Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Road Trip!

HockeyNation will be in sleep mode for the next little bit, like our friend the GM, it's time to recharge the batteries and take a bit of a break.

We're off to tour the fine outposts that give us such sturdy hockey players, should be back at the hockey desk in a couple of weeks!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

NHLPA elects new board

The ancient battles now fought, the old hands will lay down their arms and turn over the cause to a new generation.

The NHLPA elected a new board yesterday as a new cast will take over the job of guiding the some 700 NHL players through the minefields of contracts, suspension meetings and such.

The changing of the guard will finally give the weary Trevor Linden a break from the boiling pot of water known as labour relations betwee the NHL and the NHLPA.

Linden served as president for eight tumultuos years a near decade of revolt, strikes, lock outs and even a cancelled season. For Linden who is a soft spoken and genuine kind of person it must have been a tiring role to try and bring satisfaction to all who toiled for the NHL and paid dues to the PA.

There are seven members on the NHLPA board, five from North America and two from Europe. The new North American reps include; Kevyn Adams, Alyn McCauley, Wade Redden, Mathieu Schneider and Marty Turco. Daniel Alfredsson and Arturs Irbe hold the vice-presidential positions reserved for European players.

The change over comes after some heated debate over the past dealings by the union and the changing of the leadership from Bob Goodenow days to the Ted Saskin era, a changeover that did not go as smooth as many had hoped. In fact, there to this day still is some backlash over the change and some ill will towards Saskin.

The new board has its job cut out for it, as they try to start anew in September and keep the NHLPA on track to represent its players to its best ability. At times a thankless job, but one that needs to be done.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Muckler feels the heat

John Muckler probably isn't leaving the house today, the Sens GM has been under the gun in the last couple of weeks as some popular Sens horses begin to trickle away from their Kanata stable.

The exodus started with Zdeno Chara who took one look at the zeroes offered up by Boston (with a significant non zero at the from) and chose to relocate to New England.

Financial concerns also lead to a trade yesterday in which Martin Havlat found himself Chicago bound as the Senators chose to let him go to the Wind rather than try to pay what he wanted.

Of course the return for the lost investments has not been universally accepted as fair value, the armchair GM brigade declaring that the Sens have been hosed and they are a much lesser team than that which finished off the playoffs, short once again of that ultimate goal the Stanley Cup.

While Muckler takes the heat, he has some defenders who have offered up that he's indeed done the best he could under a changing landscape that should have more than a few Sens fans concerned about ever reaching that Holy Grail.

Al Strachan gave Muckler a nod for telling it like it is with a column that explains the dilemma that GM's and fans may soon find themselves in on a regular basis.

Bruce Garrioch examined the make up of the 2006-07 Sens and how it's going to be a markedly different looking squad that breaks training camp.

Wayne Stevenson took a look at the holes and suggested that the Sens need a bit of help in their front end, if they have serious dreams about a shot at Stanley next season.

All this attention and its only July! Imagine the glare once the Sens take to the ice on October 4th when they kick off the season on the road against arch rival Toronto.

Muckler has had to have a thick skin through his days in Edmonton and New York, it might come in handy over the short term as the Sens adjust to the new fiscal landscape of the NHL.

NHL Releases 2006-07 schedule

October 6th is the day to circle on your calendar that's the night that NHL returns to regular season action, as three cities host the debut for a brand new season.

The first game of the 2006-07 season will feature the Buffalo Sabres traveling to Raleigh, sitting through one of those unbearable banner raising ceremonies and then beginning the cause to dethrone the Stanley Cup Champion Hurricanes.

The final game of the regular season will be on April 8th, a match up between the Vancouver Canucks and the Phoenix Coyotes. By the time the Canucks and Coyotes call it a night, 1,230 games will have been played on the way to the Stanley Cup playoffs in April.

The playoffs begin April 11th and could go on until June 11th if all series go their distance.

An interesting note for this season is that after March 23rd all games will be in conference as teams jockey for the playoff spots down the stretch.

Hockey Day in Canada is January 13th this year as all six Canadian teams match up for the annual showcase of all that's holy in Canada.

