With the trade deadline looming large this season, pieces are being shuffled throughout the NHL. Whether it be waivers, trades, or just washing their hands of players, NHL teams are gearing up for the Second Season like no other. At least, that's what we're to believe if the rumours are all true. However, Toronto GM Brian Burke has killed off a number of trade rumours, and Ottawa's Bryan Murray continues to squash speculation. With the number of sellers hovering around seven teams right now, supply and demand suggests that teams will overpay for that "missing piece". With that in mind, let's take a look at some of the news from the hockey world that may or may not include deadline deals. I prefer fact over fiction, so there will be no rumour-mongering here.
- The New Jersey Devils began tinkering today as GM Lou Lamoriello made a deal. The Devils dealt Finnish defenceman Anssi Salmela to the Atlanta Thrashers for impending free agent defenceman Niclas Havelid and forward Myles Stoesz. In acquiring Havelid, the Devils get a solid, puck-moving defenceman who is sound in his own zone. Salmela has been up and down between New Jersey and Lowell this season, playing in 17 NHL games while collecting three assists. Stoesz, a Manitoba native, was playing for the ECHL's Gwinnett Gladiators, and will probably end up in Trenton with the ECHL Devils.
- The Montreal Canadiens got a little tougher today as they signed Andrew Conboy to a three-year deal. Conboy is probably best remembered as one of the two Michigan State players suspended for the rest of the NCAA season on January 26 for an attack on a Michigan Wolverine player. Conboy jumped Michigan's Steve Kampfer from behind after a clean hit on teammate Corey Tropp before Tropp nailed him with his stick. Conboy will report to the AHL's Hamilton Bulldogs and prepare for the Calder Cup Playoffs.
- Dallas Stars' forward Steve Ott already took a game off against Pittsburgh, but he was officially handed a one-game suspension today for an apparent eye gouge on Anaheim's Travis Moen. There is no evidence it happened, but on-ice officials made the claim that Ott did indeed gouge Moen's eye. Ott pleaded his case as accidental, and the NHL gave him the one-game break. He should be back in the lineup tomorrow against San Jose.
- Mark Bell's time in The Big Apple is done. The Rangers sent Bell to the AHL's Hartford Wolf Pack in order to clear room and cap space for the arrival of Sean Avery. Bell still hasn't been the same player since pleading guilty for drunk driving causing injury and hit-and-run.
- As stated directly above, the Dallas Stars placed Sean Avery on re-entry waivers in the hope that they can rid themselves of the "agitator". Sure, they take a cap hit, but the cancer in the dressing room should be gone. It is expected the New York Rangers will claim him after having the Stars send him to their AHL affiliate.
- In the first nationally-televised sledge hockey game on TSN, Team Canada defeated Team USA 2-1 via the shootout to win the gold medal at the 2009 Hockey Canada Cup. Adam Dixon, who has one goal in his career with the national team, scored the only shootout goal to give Canada the win. Graeme Murray put Canada up early in the first period, but Jimmy Connelly's point shot on the powerplay in the third period pulled the Americans even. Team USA carried the play in the latter half of the game, but Canadian goaltender Paul Rosen stood tall, making several spectacular saves. Congrats to the Canadian men as they brought home their third gold medal in as many tournaments!
- In sports science news, the sledge hockey game featured a new innovation for the sledge teams. The arena in Vancouver is a test facility for the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games, and the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) put down a layer of ice inside the benches. Canadian Billy Bridges seemed to approve of the innovation: "Our team has never competed at an event with ice in the benches. The ice has allowed for smooth transition for the players from bench to ice surface and then back again. We definitely notice a difference of how quickly we can get on the ice for a change. VANOC has done a great job with this facility." Great job, VANOC, and I look forward to seeing how this innovation speeds up the sledge game at the Olympics.
- The 24th World Universiade Games in Harbin, China have wrapped up, and Canada's university hockey players made a heck of a showing. On Friday, the Canadian women scored a 3-1 victory over the host Chinese team, giving them the gold medal. McGill University's Cathy Chartrand, York University's Courtney Unruh, and University of Alberta's Rayanne Reeve scored the tallies for Canada. In an impressive showing, the Canadian women went undefeated at 7-0, and outscored their opponents by a combined 46-7 score! University of Manitoba's Stacey Corfield recorded the win in net. Congrats to the ladies, and good luck on your CIS Playoff push!
- On Saturday, the Canadian men came up short at the World Universiade Games, but still brought home a silver medal for their efforts. The Canadians were defeated in the gold medal game by the Russian team by a 4-2 score. Both teams came into the game undefeated and unchallenged. Canada had advanced by defeating Slovakia 8-1, while Russia hammered Kazakhstan 7-1. Marat Valiullin, Denis Fahrutdinov, Petr Kuokhriakov, and Konstantin Kulikov scored for the Russians, while the Canadians got goals from the University of Saskatchewan's Steve DaSilva and Steve Gillen. Congratulations to the men on a great run, and good luck in your quests for a CIS Championship!
- Canadians are making a huge impact on NCAA women's hockey. Four Canadians were announced as finalists for the Patty Kazmeier Award which goes to the best women's hockey player in the NCAA. Sarah Vaillancourt (Harvard), Meghan Agosta (Mercyhurst), Rebecca Johnston (Cornell), and Jennifer Wakefield (New Hampshire) were the four Canadian ladies announced. Other nominees included Wisconsin's Hilary Knight, Erika Lawler and goaltender Jessie Vetter, Boston College's Molly Schaus and Minnesota's Monique Lamoureux and Gigi Marvin. The three finalists will be announced on March 10, and the winner will receive the award on March 21 during the Women's Frozen Four in Boston. Congratulations to all the finalists on their successful seasons!
March 4 is Wednesday. Are you ready?
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!