Sunday roundup: 2009-10 Euro openers in jeopardy; Nylander staying in D.C.?

December, 28, 2008
You may remember we recently talked about next season's plans for the NHL to have six teams open the regular season in Europe.

It may still happen, but we are told the Premiere Games in Europe are hanging in the balance.

We won't bother you with all the details, but essentially the NHL and NHL Players' Association are in a heated battle over collective bargaining agreement issues (revenue-related), governing the games in Europe and the next World Cup of Hockey (which should make a return in 2011).

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA executive director Paul Kelly are slated to hash it out face-to-face in the next seven to 10 days in what one source called a "critical, critical meeting."

And elsewhere ...

  • Caps center Michael Nylander has been on the trade block almost all season, but word out of Washington is that suddenly the team isn't quite as keen to move him. He still could very well be moved before the March 4 trade deadline, but the sense is that Caps GM George McPhee isn't as sold on it as he was before. A big reason is that the Caps are playing so well, so why mess with a good thing? Caps coach Bruce Boudreau met with Nylander recently to let him know as much. Not by coincidence, Nylander has played a lot better since then. Despite all that, we still think if a team were to call with the right offer, the Caps would listen.

  • There's chatter around the league that Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke has been kicking tires on backup goalies. Does that mean the end of veteran Curtis Joseph in Toronto? He's one of the classiest guys in the game, but it's obvious he has struggled this season.

  • The Minnesota Wild caused quite a stir in their market when they announced star winger Marian Gaborik would not dress for a game or two, as the team wanted to make sure it is cautious in his return from a lower-body injury. We say it's smart on the Wild's part. It's critical to make sure he returns to full health by the time March 4 rolls around.

  • The Los Angeles Kings seem to be turning a corner this season with their rebuilding efforts, and we wouldn't be surprised if they were to make a major splash July 1 to bolster their youthful core. Marian Hossa, anyone?

  • The NHL's 30 GMs have their annual two-day meeting in March, and the optics won't be great given the state of the economy -- they are gathering in a posh hotel in Naples, Fla. We are told the league tried in vain to move the meeting to Toronto, Detroit or New York but was told by the Naples hotel it would keep the deposit and expected the league to honor the contract it signed with the resort in August. We bet next year's meeting won't be there if the economy still hasn't recovered.

  • As you may have noticed, there haven't been many trades in the NHL this season, which has pretty much been the case every season since the lockout. (Teams wait until closer to the trade deadline because of the salary-cap system.) But this season, you also can add the element of the weakened economy. Most owners are warning their GMs not to add salary.

    To that end, Burke intends to revive a proposal he has brought to the forefront a few times since the lockout -- changing the rules so teams can retain some salary in trades. It has been shot down by the league every time, but Burke will table it again at the GM meetings. He believes that if teams could retain some amount of salary in trades, more deals would be done. And more trades mean more fan interest. The league doesn't like the idea of "dead money" in the system.

  • Speaking of Burke, here's another idea he has: The NHL should institute an award for GM of the year.

    "We would call it the Sam Pollock Award," said Burke, referring to the legendary Montreal GM of yesteryear. "There's a whole bunch of player awards and there's a coach of the year award, but none for GMs. Ken Holland should have been recognized last year with this type of award. I just want to know why there isn't one. I intend to push this at the GMs meeting."

  • Pierre LeBrun

    ESPN Senior Writer




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