The entire 1,230 games are listed here, for those wishing to keep track of their favourite squad!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

The World according to Muck

Senators GM John Muckler sat down with the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch to discuss the changing face of the NHL and how the Sens will handle the new dynamics.

From the departing Zdeno Chara and retiring Domenik Hasek to the newest acquisitions, Muckler explains the look of the Sens and how he sees things progressing as they head for training camp in September.

Below the oracles of Muck from the Canoe website!

July 8, 2006
Interview with John Muckler

It was a busy week for Senators GM John Muckler, who signed free agents Martin Gerber and Joe Corvo — along with his own players Jason Spezza and Ray Emery. But Ottawa said goodbye to free agents Zdeno Chara (Boston), Brian Pothier (Washington) and Dominik Hasek (retirement).

Yesterday, Muckler sat down for an exclusive one-on-one interview with Sun hockey writer Bruce Garrioch:

SUN: You have always maintained that with the new system there were going to be changes. Do people have to accept that fact and that you’re going to lose good players?

MUCKLER: It’s not because we want change, it’s because the system is making us change. The system dictates that the players are going to be distributed throughout the league and that’s going to bring parity. That’s what they tell us. It seems to be working because every team seems to be changing players on a yearly basis. And, if you are a team that has as many elite players as we have, it dictates that you can’t keep them all. Who is going to be the beneficiary? Well, it’s going to be the other teams that are able to spend. That’s where the balance comes with other teams. As far as (Chara) is concerned, we didn’t want to get rid of (Chara) or trade him. That was the last thing we wanted to happen. It came down to balancing the cap. If you keep all your elite players at the salaries that they demand, then you have to take people out. This is a team sport and it’s not just for the elite players. Yes, you’ve got to try to keep as many of the elite players as you have. That’s what we want to do. But, in the case of the CBA, that’s impossible.

SUN: Now ...

MUCKLER: Hold on a minute. Now, in talking to (Chara), this negotiation had been going on since last year. We never did get any number from (agent) Matt Keator regarding (Chara). My last meeting, after several meetings during the year, was in Vancouver. He wanted to know what our number was and I said, ‘‘It hasn’t changed. Six million a year for five years.’’ He said if you can’t come off that number, we’re going to unrestricted free agency. Right there we made a decision that we were going to go in another direction if we were turned down. We looked at the numbers and it was impossible to keep this team together and to keep (Chara) on the team. That’s when we had to make a decision.

SUN: Did you feel you were forced into a position where you had to make a choice (between Chara and Wade Redden)?

MUCKLER: No, they made the choice for us. Redden actually would have come in at a lower salary if (Chara) would have stayed. His teammates wanted him here and we wanted him here.
SUN: Is it time to close the door on this one?

MUCKLER: It’s over. We’ve got to go forward. Would we have loved to have (Chara)? Yes. Am I upset ’cause he went to Boston? No. I guess I understand a bit why he went there. So, (Chara) best of luck. Move forward. We’re going to move forward and that’s the new system. We tried and tried and tried. We wanted to keep both guys, but we could only do it at a certain level.

SUN: How does this team improve if you are not able to keep your elite players?

MUCKLER: Everyone can’t take our elite players. It’s a balancing act. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future, but I can see the NHL turning into the NBA as far as signing their elite free agents to multiple millions of dollars. And after that you only have so much left on the cap. It’s eventually going to come down to the fact players are going to have to realize there’s only so much money. That’s the way it’s going to be handled. It’s somewhat similar to that right now. I don’t think the players realize what a difficult time a cap can become. It’s the GM’s job to distribute the money in places where he has to so you can maintain the calibre of team you had in the past.

SUN: Do you think you still have enough elite players that you’re going to be a good team.

MUCKLER: Yes, but the trick is how are you going to be able to keep these guys beyond this year? I would just like to see the message sent for the general public to understand what is happening: I don’t think people understand that cap system dictates change and trades are going to be done in a different manner now. You are not going to see teams receive the compensation that you think they should receive. Sometimes you’re not going to trade players because you want to trade players, it’s because you have to trade players because you can’t afford (their contract) and you have to remove that from your payroll. All those things are going to happen and at the same time you want to keep the best players you can.

