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February 14, 2016
NHL News and Notes
by Michael Menser Dell, Editor-in-Chief
SENATORS FIND A CENTER
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.
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.
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.
In a related story, for all NHL telecasts, Verizon will be changing their motto from "Can you hear me now?" to "Is anyone watching?"
Oh, and before I forget, (sunshine) Detroit!
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?