LCS Hockey: Born Again
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April 22, 2018
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NHL News and Notes

Only a few hours after I wrote that piece on Phoenix yesterday, the Coyotes traded Mike Comrie to Ottawa for Alexei Kaigorodov.

Comrie told the team he intended to test the free agent market this summer, because, as we all know, diminutive centers with brittle bones are always in high demand. But Comrie was pulling down $3 million this season, so the Coyotes were looking to dump his salary. They finally found a willing dance partner in the Senators, who were limping along without their top two centers, Jason Spezza and Mike Fisher.

It's a sweet deal for Comrie. He goes from virtual obscurity in the desert to the heat of a playoff race in the Canadian capital. Comrie made his Senator debut Wednesday night in Ottawa's 6-3 win over Buffalo, recording two assists in 18:16 of ice time while centering a line with Peter Schaefer and Chris Neil.

Still, Senator fans should temper their enthusiasm. Comrie is real slick and can put up some points, but he's Mike Comrie for a reason. It's not like he's the missing piece to their Stanley Cup puzzle. That said, he is a decent No. 2 scoring center, and the Sens gave up absolutely nothing to get him.

If you recall, there was a lot of hype about Alexei Kaigorodov in the Canadian press prior to training camp, with many saying the 2002 second-round draft pick would emerge as the club's No. 2 center. Well, good ol' Special K was a complete flop. Even the Senator brass seemed somewhat shocked at how ill-prepared he was for the NHL. Kaigorodov compounded the problem by refusing assignment to the AHL and returning to Russia, forcing the Senators to suspend him without pay. Phoenix won't have to pay him either until he returns to the NHL. Sadly, the Coyotes have to keep paying Jeremy Roenick. Sometimes life isn't fair.

Kaigorodov is playing in Russia with fellow Phoenix prospect Enver Lisin. For those of you who don't know Lisin, he's quick like a bunny. Unfortunately, he plays defense like one too. Lisin was minus-18 this season in just 17 games with the Coyotes. That's hard to do. He picked up fewer guys than Mother Teresa. If Kaigorodov and Lisin learn to backcheck, well, it'll be a miracle, but they could also form a potent scoring duo next season for the... I'm sorry, I couldn't finish that last sentence without breaking into hysterical laughter.

Steve Reinprecht, who's been out with a broken collarbone since October, will return to action this week, replacing Comrie in the Phoenix lineup.

Before landing Comrie, the Senators were rumored to be interested in claiming Petr Nedved off waivers from Philadelphia. But Kevin Lowe beat the Sens to it, bringing Nedved back for a second tour of duty with the Oilers. It's kind of sad, really. Usually when people lose bets they just have to pay money or maybe run around the block naked or something, but acquiring Nedved? Lowe must hang around with a tough crowd.

Nedved is so done. He had one goal and seven points in 21 games with the Flyers this season. But here's the best part, he was minus-20. He makes Lisin look like Bob Gainey. Nedved has never met a lazy penalty he wouldn't take. He hooks more than Heidi Fleiss. How bad does your team have to suck before you say, "Hmm, I think Petr Nedved can help us"?

But seriously, if you're a center in the Edmonton organization, and the Oilers would rather bring in Nedved than give you a shot, it might be time to consider a new line of work. I hear there's good money in plastics.

Mario Lemieux spent Wednesday in Kansas City meeting with representatives of the brand spanking new Sprint Center. Apparently, no city or state officials were in attendance, which seems kind of odd. It doesn't sound like they exactly rolled out the red carpet to woo Mario.

The Sprint Center should be ready to open in time for the 2007-08 NHL season and seats over 18,000. All 72 luxury suites have already been sold. In way of comparison, Pittsburgh's Mellon Arena has 56 luxury suites, and some of them are almost completely free of asbestos.

Lemieux is still scheduled to meet with Pennsylvania officials Thursday afternoon to discuss the infamous "Plan B." So I'm sure the timing of the Kansas City trip wasn't an accident. It's all about leverage. And right now Mario's got more leverage than Archimedes.

The NHL, the NHLPA, and Verizon Wireless have agreed to a new multi-year deal, giving Verizon, and I quote, "exclusive marketing and promotional rights as the 'Official Wireless Service Provider' in the United States, and category-exclusive U.S. marketing rights for marquee NHL events including the NHL All-Star Game, Stanley Cup Playoffs, NHL Awards Show, and NHL Entry Draft."

In a related story, for all NHL telecasts, Verizon will be changing their motto from "Can you hear me now?" to "Is anyone watching?"

The NHL is teaming up with Garth Brooks to help kids. During select home games from January 4 through January 13, all players on each and every NHL team will wear sweaters featuring a special "Garth Brooks Teammates for Kids Foundation" commemorative patch. The jerseys will then be signed and auctioned off for charity. No word yet on what the patches will look like, but I'm guessing they'll be much more popular than the "Chris Gaines Teammates for Kids Foundation" patches, which are shaped like a really bad idea.

Steve Yzerman had his No. 19 retired the other night in Detroit. I hate the Red Wings, but I always liked Stevie Y. If you missed it, has Yzerman's retirement ceremony and the banner raising. Sports Illustrated also has a swell Yzerman photo gallery.

Oh, and before I forget, (sunshine) Detroit!

Kari Lehtonen has signed a deal with AirTran Airways. Lethonen will make public appearances, cut radio promos, and be featured on billboards to publicize the discount air carrier.

But rival Delta Air Lines has exclusive marketing deals with all the Atlanta professional sports teams, so Lehtonen won't be able to wear his uniform or even sport the Thrasher team colors. In a compromise, Lethonen will be allowed to wear a Philadelphia Flyers jersey since no one could possibly confuse the Flyers with a professional sports team.

And don't forget to purchase your copy of my book, "Honest John Churchfield." C'mon, somebody has to! Please?

LCS Hockey: Born Again
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