SUN: You had pinpointed goaltending at the end of the season. I thought you were going to bring Dominik Hasek back. What changed your opinion on going that route?

MUCKLER: I considered both options. But when I had the opportunity to sign (Martin) Gerber, (bringing back Hasek) was something that came up in the discussions with his agent and in my talks with (Gerber). He wanted to know if we were bringing Hasek back and (Gerber) wants to be the No. 1 guy. I felt to be fair with (Gerber), (telling Hasek the club is going in a different direction) had to happen. I like Gerber. I’m not going to compare him to anybody. I’m just going to let him play because that stuff comes back to haunt you. I think he and Ray Emery will work well together.

SUN: What do you do to replace Chara?

MUCKLER: Well, you don’t replace Zdeno Chara, but you try to do what you can to close the gap. I think what we’re trying to do is build a different type of defence. Corvo gives us another offensive guy who is a right-handed shot and I think what we’re trying to find is another offensive guy. That’s what we’re working on right now. We want guys who are more offensive minded. What we’re going to be looking for next season is more offence from our defence to take some of the pressure off the guys up front to score goals. If you look at the Carolina defence, they were very mobile and they moved the puck up the ice very well. That’s something we didn’t do very well in the playoffs ... especially against Buffalo.

SUN: What about up front? What would you like to do up there?

MUCKLER: There’s not much we can do. We’re pretty well locked in with the guys we have. Once the IIHF and the Russians agree, we’d like to sign (prospect Alexei) Kaigorodov. We’ve already got (Jason) Spezza, (Dany) Heatley, (Daniel) Alfredsson, (Mike) Fisher, (Bryan) Smolinski and (Brian) McGrattan signed for next year. We’re talking to guys like (Peter) Schaefer, (Antoine) Vermette, (Chris) Neil and (Chris) Kelly, and what we’re hoping is we’re able to sign those guys on multiple-year contracts. (Martin) Havlat, I’m not going to comment on. We’ll see what happens there this summer.

SUN: Is your improvement relying on the improvement of your core group of players?

MUCKLER: They have to be better, there is no question about it. I think the makeup of our team will be different than it was before. I don’t think the speed level will go down and, in fact, I’d like to add another defenceman with speed which might make us quicker. We scored the most goals in the NHL last year and I don’t know whether we’ll end up there this year. Everybody has to be a little bit better than we were last year. I like our team and several GMs I have spoken to like our club. I feel we’ve got a lot of talent on this team and we’re going to have a team that competes. We’ve really only lost one guy (in Chara).

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Dan Cloutier Save

Dan Cloutier in action

A fresh start and a fair move

Dan Cloutier has handled his time in Vancouver with nothing but class, and today Dave Nonis repaid that favour, by trading Cloutier within the conference to the Los Angeles Kings.

Normally when you have a high profile player being prepared to move on, you try your hardest to make sure that he’s placed as far as possible (hello Todd Bertuzzi!) from the team he last played for.

But in the case of Dan Cloutier, he’s merely a few hundred miles down the coast and will be a frequent visitor to GM Place in the next few years. Cloutier, who became redundant with the arrival of Roberto Luongo was re-united with his old coach Marc Crawford today, as the Canucks and Kings swung a deal that sends the goaltender off to Hollywood for a couple of draft picks in the years to come.

It ends an awkward phase for the Canucks where they had one pretty high paid back up wondering what the next move would be, even more important it would seem that they managed to do the deal without having to pick up a portion of Cloutier’s salary which seemed like the likely outcome had they not been able to move him over the short term.

In Los Angeles, Cloutier will be the starting goal tender a position that he probably deserves considering his length of service in the NHL and his salary level at the moment. He’ll be a solid addition to the Los Angeles line up and providing Marc Crawford has learned a few lessons and doesn’t over play him in the regular season, Cloutier may finally lead a team on to playoff success.

