It cool and rainy this time of year in my part of the world, and that means that autumn is nearly here. Of course, the season opens overseas on October 4th, but I'm excited for October 9th when all the other teams across the NHL take to the ice. However, we've got some time before the season to start, so there are still stories being written for the upcoming season. Let's take a look at some of these.
- The Los Angeles Kings signed Jarett Stoll to a four-year, $14.4 million contract yesterday. I'm not sure if his play warranted that kind of payday, but the Kings are clearly hurting to get up to the minimum cap requirement, so maybe this was done for that reason. In any case, Stoll should be able to provide the wedding that he and Rachel Hunter want with that kind of coin.
- The St. Louis Blues locked up 2008 first-round draft pick Alex Pietrangelo yesterday. Terms of the deal were not released. Is it just me, or does St. Louis have some gifted defencemen in their system? Eric Brewer, Barret Jackman, Erik Johnson, and Alex Pietrangelo are a pretty impressive top-four on any blueline. Much like Los Angeles, they seem to be building from the blueline.
- The Ottawa Senators added Brad Isbister to their roster yesterday. Isbister signed a two-way deal with the Senators. The former Winnipeg Jets draft pick scored five goals and six assists in 55 games last season. He's hardly what Ottawa needs in terms of a power forward, but he's a big body and should find time playing alongside a guy like Mike Fisher or Chris Neil on the third or fourth line.
- The Atlanta Thrashers signed 2008 first-round draft pick Zach Bogosian yesterday to a multi-year deal. Atlanta is far from being a dominant force in the Eastern Conference, but this signing should help. Bogosian is a solid defenceman, and has a great outlet pass. Kovalchuk should benefit if Bogosian plays with the big club this season.
- The Boston Bruins signed NHL veteran Stephane Yelle to a one-year, $750,000 deal. The two-time Stanley Cup winner is a skilled checking forward who routinely plays against the opposing team's top line, and this should make Boston a little better for this season. He should do wonders for teaching guys like Milan Lucic the defensive side of the game to help the Bruins improve. This, to me, is an excellent signing for the Bruins.
- Chris Chelios has reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with the Red Wings, ensuring he'll be back for his 63rd season in the NHL. Chelios will take a pay cut from his $850,000 salary from last season, but he will remain with the franchise. The Red Wings have also come to agreements with defenceman Kyle Quincey and forward Darren McCarty on contracts. Honestly, Ken Holland is a salary cap genius. None of the major pieces of his team have left, he's added Marian Hossa, and he keeps the role players happy. If there was an award for management, he should be nominated yearly (and win it yearly).
- The Ottawa Senators swung a deal with the Vancouver Canucks. Ottawa sent defenceman Lawrence Nycholat to Vancouver in exchange for forward Ryan Shannon. The speedy Shannon played most of last season for the Moose, but potted five goals and eight assists with the Canucks last season. Nycholat played the entire season in Binghampton last year, appearing in 77 games for the Baby Sens. Personally, this trade was more about strengthening a couple of AHL franchises more than helping the NHL franchises.
- Mats Sundin was in Toronto yesterday for a charity golf tournament. He still hasn't made a decision about the upcoming season, and I still don't care. Stop asking him the question, and stop wasting time worrying about the answer, Mainstream Media.
- The Vancouver Canucks announced that they will be retiring fan favourite Trevor Linden's jersey, and hoisting it to the rafters on December 17, 2008. Linden was always respected and adored by the Vancouver faithful, and this is a fitting tribute. Linden, much like Stan Smyl, was always the embodiment of the Canucks franchise. He was cheered when he wore opposing teams' uniforms, and will always be remembered as Canuck. Congratulations, Mr. Linden!
- The Canucks also announced that they will honour Luc Bourdon on October 9, 2008 prior to their home opener. Each fan through the doors will receive a commemorative pin in honour of Bourdon, and the Canucks will hold a moment of silence to honour their fallen soldier. For the entire season, a Bourdon sticker will be worn on the helmets of each Vancouver Canuck player. This is a classy move by the Canucks.
