1. The San Jose Sharks: What began as a bizarre, dithering summer for San Jose -- GM Doug Wilson did little in free agency following the team's devastating playoff exit but started throwing around the term "rebuild" -- ended with the type of announcement that solidified the Sharks' spot as the most salacious soap opera to watch this season. Fed up with the team's shortcomings -- coughing up a 3-0 series lead in the Western Conference quarterfinals and losing in seven games to the Los Angeles Kings -- both Wilson and coach Todd McLellan seemed unhappy with the club's longtime leadership group, headlined by veteran captain Joe Thornton and alternate captain Patrick Marleau.
Before training camp began, the team announced that both players were stripped of their designations. Whether the move was designed to motivate Thornton and Marleau to earn their letters back, or whether the intent all along has been to pass the torch to younger Sharks Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski, it appeared the type of hollow, knee-jerk reaction the team could do without. Combine that with what nearly turned into a bitter divorce last season -- the team reportedly shopping Thornton, who was unwilling to waive his no-move clause -- and this could go very quickly from an awkward situation to a truly toxic one.
2. Ryan Johansen's holdout: A sign things have taken a sharp turn from bad to worse: a team president publicly disclosing previously extended, and subsequently spurned, contract offers to its star player. That is precisely what happened in Columbus during training camp. With restricted free agent Johansen still unsigned, Blue Jackets president John Davidson was absolutely fuming at Johansen's agent, Kurt Overhardt, whom he accused of "extortion" during a particularly colorful news conference. Despite the vitriol spewed in recent weeks, the two sides are still talking, with Johansen's camp reportedly yielding on its initial asking price. And Overhardt told ESPN.com that, despite several offers from the KHL and other leagues, his main focus is to get a deal done with the Blue Jackets.
With the contentious nature of these contract talks, it's possible the protracted contract negotiations could grow even nastier should Johansen miss significant time -- a bad thing for everyone involved. Johansen is already holding out of training camp. How would missing valuable ice time affect the impact he's able to have once he starts playing?
3. Camp without Captain Giroux: We all saw the cost of the Philadelphia Flyers' atrocious start last season, which led to the dismissal of head coach Peter Laviolette just three games into the schedule. No one seemed to take the team's struggles harder than team captain Claude Giroux, who went the first 15 games without a goal, though a terrific second-half surge allowed him to finish third in the league with 86 points and earn a Hart Trophy nomination. Giroux bounced back in a big way, but that doesn't mean he wants to use last season as a blueprint for success.
Rather, he and teammate Wayne Simmonds told ESPN.com last month that getting off to a great start is imperative, which is why Giroux's training camp injury could become a giant concern. The 26-year-old Hearst, Ontario, native left the ice just 15 minutes into his first official on-ice session with the team after sustaining a lower-body injury and didn't return to game action until Tuesday. That doesn't sound like he missed much time, but it could turn into something much more significant if history repeats itself.
4. Minnesota's goaltending carousel: The Minnesota Wild's crease is a cause for concern before the season has even started. First, you have incumbent Josh Harding, who started last season spectacularly before being sidelined by complications arising from multiple sclerosis. Then, you have veteran backup Nicklas Backstrom, who played 21 games last season but was hindered by injury and forced to undergo offseason surgery. Enter Darcy Kuemper, who appeared to be the odd man out. The 24-year-old was seeking a one-way deal from the Wild, but the team didn't seem sold on the idea. Then, just before camp began, the team announces Harding suffered a broken foot -- in a nebulous, off-ice incident for which he was suspended, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, after the team investigated -- that rules him out indefinitely.
In scramble mode, the Wild inked Kuemper to a two-year deal and rang up old friend Ilya Bryzgalov to join the fold. As if things were not complicated enough, right? The zany Bryzgalov, who played 12 games for the Wild last season, joined the team on a training camp tryout. If the team's goaltending picture looked murky before, it looks even more muddled now.
5. Turmoil in Toronto: Star player Phil Kessel and Toronto Maple Leafs assistant coach Steve Spott have already been forced to defuse a controversy stemming from an alleged conversation between the two this summer. The Toronto Star reported Spott told coaches at a clinic that Kessel disliked the team's breakout strategy, and Kessel denied ever having such a conversation in the first place. Considering how many people are baffled that Randy Carlyle was not given the boot following last season's dreadful tailspin, rumors of rifts between players and coaches are the last thing the Leafs need as they look to turn the page.