Despite playing in the graveyard of goaltenders on the west coast, Cloutier never seemed to take the criticisms and frustrations to heart and even made Vancouver his off season home, which must have been an enjoyable thing considering the non stop braying of the Vancouver hockey fan on the sport talk shows.

He handled himself well during his time in Vancouver and one hopes that he finds success and happiness in his new post. With this move and the departure of Jarkko Ruutu to Pittsburgh earlier in the day the exodus from Vancouver continues at its rapid pace, Dave Nonis may not have wanted to blow the team up when he fired Marc Crawford earlier this year, but suddenly this team is changing complexion rather quickly, it will be with interest that Canuck fans view the finished product come training camp.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Life and Hockey go on

Terry Jones does a nice job of putting the Pronger affair into the proper perspective in his daily column for the Edmonton Sun and Canoe.

While admitting that the team that gets the better player normally is given the nod for getting the best of the deal, he credits Kevin Lowe with getting the best he could under some pretty unfair circumstances. His final line is telling and correct, better players have left Edmonton and hockey still is putting on a pretty good show in the Alberta capital.

As a bit of background for the Pronger story, here's the outline of his recent conference call after his trade to the Ducks.

Then read the Jones article which is provided below, it should pretty well bring to an end the angst over Pronger's departure from the Oil City.

July 4, 2006
Get over it! It's not a deal the Oilers wanted, but at least they can move on
TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

It is what it is. And it's over.

Chris Pronger ends up with a far better fate than he deserves.

The Anaheim Ducks become a power with Pronger and Scott Niedermayer, the top two defencemen in the league, playing together.

The Oilers couldn't win or even come close to winning in doing this deal, but Joffrey Lupul is a good young pro player, 20-year-old Czech defenceman Ladislav Smid will play next year and they've loaded up on drafts. Never a deal you'd make under any other circumstances. But GM Kevin Lowe doesn't have to apologize to anybody.

Edmonton doesn't overcome an undeserved self-image hit where it hurts most - in hockey - with this deal. But you've been dealing with that for a couple of weeks already. It is what it is. And now you can get over it.

It's a retro Oilers deal from small-market survival days - give up a great to get a good young pro and a couple birds in the bush.

"You can't help but look at it that way," admitted Lowe on conference call after the deal was done.

The difference is that there's still a hockey team here. A pretty good one.
"Our fans have a really good ability to analyze hockey deals. When we dealt Doug Weight and Bill Guerin we didn't have an Ales Hemsky, Shawn Horcoff, Jarret Stoll and those guys coming into their prime."

At least it won't fester and end up a lose-lose situation for everybody like the Mike Comrie soap opera where it was more about punishing a player than moving on and making the best out of a bad situation.

This is the best of an even worse situation.

Lowe learned his lesson. And this time everybody moves on and moves on in early July not well into the season.

"The last thing we wanted to do is take away the ability of the team to win games early in the season and the distraction.


"We felt that would be bad for the fans - not that it isn't already - and bad for the team," said Lowe.

Lupul, the Fort Saskatchewan native, is 25 and already a first-rate player who very much fits the Oiler mold. And he's from the Heartland of Hockey. That counts for something, too.
There's a good group coming together up front, deep in 20-30 goal scorers and now proven pros and playoff players.

He'll fit in great and as Lowe pointed out, the Oilers haven't had a one-timer type shooter in a long while.

You don't replace Pronger. The old hockey adage is that the team that gets the best player wins the trade. That's certainly the case here and then some.

While you would have expected Edmonton to move to the top of the standings with the success and experience gained in the playoffs if they'd gone forward with Pronger and the nucleus, this doesn't mean they're going to be back missing the playoffs again.

Edmonton and Calgary both made it to Game 7 of the last two Stanley Cup finals. Look at the two line-ups today, and the Oilers look like the better bet to be successful with a whole lot of room in the budget to add missing pieces, the biggest one which will obviously be to find a couple defencemen to replace the 30-minute man they lost.


"We're two defencemen short right now but we now have the best offensive team we've had in a decade," said Lowe.

