There's been much speculation about the future of Marc-Andre Fleury in Pittsburgh, if for no other reason than the goaltender is playing the final year of his contract and wasn’t extended this past summer.
But people shouldn't read into that, Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said Tuesday. He doesn’t believe Fleury is going anywhere.
"As long as I'm GM here, he's my goalie," Rutherford told ESPN.com. "My plan is to re-sign him when the time is right. When that is, I don’t know, if it’s during the year or after the year, but I do want to re-sign him. I believe in him."
BOYCHUCK FITTING IN LONG ISLAND
Newly acquired blueliner Johnny Boychuk has looked dynamite in a New York Islanders uniform and he’s been a big hit in the room, too, a source saying Tuesday he’s already become a big leader for the team.
That won’t surprise anybody who knew him with the Boston Bruins, where he was a very popular player in the room but became a salary-cap victim on the eve of the NHL season.
He’s eligible to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, but you can expect the Isles to put on a full-court press to try and re-sign him. Talks haven’t begun yet, as the Isles want Boychuk to settle into his new digs on Long Island, but at some point this season and probably in the not-too-distant future, the Isles will approach Boychuk’s camp with, my guess is, a pretty serious offer.
Speaking of those two second-round picks the Bruins got for Boychuk, those could come in handy before the March trade deadline if Boston makes a move or two.
The Bruins most likely will try to add a top-six winger and it’s believed that among the wingers of interest to Boston is Chris Stewart of the Buffalo Sabres, a pending UFA whom Buffalo will most likely move. Now, whether or not the Sabres would move him to a rival within the division remains to be seen. Although, the Sabres have had discussions over the past few months with divisional foe Detroit regarding defenseman Tyler Myers. So who knows, maybe the Sabres don't care.
WORLD CUP UPDATE
The NHL and NHL Players’ Association met again last week to further the agenda on the World Cup of Hockey.
It’s still not exactly clear just when both sides will be ready to finalize plans and make an announcement.
However, one decision seems to have been made. A source told ESPN.com that while the Montreal Canadiens were pushing hard to host some games along with main host Toronto, it sounds like the Maple Leafs will host the entire tournament.
That’s really been the vision from the beginning from NHL executive John Collins, who wants to make the return of the World Cup a huge, one-city event to create more buzz.
One of the reasons that the two sides have delayed any kind of announcement is that there is a desire to be able to commit to more than one year for this tournament and to detail the long-term commitment for the event, which hasn’t been played since 2004.
TEAM CANADA BOSS
There was much debate during the Steve Yzerman-Martin St. Louis controversy last season whether it was smart for an Olympic team GM to also hold the same job with an NHL club.
There were some who wondered if it wasn’t a more prudent road to go down moving forward, at least in Canada where the roster choices are the most difficult, to have someone run the team who wasn’t an NHL GM so as to avoid the awkward, emotional situation where St. Louis reacted with such disappointment and anger at Yzerman not selecting him the first time around for the Sochi roster. (St. Louis eventually made the team as the injury replacement for Steven Stamkos, but the damage was done as he asked for a trade out of Tampa.)
But new Hockey Canada president Tom Renney doesn’t believe a change is needed in that regard.
If NHL players return for another Olympics, a decision that remains undecided, Renney told ESPN.com on Tuesday that he most likely will lean on an NHL GM once again.
"Yes, I think that would be the case," said Renney, who replaced Bob Nicholson as Hockey Canada president over the past summer.
Renney will need to find a new man for the job, Yzerman stepping down after leading Canada to back-to-back Olympic gold medals.
What’s not clear is whether Mike Babcock would return for a third straight Olympics as head coach. Renney, who was Babcock’s associate coach in Detroit the past few years before leaving for the Hockey Canada job, said the new Team Canada GM would have a big say in the coaching staff.
As for Babcock, reached via text about a third straight Olympics, the Red Wings coach responded: "You have to earn the right."
Which wasn’t a yes or a no, but then again, he’s got a lot on his plate these days when it comes to future career decisions.
The bloom is off the rose in Winnipeg, where fans aren’t thrilled with a slow start to the season.
The novelty is gone for Winnipeg fans in their fourth season back in the NHL. The passionate fans of Winnipeg want playoff hockey.
It’s way too early to overreact to losing four of their opening five games, but then again, playing in the NHL’s toughest division, the Central, there isn’t too much rope there in terms of digging an early hole.
But ever since moving to Winnipeg, it’s been about the long game for Jets management and ownership, embracing a patient draft-and-develop model that is going to take time to bear fruit.
GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has a long-term deal and I believe he’s got full backing from ownership to stick with the plan.
There are only so many options at his disposal when you consider how bare the cupboard was when he inherited the Atlanta Thrashers roster, so restocking that fully takes time; plus throw in the Jets having the 25th-ranked payroll right now and it’s a reminder that, unlike some of their Canadian cousins, they’re not going to easily speed up the process by throwing money at it.
To be fair, the Jets did try to get in on the Paul Stastny UFA sweepstakes in late June, but it was clear early on that it would be St. Louis or Colorado for the center, who ended up signing with the Blues.
And sure, I’m guessing the Jets would have taken a stab at trading for Jason Spezza had he not indicated a desire to leave his home country.
The point being, the Jets’ current course is their only realistic option: drafting and developing homegrown talent. It’s just not happening as fast as the fans want.