- The AHL's Chicago Wolves signed Jeff Hamilton to a contract on Wedenesday. Hamilton notched nine goals and 15 assists in 58 games with the Carolina Hurricanes last season, and should provide the Wolves with some scoring punch after Vancouver signed MVP Jason Krog away from the Wolves. Hamilton is a former Willie Marshall Award as the AHL’s top goal scorer, having scored 43 goals for Bridgeport in 2003-04. Solid work by Chicago to land this veteran player.
- The Norfolk Admirals recently released their 20th anniversary logo on August 30. August 30th, 1989 was the date that the very first Admirals logo was made official upon their acceptance into the ECHL as the Hampton Roads Admirals. This new logo incorporates symbols from the three previous logos as well as their current one. Dennis McEwen, known as "The Original Admiral" for being one of the first players ever signed by the Admirals in 1989, designed the anniversary logo. The Norfolk Admirals joined the AHL in 2000-01 after winning three ECHL championships in eleven years. Pretty decent logo. I can only hope it's made into a patch, and not some garbage anniversary jersey.
- Hockey Canada announced that Pat Quinn will take the reins of the Canadian World Junior squad this year after Benoit Groulx resigned to take the coaching job for the AHL's Rochester Americans. Honestly, with Quinn's NHL and international experience, this appointment is as good as any that Hockey Canada has made over the last decade. Quinn recently coached the Canadian Under-18 team to a gold medal at the World Championships. Obviously, Quinn commands respect just due to his resume, but his coaching style is effective, and he seems to be an excellent teacher for the young players. Good luck in Ottawa at the 2009 World Junior Championships, Mr. Quinn, and Go Canada Go!
- Speaking of which, the 2012 World Junior Championships have been awarded to the joint effort of Calgary and Edmonton. The games will be played in both the Pengrowth Saddledome in Calgary and Rexall Place in Edmonton, providing Canadian fans with two excellent arenas to fill and cheer on the boys in red and white. Of course, we can't look too far ahead with Ottawa hosting the event in 2009, and Regina/Saskatoon hosting in 2010. If you're a fan of the World Junior Championships like I am, this is excellent news!
- The women's qualifying tournament for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics got underway in Liepaja, Latvia, and Maribor, Slovenia on Tuesday. Bulgaria, who are making their international debut, were absolutely thrashed by Italy 41-0, and then by Croatia 30-1. Italy outshot the Bulgarians 122-4 in their game, the most lopside shot total ever in women's competition. Olga Gospodinova scored the historical goal for Bulgaria, the first goal scored by a Bulgarian woman in international competiton. To the Bulgarians credit, they only have two lines, but good on them for competing and proudly representing their country.
- Other winners in the women's qualifying tournament from Pool A include Slovakia over Latvia by a 2-0 score; Slovakia over Italy by a 3-1 score; Latvia trouncing Croatia by a 9-0 score; and, at the time of writing this, Latvia was hammering Bulgaria 23-0 in the second period. Slovakia has two games remaining, against the Bulgarians and Croatians, while the Italians meet up with the Croatians and Latvians in their remaining games.
- Other winners in the women's qualifying tournament from Pool B include Norway over Great Britain by a 3-1 score; Austria crushing Slovenia by a 7-0 score; Norway defeating Austria by a 1-0 score; Great Britain defeating Slovenia by a 5-1 score; and Great Britain defeating Austria by a 4-3 score. The only remaining game from that pool goes later today with Norway meeting Slovenia.
- The KHL got underway on Tuesday as well. Alexanders Nizivijs of Dinamo Riga made history by scoring the first goal in the KHL, and led his team to a 4-2 win over Amur Khabarovsk. Salavat Yulayev Ufa, last year's Russian League champions, defeated last year's runner-ups in Lokomotiv Yaroslavl by a 4-1 score. MVD Balashikha defeated the Radulov brothers and Vityaz Podolsk 5-4 in a shootout. Dynamo Minsk defeated Metallurg Novokuznetsk 5-4 in overtime. Spartak Moscow made Ray Emery's debut with Atlant Mytishchi a forgettable one as Emery allowed all six goals in a 6-5 Spartak win. Wednesday's action saw Ak Bars Kazan defeat Jaromir Jagr and Avangard Omsk by a 4-2 score. Barys Astana defeated Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk by a 3-1 margin. And finally, Metallurg Magnitogorsk defeated SKA St. Petersburg at home by a 2-1 score.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!