THEY SAID IT
“I really believe that we’re going to make it. It would be selfish to even think about other options right now.”
The Anaheim Ducks’ veteran splashes cold water on the notion that he would approve a trade before the deadline. Sorry Winnipeg. Sorry Detroit.
“It could have been worse. Very little muscle damage and nothing wrong with the tendon. I can still move my leg and things like that.”
The Calgary Flames’ defenceman becomes the latest player to be sliced open by a skate – in this case belonging to teammate Miikka Kiprusoff – an injury that will sideline him three weeks or more.
BY THE NUMBERS
Of their previous 17 games, the number of times the Boston Bruins were tied or trailing after 40 minutes. All that playing from behind has cooled off the Stanley Cup defending champions, the NHL’s hottest team for a two-month stretch in November and December.
Goals for the Phoenix Coyotes’ Radim Vrbata, tying him for third in the NHL goal-scoring race. Four of the past six were game winners and 19 of 30 were scored on the road. If not for goalie Mike Smith, Vrbata would be MVP of a Coyotes team pushing for first place in the tight Pacific Division.
Tweet of the week
Reunited and it feels so good. … Excited to be back playing with carts #needaroommate @MRichie_10
Channelling Peaches & Herb, the Kings’ centre welcomes his former teammate, Jeff Carter, aboard.
AROUND THE RINKS
Why Downie is in Denver
At 24, former Canadian world junior star Steve Downie is no longer the out-of-control wild child who spent so much time getting suspended early in his career that even the Philadelphia Flyers, his original team (and no strangers to the notion of mayhem), gave up on him years ago. Downie is now on his third team, traded by the Tampa Bay Lightning to Colorado for Kyle Quincey. Downie started his Avalanche career on a line with two of their top youngsters, Ryan O’Reilly and Gabriel Landeskog. The Avalanche have been considered soft up front since trading away Chris Stewart last year. The undersize Downie, one of the NHL’s most notorious rats, to use a Brian Burke term, is supposed to remedy that situation, and perhaps make either Daniel Winnik or T.J. Galiardi expendable. Tampa flipped Quincey to Detroit. Why? The Avalanche needed a middle man in the deal because they didn’t have a first-round choice of their own to trade to Tampa – it belongs to the Washington Capitals, part of the price Colorado surrendered to acquire goaltender Semyon Varlamov last summer.
How Vermette helps Dogs
Phoenix’s acquisition of former Ottawa Senator Antoine Vermette solidified the weakest part of the Coyotes’ roster, their centre-ice corps, which was thinned by the departures of Eric Belanger and Vernon Fiddler last off-season. This is what Coyotes GM Don Maloney does best – let someone else pay the salary freight for most of the season on a payroll-restricted team, then get the player in time for the stretch drive and playoff push. Vermette is signed for three years beyond this one at a cap hit of $3.75-million (U.S.), which will be a bargain if he proves his 65-point season was not an aberration. Traditionally, on defensively secure Dave Tippett-coached teams, 65 points lands you near, or at the top of, the team scoring charts. Vermette isn’t going to crack the top line of Martin Hanzal, Radim Vrbata and Ray Whitney, but he fits nicely on the second line, and playing with heart-and-soul winger Shane Doan is no hardship. The Coyotes hope Vermette can do for them what Mike Fisher did for Nashville last year – provide depth and versatility. Vermette can play wing if needed, kill penalties and, most important, replace Belanger’s prowess in the faceoff circle.
Why ’Canes signed Ruutu
Twice this month, the Hurricanes reversed a long-standing policy against signing players to in-season contract extensions. Carolina did this to get two pending unrestricted free agents, defenceman Tim Gleason and forward Tuomo Ruutu, under contract. Gleason is a stay-at-home defenceman, Ruutu a skilled, agitating forward, but they share one important characteristic: Both are at or near their playing primes and would be difficult to replace through free agency. Ruutu had 17 goals to lead the team before he was injured. He took a pay cut to play next year – $4-million, down from the $4.4-million he earns this year, before he gets bumped up to three years at $5-million per. There was the usual talk that Ruutu could have received more if he’d tested free agency in July. Maybe. The labour landscape could look vastly different after a new collective agreement is reached. If the players’ percentage of overall revenue shrinks from the 57 per cent in the current agreement, teams may not be spreading around those Ville Leino-style deals next summer. Presumably that uncertainty was also a factor in Ruutu’s decision to stay on.