Hockey Hearsay compiles stories from around the hockey world and runs weekdays, 12 months a year.
SPORTS PSYCHOLOGIST HELPS HABS’ ELLER
The Montreal Gazette paints a picture of how after being a healthy scratch in the Canadiens’ second and third games this season and with his confidence fragile, Lars Eller met with Dr. Sylvain Guimond, the Habs’ sports psychology consultant, with profound results.
“Sylvain made the difference, no question,” he said, clearly emotional, the words catching in his throat as he considered a very personal journey that’s shaped his game and his life.
“I said back then (as a scratch) that things can change so quickly. I’ve seen it in the past. You’ve just got to stick with it. I’ve had a lot of help from my linemates and had some good chemistry with the players I’ve played with and it’s worked. It’s been working out for everybody, so I’m happy.
“Confidence is the most important thing in sports. That changed my career, right there,” Eller added of his sessions with Guimond. “I knew there was something to be unlocked, that there was something holding me back somehow.
“I did some work with a guy back in Sweden (last) summer, but Sylvain really got through to me in another way that made a difference. It was like he flipped a switch. He made me believe in myself.
“You never stop learning, I’m always going to be taking advice and looking for help from older players, the coaches, from wherever I can get it.”
OILERS’ WHITNEY SEEKS FRESH START
The Edmonton Sun asserts Ryan Whitney will not be back on the Edmonton Oilers blue line next season. The veteran defenceman, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, feels it’s probably in his best interest to get a fresh start. The Oilers seem to be in mutual agreement.
“They had their minds already made up at the start of the season,” Whitney said. “I got here and in my meeting with Ralph (Krueger), I was told I was going on the bottom pair.
“I would never mention players names, but there are definitely other guys that could have been scratched instead of me. I was frustrated that I wasn’t even playing. I went through a lot and it was a tough way to end.”
Whitney admits he may never be the same player he was before his ankle injury, but believes he still has plenty to offer and it was difficult to help the Oilers from the pressbox.
“I think I can still play, I’ve proven that I can,” Whitney said. “Obviously there were some games where I didn’t play well, but there were a stretch of games where I thought I did play well. It’s been a tough couple of years here, I’m just kind of looking forward to a fresh start.”
Want to wish the Oilers best of luck in the future. Met a lot of great people and made some life long friends during my time in Edmonton
“Let’s be honest. I’m not stupid. I know I have a year left and they can probably deal me for prospects, young guys, whatever else is out there,” Vanek said. “Yeah, I’ve thought about it. If it looks like it’s a long rebuild, then it probably makes sense for both parties to move on.”
He said he hasn’t had many talks with General Manager Darcy Regier about the future. The Sabres can’t begin to negotiate a contract extension with him until July 1 and he doesn’t have a clue if they’ll even offer him a new deal.
“It’s part of the business. I’m not going to sit at home and pout about it,” Vanek said. “I’ll reflect on the time I’ve had here, which was up and down. But for myself personally, I enjoyed myself, always tried to make my teammates/linemates better and for the most part I think I accomplished that.
“There’s different types of rebuilds. There’s one where you can trade and get good players back or you do it through the draft. I guess we’ll have to wait and see. It’s tough to tell right now.”
But is it possible he could sign with the Rangers?
“Seven years ago when I was in that situation they were one of the few teams that were talking to me. I’ve seen guys coming here and making that change and it’s not easy,” Elias said of the Rangers. “They have a good team. They have a couple good players. I don’t think I’ll be able to do that. Hopefully not.”
Elias repeated that he hoped to stay with the Devils, but couldn’t guarantee it.
“I hope so. I’ve been here my whole career,” he said. “I’m ready for anything. Sometimes the negotiations are not as easy as it seems.”
David Clarkson, also unrestricted, didn’t want to address the subject at all.
“No comment there. I’m not going to touch on that,” Clarkson said.
“I had a list of candidates and when it became clear that Jim Nill would be interested in leaving Detroit and coming here, I threw the list away,” Gaglardi said. “I think he is without a doubt he best candidate to take his job.”
Nill receives a lot of credit for helping shape a Detroit organization that has made the playoffs for 22 straight seasons.
“I think a GM with a history in scouting certainly has a leg up, and I think anyone who has been around that kind of success also has a head start,” Gaglardi said. “He’s been at the epicenter of one of the best franchises in hockey for nearly two decades, I think he’s an extremely qualified individual.”
“I think the consensus is they want me back and I want to be back,” said Weiss, who made his debut with the Panthers in 2002. “It’s just a matter of the numbers game… It’s a business. Sometimes those things don’t fit and don’t make sense. I understand that. We’ll see what we can do.”
“He had a strong start and he continued on,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “His defensive work this year, he improved — his quickness in the puck area, his quick transition on turnovers and turning it up ice. Very effective, very efficient. I thought he had a real good year.”
“The one thing we really emphasized (in our exit meetings) was that, as a young team, the one area we can really grown in is the summer time,” Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen said. “We can put in the work in the summer to get stronger and bigger and faster and quicker … all those things. The growth from our team can really come from there, start from there.
“We’re going to look at everything else as a management team to see where we can improve for next season as well. Certainly nobody thinks we’ve arrived somewhere now that we were so close. Nobody thinks this is great, we almost made the playoffs. Our goal is to make the playoffs and be able to compete for the Stanley Cup.”
SODERBERG PATIENT WITH NHL JUMP
The Boston Herald supposes that although at times since acquiring his rights in 2007 it appeared the Bruins were frustrated that Carl Soderberg, now 27, did not make the jump to the NHL, the player had good reasons not to come. He didn’t feel ready.
“I missed 12 months of hockey (in 2007) when I had my eye injury when I was 22,” he said. “I didn’t even go on the ice for 12 months. I couldn’t even (work out) off ice. That’s a long time to be away. I felt like maybe I would never even play hockey again.
“It was really tough for me when I came back. It took me a couple of years to be back to where I wanted to be. I played in (Sweden’s) second league first, and then I went to the first league. I wanted to try that before I was ready to play in the NHL. I played in the first league for two years and now I’m ready.”