It's Thursday, and there aren't a lot of major hockey stories that are dominating the headlines today. There's some basketball player who was holding a press conference to announce he signed a contract to play somewhere, but who really cares about basketball? There are more important things going on in the world of sports than some player making a mockery of his sport and league, so let's get off that island. We've got player news, uniform news, and a Russian who is all about the money, but has yet to show up when it really matters. We'll kick it off with that story. Let's go!
- The Los Angeles Kings' saga of being in and out of the Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes sees the team out of the running again after they rejected agent Jay Grossman's counter-offer to the contract proposed by the Kings. Here's a quick tip for both Grossman and Kovalchuk: win something, and then ask for more money. Kovalchuk has yet to advance past the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, yet he's asking for Gretzky/Lemieux money. Personally, I wouldn't pay it.
- The Vancouver Canucks make a couple of appearances today, but we'll start with the retirement talk. A third banner will be raised to the rafters at the newly-named Rogers Arena this year as the Canucks have announced that Markus Naslund's #19 will be retired. Naslund captained the Canucks from 2000-2008, and is the franchise's leading scorer. Naslund was a major player in community initiatives, so this will be special for the city of Vancouver and Naslund himself. He joins former captains Stan Smyl and Trevor Linden as the only men to have their number retired by the Canucks, and the ceremony will go down on December 11, 2010.
- The arena that the Canucks call home got itself a new name after General Motors decided to not renew their naming rights for this upcoming season. GM Place, affectionately known as "the Garage", will now be called Rogers Arena as the telecom giant puts its name on another sports facility. Rogers has the rights to the name on the Vancouver arena for the next ten years. GM, in their defence, will remain as a major sponsor inside the building as they push the Chevrolet brand.
- The Canucks also showed off their 40th Anniversary throwback jerseys, complete with patch! Lots to like on this jersey: monsterous logo, 1970s-style captaincy letters, the "V" on the sleeve stripes, no names on the back of the jersey, and great hockey stripes. The hates? That damned Reebok logo, the curved hems at the bottom of the jersey, and tapered collar into the NHL shield logo. Look, I get the sponsorship angle in terms of having Reebok design these uniforms, but a throwback should "throw back" to the actual uniform. Overall, though, a very good design, and one I can endorse.
- In the continuing TSN series that looks at the four Canadian municipalities that are on the NHL's radar for possible expansion or relocation, Winnipeg is tops of the three cities seen right now. Winnipeg's overall mark of "B" ranked them ahead of Hamilton, who scored a "D+", and Toronto, who scored a "D-". Quebec City goes tomorrow, but with no NHL-suitable arena at their disposal, it appears Winnipeg may be the best Canadian choice for the NHL by the standards set out in this study.
- The Nashville Predators have their new captain after having dealt Jason Arnott to the New Jersey Devils. Defenceman Shea Weber has been annointed the new captain, and becomes the fifth captain in team history and the first captain that had been drafted by the Predators. Kudos to Weber as he is one of the best young defencemen in the NHL!
- Montreal Canadiens defenceman PK Subban added some hardware to his mantle today as he was awarded the AHL's President's Award in recognition of his outstanding accomplishments for this past season. I've seen this kid play, and he is an outstanding skater with a knack for being in the right place at the right time. He was a first team AHL All-Star this year as well as being part of the AHL All-Rookie team, and he showed amazing talent all season long. A very deserving award for a highly-skilled player!
- The rest of the AHL's award winners can be found on this page. Congratulations go out to Howard Dolgan of the Syracuse Crunch, Tom Mitchell of the Binghamton Senators, linesman David Butova, and the Chicago Wolves for their award wins!
- The Hershey Bears went back to the future in bringing back defenceman Lawrence Nycholat for the 2010-11 AHL season. Nycholat spent last season with the Manitoba Moose where he suited up for 37 games due to injury. Nycholat won the 2006 Calder Cup with the Bears, and put up career highs with 13 goals and 57 points. As long as he remains healthy, this signing can make the already-dangerous Hershey Bears a whole lot scarier.
- Lastly, the requests for comic strips has gone out, and we have a number of responses. On Saturday, I'll post the first-ever HBIC Funnies Page that will feature at least three hockey-related comic strips as well as blurbs about the strips and links to where you can read more. If you know of anyone else who wants their comic strips featured - professional artists or amateur doodlers are welcome - please put them in contact with me!
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!