Enough already with the Bruce Boudreau speculation. The Washington Capitals coach is not going to get fired for his team's first-round upset loss to Montreal.
"There's no chance that it would happen," Caps GM George McPhee told ESPN.com on Saturday. "We have a great relationship, he's a good coach and he's the right guy for this team."
I don't think the GM could have been any clearer. The coach is not going anywhere.
Eyebrows were raised this week, however, by a post in Caps owner Ted Leonsis' blog. This particular passage sent tongues wagging around the hockey world:
"[The Habs] played committed team defense. They took our stars out of play all series. I believe our hockey IQ seemed low this series and we didn't adjust well on the ice to the new schemes coming our way."
Immediately, people thought Leonsis was throwing Boudreau under the bus. Not so, the Caps owner told ESPN.com in an e-mail Saturday.
"You read too much into my blog posts, we lost for a million reasons, not because of our coach," Leonsis wrote in response to my e-mail query.
The owner believes in his team.
"If it doesn't kill you, it will make you stronger," Leonsis said in another e-mail to me.
The feeling in Washington is there will be tweaks, yes, but this team will not be blown up.
KHL and NHL thawing?There had been reports over the past few weeks about possible exhibition games between KHL and NHL teams next September. Both leagues still haven't officially signed off, but there's been enough progress in talks over the past week or so to tell you this much: The KHL club in Riga, Latvia, will likely host the Phoenix Coyotes, while the KHL team in St. Petersburg, Russia, will host the Carolina Hurricanes. The Coyotes and Hurricanes are part of the six NHL teams opening the 2010-11 campaign overseas next season.
The two exhibition games are in response to the suddenly warming relations between the KHL and NHL, something I wrote about during the Winter Olympics after KHL president Alexander Medvedev and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman met in Vancouver and had what both deemed a breakthrough session.
The KHL and NHL have had a rocky relationship, but it appears the thawing-out process is well under way. A source told ESPN.com on Saturday both leagues are on the verge of signing a memorandum of understanding that would help avoid conflict in the areas of signed contracts and are already exchanging detailed information on respective player contracts in each league. That is nothing but good news. The bickering between both leagues wasn't helping anyone.
Yzerman's futureWill he stay or will he go?
Hockey Hall of Famer Steve Yzerman told us earlier this season he was ready to be an NHL GM and the suitors began to surface this week when TSN of Canada's Darren Dreger reported Yzerman was among a group of names on the list for the vacant GM job in Tampa.
Yzerman refused to comment on the Tampa situation, but the Red Wings vice president did say this regarding his future:
"I'm very lucky and happy to have a position with the Red Wings," Yzerman told ESPN.com. "I would love to run a team one day and realize I will have to leave here to do that. But the situation has to be right, for me and my family. Believe it or not, being a part of this organization and living in Detroit is something I cherish."[But] if the right opportunity presents itself, I would definitely consider it."
Does the Tampa situation fit his criteria as the "right opportunity"? Again, Yzerman would not comment Saturday.
Meanwhile, Wings GM Ken Holland and assistant GM Jim Nill are both on the verge of firming up multiyear contract extensions. Their current deals run through next season. It's a no-brainer; Holland and Nill are the best 1-2 punch in the NHL, for my money. But it also ties in to Yzerman because it would stress the fact he really does have to leave town to get his own GM job. Fact is, Yzerman knew that all along and never once considered the Wings GM job a possibility.
Modano updateFuture Hockey Hall of Famer Mike Modano has not yet decided on his playing future.
"Not yet," Modano, 39, told ESPN.com via text message Saturday. "I think I'm gonna wait until after the free-agent market opens, see what happens there, and also with the ownership idea."
Ah, yes ... the ownership idea. Modano is part of a prospective ownership group, along with former Stars president Jim Lites and local businessman Billy Quinn, one of the managing partners of Natural Gas Partners. Lites and Quinn already met with Bettman, Modano told ESPN.com.
Of course, Modano can't return to the ice if he's a part-owner. So should he decide to return to play another season and his group does indeed end up being the winning party to buy the team from Tom Hicks, he'd likely have to delay any official ownership stake until after he retires.
"Exactly," texted Modano.
Another important factor to remember is there are other interested suitors for the Stars, including Calgary oil magnate Bill Gallacher.
Coaching searchesManitoba Moose coach Scott Arniel is a popular guy. A few days after the Columbus Dispatch reported the Blue Jackets received permission to interview Arniel, a source told ESPN.com on Saturday the Atlanta Thrashers have also sought and received permission from the Vancouver Canucks to talk with the Moose coach.
Both the Thrashers and Jackets will interview several candidates, and another name on both teams' lists is Hamilton Bulldogs coach Guy Boucher, the AHL's coach of the year. He's still coaching in the AHL playoffs, so the Jackets and Thrashers must wait until he's done before approaching the Montreal Canadiens about talking to him.
John Torchetti is another possibility for Atlanta, as is Boston Bruins assistant coach Craig Ramsay, among others.
As for Columbus, aside from Arniel, the Dispatch lists the other candidates as being Portland AHL coach Kevin Dineen, Nashville Predators assistant coach Brent Peterson, Detroit Red Wings assistant coach Paul MacLean and Jackets interim coach Claude Noel.
I was told Saturday the Jackets would be interviewing two candidates by the end of the weekend and 3-4 more by the end of this upcoming week.
NHL GMs awardThe first annual General Manager Award will indeed see the light of day this year. You may remember this was Brian Burke's idea a few years back and, finally, after careful vetting at the proper levels, the award is a go, a source told ESPN.com Saturday. Always made sense to me; if there's a Jack Adams Award for coach of the year, why not a GM Award?
All 30 GMs had a ballot sent to them over the past week. It's not clear at this point, but other people may also vote on it. What's also not clear is when the award will be presented, whether it'll be with the other awards in Las Vegas on June 23 or at a separate function.
But one thing's for sure: There will be a GM Award for this season. Another award for our ESPN.com readers to argue about!