"We have seven or eight guys who can score a lot of goals and young guys who can contribute. We're a team that's going to compete. We're never going to replace Pronger. But if we can bolster the defence with a trade or through free agency ..."
It is what it is. And it's over.

"I don't know if I've had a more stressful time," said Lowe of coming off the Stanley Cup playoff success only to get hit by this.

"The whole situation is really unfair."

During the past two weeks, there has been so much speculation and so many rumours, some of them pretty personal and damning. But one point should be made today. Chris Pronger didn't cheat anybody in his year in Edmonton.

He gave Edmonton fans a great season and took the Oilers to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final. Give him that. Boo the beejebers out of him when he plays his two games at Rexall Centre next year, but give him that end of it.

That said, he and his wife still owe Edmonton one thing and that's an explanation - despite saying yesterday that it was a "private matter, a personal matter."

It's time for Chris Pronger to stand up and be a man - be a real man and come to Edmonton to do it - and say exactly, or as close to exactly as possible, so you get a very real idea of what happened to so sour a sensational season only hours after it ended.

It's been a sorry story because it took the glow off the greatest playoff year in Edmonton since 1990.

But the City of Champions have seen greater players than Chris Pronger go. The team isn't going to turn terrible. Life and hockey will go on.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Celebrating Freedom Days!

Al Strachan writes an entertaining column for Canoe on the frenzy of free agent signings over this Canada Day/4th of July holiday period.

Pointing out that many Canadians always seem to feel that a national holiday should be called on trading deadline day, such is the interest that Canadians have in the madness of that particular bit of hockey business. Now, suggests Strachan Canadians and Americans finally got their wish as the free agent frenzy pushed most other sports aside for one or two days.

Strachan also handicaps some of the big deals of the last three days for us and offers up a few suggestions on which teams may have been the big winners of the day.

Check it out here.

Pronger ducks out to Anaheim

Chris Pronger’s stay in Edmonton has come to a quick but messy ending, as the now former Oiler joins Brian Burke’s collection of big time players at the Pond. The lynchpin of the Oiler defence and one of the keys to their Stanley Cup drive, had demanded a trade from the Oil city just before the amateur draft one week ago and Kevin Lowe began the wheeling and dealing process that ended today.

Never dealing from strength when a player demands a trade, Lowe still managed to find a decent combination of players and picks that could help take the sting out of love unrequited in the Alberta Capital.

Leaving the Ducks are Edmonton native Joffrey Lupul (his grandparents can finally cheer loudly when he scores!), also heading to the Oilers are defenceman Ladislav Smid, the ninth overall selection in the 2004 draft, plus Anaheim's first-round draft choice in 2007, a conditional first-round pick and a second-round draft choice in 2008.

It’s not long on the present, losing a fixture like Pronger is certainly going to create a hole, but in the long run the Oilers could find this to be a most beneficial trade for their future success.

Lupul is bona fide sniper and should fit in nicely with the Oilers, adding some increased offence to the squad that went to the Stanley Cup final. Smid is a rather unknown quantity just yet, he’s still developing as far as NHL standards go and he will develop under the watchful eye of Craig MacTavish and Charlie Huddy.

Draft picks are always a crap shoot since they are dependant on where your trading partner ends up on the draft board, adding Pronger to the Ducks improves Anaheim quite a bit, so that could knock down a potential placing.

Pronger joins a Duck blue line that already holds down one huge stud in Scott Niedermayer, giving the Ducks a pretty strong tandem holding a solid blue line in Anaheim. Another bold stroke from one of the league’s best GM’s, Brian Burke was rather quiet at the draft table a week ago, but as usual his thunder seems to be loudest when all is said and done!

In the end, Pronger was going to leave anwyays, it was never clearly spelled out why he wanted to leave Edmonton, but the intimations were that it was a non negotiable subject and that Lowe had best get on with the job of moving him. The process which Lowe started last week and consummated today.

For Pronger staying in the West is going to provide for a very interesting bit of road travel, the Ducks will be frequent visitors to Rexall Place in 2006-07, suddenly all the weight is off of Doug Weight’s shoulders, the new villain in town is a Pronger, be prepared for the feedback, and for the folks described as the best sports fans in Canada, the homecoming such as it will be is probably not going to be pretty!

