Hockey Hearsay compiles stories from around the hockey world and runs weekdays, 12 months a year.
WILD’S YEO SEES BIG YEAR FOR HEATLEY
A number of gems came via the Minneapolis Star Tribune from Wild coach Mike Yeo headed into training camp, including an answer to the question of whether or not Dany Heatley will get top-line action again.
Yeo: “Some of the best hockey that that line [with Parise and Koivu] played, Heater was on the line. Those guys were putting up points. A big reason why we switched it is we needed to balance things out. We were getting scoring from that line and nobody else. I would be awfully surprised if you didn’t see them together at some point this year. For Dany, it’s a big year for him (contract year), and I know that he’s really motivated and I want to put him in a spot where he can be successful because I think he’s going to have a good year. I really do. He’s been working hard this summer and we missed him big time last year. When he got hurt, his size and scoring ability and his hands — those are all things we were lacking. We have to make sure he’s playing with guys that can help get him the puck and put him in position where he can score goals.”
SIELOFF SOAKS UP FLAMES’ ATMOSPHERE
The Calgary Sun recounts how Flames prospect Patrick Sieloff suffered a groin injury that ended his first season with the Ontario Hockey League’s Windsor Spitfires a bit ahead of schedule, but the hard-hitting blueliner benefited big-time from hanging around the Saddledome for medical treatment.
“While I was here, I think they had like seven home games, so it worked out really well,” Sieloff said. “When I was around the guys when I was hurt, I got to see how they work and the way do things. It helped me realize, from a maturity level, where I need to be at, and from a physical level, too — how these guys look, and how they play the game. I took that to heart when I was here, and I embraced it all, and I just took it with me.”
Fast-forward a few months, and Sieloff doesn’t just want to be around the guys. He wants to be one of the guys.
“Some of the guys, they took me out to dinner and just told me what it’s all about and told me what the expectations are here,” Sieloff said. “It helped me a lot. I feel like I wouldn’t be confident with the way I’m doing things now if it wasn’t for that, just because they helped me through it.”
DAVIDSON ON JACKETS: WE EXPECT TO COMPETE
The Columbus Dispatch describes how with training camp approaching, the Blue Jackets begin their quest to prove that their 19-5-5 finish last spring was not an aberration but the dawn of an era.
“We have a group that, when we walk into our building or any other building, we should have our heads held high and our chests popped out,” president of hockey operations John Davidson said. “We know we’re a good hockey club.
“We went into last season not knowing where the heck this thing was going to go. Were we going to pick No. 1 overall? Maybe No. 3? Well, we weren’t even close to being on that end of it. We almost made the playoffs.
“And now, with the summers our guys have had — we’ve watched that very closely — we expect to compete.”
WINGS’ WEISS, FRANZEN UNDER THE RADAR?
The Detroit Free Press points out Stephen Weiss appealed to the Red Wings because he’s a natural center, and the Wings badly wanted one with the skill to anchor the second line, in turn enabling them to play Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg together. Coach Mike Babcock already has Weiss paired with winger Johan Franzen, with the other winger to be determined.
“Sounds good to me,” Weiss said. “For the last few years I’ve been the no. 1 guy in Florida, so I’ve seen a lot of top lines and top defense, so for me to drop down a spot, that’s going to be great for me. I think Pavel and Z will see a lot of attention, and hopefully we can fly under the radar and do some damage. I just want to provide as much support for those guys as possible.”
LIGHTNING’S COOPER: FILPPULA ISN’T LECAVALIER
The Tampa Tribune points out Valtteri Filppula signed with Tampa Bay on July 5, eight days after Vincent Lecavalier’s buyout. The natural inclination, then, is to view Filppula as the replacement for Lecavalier.
“I think everybody in our organization 100 percent knows that it is not even comparable,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said of comparing Filppula with Lecavalier. “But because they play the same position, they shoot the same hand, of course they are going to be compared. I just think that’s unfair to put that on Val, because Vinny has been doing it in this league for 15 years at a high level. So, that’s an unfair comparison.’’
Cooper is certainly savvy enough to know Filppula will be a welcome addition to the roster.
“I think he is coming right into his prime, and he’s spent pretty much his entire professional career being educated at a Grade-A organization,’’ Cooper said. “And he has won. He comes from a winning organization, so any time you can take players out of that environment while you are trying to create that in your organization, it will help us.’’
GM Dale Tallon said he will be shopping for a veteran free-agent goalie, but there is no indication that the Panthers are considering bringing back veteran free agent Jose Theodore, 36, who’s still available and lives in the area.
“There will be a lot of transactions during this training camp,” Tallon said Sunday afternoon. “We’re looking at every possibility, the waiver wire, trades, free agents, whatever we can do to improve.”
BJUGSTAD CONFIDENT HEADED INTO PANTHERS’ CAMP
The Miami Herald projects the Florida Panthers go into Thursday’s start of training camp with three of four center spots filled by Shawn Matthias, Marcel Goc and No. 2 overall pick Aleksander Barkov.
The 19th overall pick in the 2010 draft, Nick Bjugstad is a big center — he’s 6-6 and 225 pounds — the Panthers hope to build around in the future.
Whether that future is this season remains to be seen.
“I feel ready for camp,” Bjugstad said before the start of the Panthers’ prospect tournament. “These are obviously a big couple of weeks for me. I have to prove myself.
“There’s a lot of talent in this organization. I think I did a lot to improve myself over the summer. I hope I’m ready. We’ll see.”