996 by Philadelphia. The Capitals acquired the Lithuanian in a trade with Montreal in March 2001. He has 66 goals and 155 assists in 422 career NHL games.

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

Washington Capitals acquire Mike Grier! Yee-haw! I was certainly pleased to see Rick Berry end up on the Caps' blue line, but it is surely sweeter to see Monster Grier take up the wing in DC. He had an off season, but he could be a game-breaker. Well, at least he'll knock heads and skate fast.

The Edmonton Oilers traded right wing Mike Grier to Washington on Monday for the Capitals' second-round and third-round choices in the 2003 NHL draft. The Edmonton Journal, the Washington Post, and the Washington Times are also on the case.
Waiver draft moves caught me off guard: I don't know why Pittsburgh exposed defenceman Rick Berry, but I certainly understand why Washington picked him up. As for the rest, suffice it to say they were not on my list of potential steals...

The Columbus Blue Jackets claimed Mathieu, a 6-6, 221-pound defenseman, from the Tampa Bay Lightning with the second pick in the draft, then traded him to the Florida Panthers for right wing Petr Tenkrat. Tenkrat had been taken from the Nashville Predators with the third pick. The 22-year-old Biron was the 21st selection in the 1998 draft, but he has just four goals and five assists in 110 games with two teams. A 25-year-old Czech, Tenkrat had eight goals and 16 assists in 58 games last season, his second in the NHL.

The first pick went to the Atlanta Thrashers, who took defenseman Stephane Robidas from the Canadiens. Montreal also lost diminutive defenseman Francis Bouillon to Nashville with the fourth selection. The Dallas Stars then acquired Robidas for future considerations. The 25-year-old has seven goals and 16 assists in 122 NHL games - all with Montreal. The 5-8 Bouillon, 26, has three goals and 24 assists in 131 games, all with the Habs.

The New York Rangers took Calgary Flames right wing Ronald Petrovicky, another 25-year-old Czech, who recorded nine goals and 12 assists in his first 107 NHL games.

Monday, October 07, 2002

Raising 99 to the rafters

The Kings are finally retiring Wayne Gretzky's jersey this Wednesday night. There is a reason why it has taken so long. It turns out that The Great One has been pushing the date off. The L.A. Times has a long tribute to him where they explain:
All Is Forgiven

While Gretzky mended fences with Anschutz, he also was waiting for former King owner Bruce McNall to emerge from behind the barbed-wire fences of federal prison, where McNall served nearly four years on two counts of bank fraud and one each of wire fraud and conspiracy.

By McNall's count, his misdeeds cost Gretzky about $1 million, plus about $400,000 in legal fees for McNall and some associates. Yet, Gretzky stuck with him, visiting him wherever he was moved and offering support—but never explaining why he put off the Kings' requests to retire his jersey alongside those of Dave Taylor, Rogie Vachon and Marcel Dionne.

It was Rick Minch, Gretzky's personal assistant, who told McNall that although the NHL retired Gretzky's No. 99 and the Edmonton Oilers retired his jersey, Gretzky wouldn't participate in a ceremony in Los Angeles without McNall.

"I thought it was one of the most incredible things anybody had ever done," said McNall, who is executive-producing three films and writing a book to pay his legal fees and repay his victims. "I almost couldn't imagine it. I told him to do what's best for him, but he said he wouldn't do it until I was able to participate. I was flabbergasted by it all."

Gretzky is famously loyal to friends. He helped World Hockey Assn. teammate Bill Flett through alcohol rehabilitation and performed similar mercies for "countless" others, said his agent, Mike Barnett. "Whether it be a car here or some other form of assistance, you couldn't count them all on two hands," Barnett said.

His bond with McNall, though, was unique.

"I felt really strongly that Bruce had gone through a tremendous amount and had been punished and served his time," Gretzky said, "and had it not been for the Kings organization and Bruce, I would never have played in Los Angeles."
Hockey Night in Canada...Nice to catch a game every 50 years or so:
Introduced by royal trumpets and walking along a red carpet, Queen Elizabeth II dropped the ceremonial first puck Sunday night before an exhibition game between Vancouver and San Jose.
The British monarch, who last attended a hockey game 51 years ago, dropped the puck between Markus Naslund of the Canucks and Mike Ricci of the Sharks.
She then retired to a royal suite -- complete with decorative grass and colorful floral arrangements -- where she was to watch the first period before leaving.
The queen is in Vancouver with her husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, as part of a 12-day tour of Canada, celebrating the 50th anniversary of her rule. The royal couple arrived Friday in Iqaluit, the capital of Canada's newest territory, Nunavut.

Is that a royal kickoff or what?