Hockey Headlines

Friday, 18 September 2009

Two Quick Notes

It's later, I'm back from a long day of being out in the fresh air, and a group of us conference people are planning on heading out and having a few beverages to celebrate the fun we had all week. While I will still be in Portland until September 22, it's nice to know that I can sleep in tomorrow and not have to be on a strict itinerary to keep up with the conference. However, I did log in a couple of times, and noticed two important pieces of news today. Let's get to those quickly as I have limited writing time - the party is waiting!

First, Air Canada, along with the Canadian government, have cut a deal with the American government regarding charter flights within the United States of America.

The Canadian government was alerted last month by the US Department of Transportation that all charters that moved between US cities would end if they originated in Canada. With NHL teams making long roadtrips - the Canucks play away from GM Place for over a month due to the 2010 Winter Olympics - this presented an obvious problem for the Canadian NHL teams.

However, through the work of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Transport Minister John Baird, and Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon in Washington this past, the charter flights can resume as scheduled as allowed by the US Department of Transportation, meaning the six Canadian teams won't have travel nightmares this season.

There has been no word on whether the AHL or ECHL teams face the same dilemma, but it is assumed that if the NHL received the green light, these leagues will also receive the same courtesy.

The second major note today is the long-anticipated trade of Phil Kessel to the Maple Leafs. Kessel, as you are probably aware, was asking for a long-term contract with the Bruins in excess of $5 million per season, and the Bruins, wedged against the ceiling of the salary cap, were unable and/or unwilling to make sacrifices to sign the young sniper for this upcoming season to that amount.

With the move today, Boston receives Toronto's first- and second-round picks in 2010, and a first round pick in 2011. Toronto promptly signed the winger to a five-year deal worth $27 million for a cap hit of $5.4 million per season.

Does this make Toronto better? Yes. Does it make Boston better? Long-term views say that Boston will be ok. Short-term views may see it as a step back, but moving Kessel also gives other players better opportunities. I'd call it a wash for Boston considering their good, young talent.

I won't lie about this: I like this move for Toronto IF they intend on making Kessel a cornerstone piece of their franchise. With the signing that GM Brian Burke made today, it appears that Kessel will be one of those players. However, production speaks louder than words, and it will certainly remain to be seen if Kessel can equal or improve on his performance from last season without proven assist machines like Marc Savard getting him the puck in places where goals come easily.

Air travel conundrum? Solved. Phil Kessel drama? Resolved. Party-time for this foot soldier? You betcha. Have a good night, kids. I know I will.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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