Hockeytown Hails its departing hero

Twenty two years seemed enough, the player who joined a moribund Red Wings (or Dead Wings) franchise as they were called in the day back in 1984, held a news conference today to explain that he would not be pulling on the skates in September.

Steve Yzerman, one of the leagues true greats will take a collection of records and achievements with him, but more importantly he takes the respect and admiration from many of those that played the game with him. From his Red Wing team mates and management on through the league it seems that nobody has a bad thing to say about the guy simply known as Stevie Y.

His presence went beyond the NHL, a long time fixture with Team Canada, he was one of the great leaders who understood the honour of pulling on a jersey with a Maple Leaf on the front and playing for his country. Part of the magical squad of Salt Lake City that brought home the Gold for a hockey mad nation.

Picked fourth in the 1983 draft, Yzerman joined a Red Wing team in dire straits, they had crashed to the bottom of the NHL standings, their attendance woes were legendary, with more than a half empty building greeting the once proud franchise night after night.

Yzerman was not the brash loud athlete of the era, instead he took a much different track as he simply let his playing do the talking. Yzerman was the definition of the word class. He provided a display of leadership that brought the Red Wings back from the dead and onto NHL greatness, the model franchise for those looking at how to run and win with a hockey club.

He benefited from generous ownership with the Ilitch’s and a steady hand in upper management with Jimmy Devellano and Ken Holland. But it was Yzerman’s magic on the ice that truly turned a franchise around. His numbers speak for themselves, 1,514 regular season games, 1,755 points over those twenty two years. Statistics that placed him sixth in all time NHL history.

He was a ten time all league star and multiple award winner. Named captain two years after joining the Red Wings he held the position until today, one of the rare breed of players who stayed with the team that drafted him, providing for the most stable of franchises in the league.

But it was his presence in the Stanley Cup playoffs that made him the toast of the Motor City. Yzerman’s leadership led to three Stanley Cup championships and a constant presence in the Stanley Cup chase year after year. For a city that longed for a return to the NHL heights, his name would soon be mentioned in the same breath as Sawchuk, Howe and Lindsay.

In fact Yzerman received the ultimate compliment from Lindsay, who described Yzerman as great Red Wing, one who while a humble Red Wing, was a leader by example.

That seems like a pretty good way to put a wrap on a most amazing career. Somebody call the Hall of Fame, there's a bust to be made and some space to create, a first ballot arrival is on the way!

Below the tributes flow for one of the greats of the game!

Stevie Y says Goodbye
Stevie Y showed why success, stardom rarely co-exist
Emotional Yzerman steps away
Classy Yzerman helped turn Detroit into Hockeytown
Yzerman belongs on Detroit's Mount Rushmre
Yzerman retires!
Yzerman synonymous with captain title
The Captain's new course
We'll always remember the Captain
Steve Yzerman retires!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

NHL's Saturday Specials

It was a busy first day of free agency for NHL clubs, player agents and moving van consultants as a large pool of NHL talent changed uniforms.

Here from the NHL head office is a comprehensive report on Day 1 of the free agency sweepstakes.

Changes continue in Vancouver

The line up in Vancouver is going to seem quite a bit different when opening night comes around this season.

The Vancouver Canucks had one of their key defencemen depart for the desert, as Ed Jovanovski became the latest to leave Vancouver, gladly accepting Wayne Gretzky’s offer of 32 and a half million dollars over five years of service in the land of the Coyote.

It’s another change in the Vancouver line up that will see the Nonis era Canucnks look significantly different than the core group that Brian Burke put together in his time in Vancouver.

To try to fill in the huge hole created by the Jovanovski departure the Canucks picked up the services of Willie Mitchell for four years at fourteen million dollars. His arrival will showcase a marked difference in styles on the blue line this season, more know for his stay at home ways, Mitchell won’t be leading the charge as Jovanovski did through his years in Vancouver. On the plus side for Vancouver, the goals against should drop when Mitchell is on the ice, an effective defenceman he can be nasty in front of his own net if required which will be of comfort to newly acquired goaltender Roberto Luongo.

