With the long weekend upon us, and hockey still two months away, it's become apparent that there aren't a lot of stories that hockey bloggers can write about. I'm still trying, though, and thanks for checking in on me every so often. I appreciate the readership. I'm going to run through some of this stuff in point form, so let's get this party started.
- The Edmonton Oilers made some serious noise this week with the promotion of Kevin Lowe to President of Hockey Operations. In giving up his role as General Manager, Lowe hired Steve Tambellini as the Oilers new GM, and appointed Kevin Prendergast, the Oilers' long-time Vice-President of Hockey Operations, as the team's new Assistant General Manager. I have to say that this move came at as a bit of a shock, but hiring Tambellini is an excellent choice. The man knows hockey, and worked in the Vancouver Canucks' organization for the last 17 years. Maybe the Ducks and Sabres will want to trade with the Oilers again now that Lowe is out of the picture?
- The Oilers also announced that they had re-signed goaltender Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers to a two-year deal earlier in the week. The man with the longest last name in the NHL will continue minding the nets for the Oilers. Or the Springfield Falcons. Last year, he posted a record of 26-23-5 with a 2.90 goals against average and a .912 save percentage while playing for the AHL Falcons. It's too bad that he only wears "Deslauriers" on his jersey. I would have liked to see a name stretch from wrist to wrist.
- The Chicago Blackhawks shook up the hockey world by hiring legendary coach Scotty Bowman as Senior Advisor of Hockey Operations on Thursday. Bowman had been a consultant with the Detroit Red Wings since 2002. Scotty Bowman joins his son, Stan, in Chicago. Stan is the Assistant GM for the Blackhawks. This hiring will help the Blackhawks franchise in a number of ways, and it appears that Rocky Wirtz is fully committed to bringing the Blackhawks to the forefront in Chicago. Well done, Blackhawks!
- Defenceman Jaroslav Modry has decided to go home this season. The former Philadelphia Flyer and Los Angeles King has signed a two-year deal with Czech club HC Liberec. Modry was steady on the blueline for whatever team he was suiting up with, and his move home will allow him to be closer to his family. It was well-documented last season about Modry's father passing away, and this move may have had something to do with being closer to his family. Good luck, Mr. Modry!
- The Boston Bruins bought out the final year of the contract of winger Glen Murray. Murray, who had been in Beantown through the ups and downs, is now an UFA. For a team that needs some grit, toughness, and veteran leadership, Murray should have been welcomed back. However, the ridiculous contract that Michael Ryder received may have had a lot to do with this buyout.
- Does anyone actually care where Mats Sundin plays this season besides his agent? JP Barry announced that six teams are vying for Sundin's services this season, but my question is why? He's not worth $10 million per season, and wasn't he was in his prime. Personally, the Mats Sundin Saga is the new Peter Forsberg Drama. And I don't want to hear about it any longer.
- Charges against Montreal Canadiens' defenceman Ryan O'Byrne were dropped earlier this week after he apologized in court. O'Byrne had been charged with grand theft after an incident at a Tampa Bay nightclub last February. He apologized to the victim in court and agreed to do community service in Canada in exchange for the charges being dropped. Stupid is as stupid does, and O'Byrne should consider himself lucky. Next time, don't let there be a next time.
- Bill Peters will take over behind the bench for the Rockford IceHogs next season. Mike Haviland, last season's head coach, was hired by the club's parent franchise, the Chicago Blackhawks, as an assistant coach for the NHL club. Peters led the WHL's Spokane Chiefs to a Memorial Cup title last season, and had been the head coach in Spokane for the last three seasons. Rockford is getting an excellent technical coach who works well with younger players, and this will be huge for that franchise.
- The Chicago Wolves will defend their Calder Cup Championship next season with Don Granato behind the bench. Granato takes over for John Anderson who was hired by the Wolves' parent club, the Atlanta Thrashers. The Illinois native was named the Louis A.R. Pieri Award as AHL coach of the year in 2000-01 after leading the Worcester IceCats to the best record in the league. He also guided the Peoria Rivermen to the ECHL’s Kelly Cup as head coach in 1999-00. Granato is an excellent coach, and will do well in Chicago. The brother of Cammi and Tony Granato is an excellent fit in the Wolves franchise.
- Hockey Blog In Canada would like to extend its thoughts and prayers to former ECHL and Cincinnati Cyclones player Jason Baird. Mr. Baird was admitted to the Akron (Ohio) Burn Center with severe burns on July 24 after the riding lawnmower he was on exploded. Mr. Baird suffered burns over 60-65 percent of his body, and is expected to have multiple surgeries over the next 60-90 days before he is released. His wife, Bethany, is keeping a blog of his progress, and it's worth the read. Her blog also has an area where you can make a donation if you wish to help offset some of the medical expenses that the father of three faces. Get well soon, and best wishes to you and yours, Mr. Baird.
- Fans in Europe are preparing for the first-ever IIHF Victoria Cup. The trophy is set to be awarded annually to the winner between Europe’s club champion and an NHL challenger. This year, the New York Rangers will be flying to Bern, Switzerland to play SC Bern and Metallurg Magnitogorsk in the two-night event. It is the first time in history that an NHL team will play a Swiss club and the first time in 49 years that an NHL team plays in Switzerland. It has also been 17 years since a Russian club has last played an NHL team, so there are milestones being made at this event. September 30, 2008 sees SC Bern play the Rangers, and October 1, 2008 sees Metallurg Magnitogorsk tangle with the Rangers. For more information, please check out the IIHF website here.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!