The Coyotes made a bold statement that they will be a more serious contender this year with their acquisition of Jovanovski, who says he is excited at the opportunity to play in Arizona and to play for Wayne Gretzky.

The thinking prior to the free agent sweeps was that Jovanovski was heading back to Florida to join up with Mike Keenan’s Florida Panthers, but he instead chose the desert sun over the Florida one.

Leaving Vancouver to determine how the Canucks are going to look and more importantly perform as the old familiar faces head off to newer locales and chances for glory.

Dom’s done, Zed’s a B, changing times in Ottawa.

The free agency sweepstakes took a hunk out of the Ottawa Senators on Saturday, losing a lynchpin of the defence and picking up yet another goaltender for the fickle Senator fans to obsess about until training camp gets underway.

The Dominator is no more in Ottawa, the Sens cut the enigmatic Domenic Hasek loose on Saturday, ending the great John Muckler experiment that went sideways as yet another playoff season ended in disappointment. Perhaps a sign that Brian Murray won a key battle over personnel in the Senators Front Office, as Murray had suggested at the end of the Sens brief playoff appearance that perhaps the Sens should go in a different direction in their goaltending. That direction apparently to be Martin Gerber, recently of the Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes and Peter Laviolette doghouse. Gerber put his name on the dotted line for three years and 11.1 million dollars. Muckler believes that Gerber will be a stabilizing force for the Sens as he and Ray Emery hold down the fort in the back end of the rink.

And in that end, it seems that in the end, it was the lure of big money took Zdeno Chara away from Ottawa. However, to the surprise of many, the big man of the D ended up with the B’s. The last rumour before the free agency clock struck midnight was that the New York Rangers was looking to lure the Senator to their team of wandering Europeans. But instead it was the Bruin’s who stepped up and opened up the wallet bringing Chara to beantown for 37.5 million over five years.

Chara will join former Senator executive Peter Chiarelli in Boston, Chiarelli the new Bruin GM will officially take over (he he, nice bit of theatre that must be) the Bruins in two weeks (under a league ruling he was not be involved with any negotiations with Senator players until July 15th, so if he was true to the ruling then assistant GM Jeff Gorton must be in total simpatico with his new boss, and hey what a welcome to the club present for Chiarelli), but when he does he will have arrived to a job that suddenly has a lot of upside to it, holding one the most desired defenceman in its stable of employees. The Bruins and Sens match up eight times in 2006-07, lots of time for Chiarelli and Chara to remind the Senator faithful of the changing tides in hockey.

Brian Pothier also left the Sens behind this free agency Saturday, taking his defensive game on to new challenges with the Capitals. To fill in the depth chart at defence, Muckler picked up Joe Corvo off the Los Angeles Kings for four years at 10.1 million.

The Sens on Friday secured one key ingredient to their defensive machine, as they signed Wade Redden to a new contract, Redden showed some of the leadership he’s been known for of late with his offer to make less money if the Sens could also secure the services of Chara, as events played out Chara wasn’t quite as inclined to keep that old gang in Ottawa complete and took the pile of cash behind the Bruin’s door.

John Muckler now has a fair amount of cash left over to work with, so expect him to find a few more parts to his on ice puzzle. But make no mistake, there is a rather large piece now permanently missing and it will take a fair amount of work to push a new piece into the space that just became vacant.

Headlines of July

With free agency under way many teams will be making some key changes to their line up in the off season, we track the developments in our headlines for July.

July 17 Peca becomes a Bud
July 16 Lindros set to join Stars
July 13 Habscheid leaves Hockey Canada
July 12 Habs awaken from slumber
July 11 Sutter stepping down as coach
July 10 Canucks ink Chouinard
July 8 Shanny broadway bound
July 7 When the phone doesn't ring
July 6 Havlat heading out the door?
July 5 Cloutier is fit to be a King
July 4 It's back to the desert for JR
July 3 It's bye bye for Stevie Y
July 2 Weight returns to the Blues
July 1 Bruins dive deep into Free Agency