Hockey Hearsay compiles stories from around the hockey world and runs weekdays, 12 months a year.
BABCOCK: DATSYUK WON’T BOLT FOR KHL
The Detroit News observes there has been heavy speculation that Red Wings star Pavel Datsyuk will return to play in his native Russia when his contract runs out after next season.
That’s not going to happen, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said Wednesday.
“You mean how long is his deal and how much is he gonna make? Well, there’s this much possibility he’s going back to Russia,” said Babcock, making a zero with his thumb and index finger. “I mean, we’ll get it done (new deal) in the summer.”
Datsyuk’s agent, Gary Greenstin, and Red Wings general manager Ken Holland plan to talk about an extension in July. Datsyuk has played only for the Wings in the NHL, but was with CSKA Moscow of the Kontinental League during the NHL lockout. He spoke affectionately of his homeland and how much he enjoyed playing in Russia.
WILL LEAFS EXTEND KESSEL EARLY?
The Toronto Sun supposes the Leafs liked Phil Kessel before, but they certainly are more enamoured with Kessel now, especially after he played with guts and determination in Toronto’s first-round series against the Boston Bruins.
“From a development standpoint, what we would say is the biggest plus, because there were a lot of pluses, is probably the play of Phil Kessel,” Leafs vice-president of hockey operations Dave Poulin said on Wednesday.
“Not only in the playoffs and in that series, but throughout the year. He took his game to a different level.
“He did it physically and he did it in all three zones and he played hard (against the Bruins).”
The Leafs and Kessel’s agent, Wade Arnott, can’t start negotiating on an extension until July 5. At this point both sides are coy, but Arnott indicated in the past Kessel wants to remain a Leaf.
“I would say to you it is too early to speculate,” Arnott said on Wednesday. “I think the Maple Leafs and the city of Toronto saw a young man grow as a player this year. Not just the last seven games, but the last two months of hockey, you saw a young man grow as a player both on and off the ice.”
DEVILS, CLARKSON TALK CONTRACT
The Star-Ledger reports Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello has been involved in talks regarding impending free agent David Clarkson, but there have been no discussions yet with Patrik Elias.
Both players are eligible to become unrestricted free agents July 5 and Lamoriello said he did not know whether either player was committed to exploring unrestricted free agency.
There have been no financial discussions at this point involving Clarkson, who figures to be in demand if he choose to talk to other clubs.
“We’ll continue to work on it. We’ve certainly started the process, but until (contracts) are complete there is nothing done,” Lamoriello said Wednesday.
CANADA’S GOALTENDER IN SOCHI WILL BE…
The Globe and Mail poses this question: If Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury does not regain his form, who will be Canada’s goaltender in Sochi?
At one point, it was a given that it would again be Roberto Luongo, the Vancouver Winter Games goaltender who has had such an up-and-down career since then with the Canucks. Then it was Carey Price, who became so inconsistent in the latter part of this past season that his play was a critical reason why the Senators are here and Price’s Montreal Canadiens are history.
The recent history of Canadian NHL goaltenders has been curious indeed: the St. Louis Blues’ Brian Elliott runs very hot, then runs very cold; the Toronto Maple Leafs James Reimer looks spectacular, looks ordinary; `the Washington Capitals’ Braden Holtby is good, but is he good enough to win a critical game? Other names – Corey Crawford of the Chicago Blackhawks, Devan Dubnyk of the Edmonton Oilers, Mike Smith of the Phoenix Coyotes, Cam Ward of the Carolina Hurricanes – get mentioned but so, too, do their various injuries, inconsistencies and even lack of experience.
Some are even saying that the goaltender Canada should look closely at is 41-year-old Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils, the masked greybeard who has been on Olympic rosters since the NHL was first allowed into the Games back in 1998.
REGEHR COMPLEMENTS DOUGHTY’S STYLE
The Los Angeles Times details Kings defenseman Drew Doughty’s large workload, while also noting he received assistance from a trade-deadline deal that brought Robyn Regehr from Buffalo. The men knew each other from the Canadian national team and possessed complementary styles.
“Reg is a good defensive guy and I’m more of an offensive guy,” Doughty said. “When I need to get up in the play or join the rush, he’s always back there to help me out.”
Regehr, 33, has been impressed.
“He’s got the ability to play a ton of minutes out there, the way he can skate and move the puck,” the veteran said. “And probably the most important thing that says the most about a player is he plays all situations.”
JAGR FONDLY REMEMBERS TIME WITH RANGERS
CSNNE.com points out Bruins winger Jaromir Jagr was asked about the four years he spent in New York City, where he was at the tail end of his hockey prime. The Bruins and Rangers will square off in Game 1 of their playoff series Thursday night.
“I have a lot of good memories in New York. All of the years, we made the playoffs. In the first year nobody believed we could make the playoffs, and we did it. My first year was Hank’s first year and Tom Renney’s first year as a coach,” said Jagr. “We had such a good group of players and we surprised everybody. Such good memories in that hockey time for me.
“But now it’s a different story. I’m not good now. I was a lot better hockey player then, when I was in New York. Of course I’m different. I am honest. I cannot lie.”
Jagr on Lundqvist: “He’s just a good goalie. I never studied the goalie position and I’ve never been a goalie coach, so I don’t know why he’s good,” said Jagr. “He’s because he stops most of the pucks. He’s tough to score on and he doesn’t make mistakes. As far as he goes, the team goes. It’s always been like that since I was there. He’s the most important guy on that team.”
AVS’ KROENKE WIRED TO WORK
Compelling feature in the Denver Post about Josh Kroenke, new president of the Colorado Avalanche. He also happens to be the son of two billionaires.
On his process: “I’m very analytical. I’m very observant. And I like to break down what I’m observing. It’s fun for me to work in the sports world, because I can be analytical constantly. But, at different times of the year, it does kind of bite you, because there is too much to process. And you wind up not sleeping.”
On how folks who expect him to act if he has all the money and all the answers in the world are disappointed: “I don’t act that way at all. I’m a very humble person. That’s how I was raised by my mom and dad. I’m an incredibly hard worker. I don’t like sitting idly by and let other people do things. I’m wired to work hard. And I don’t think it’s going away anytime soon.”
On how money can’t buy wisdom or respect: “There are times when I have to prove and assert myself, and I very much understand that. I’m still young in this industry, and I’m well aware of that.”
NABOKOV WANTS TO STAY WITH ISLES
The New York Post relays Islanders goaltender Evgeni Nabokov, 37, said his agent spoke to general manager Garth Snow four weeks ago, but they haven’t talked since. There were contract negotiations early in the season, but they broke off. Nabokov expressed interest in his exit meeting of coming back, after a rock-solid regular season in which he had a 2.50 GAA and .910 save percentage.
“I think Garth will make his decision,” Nabokov, who is slated to become an unrestricted free agent, said. “I told him I would like to stay, but we were fighting for the playoffs and nothing was going on. Now we have to see.”
RIBEIRO STILL SEEKS 4 OR 5-YEAR CONTRACT
The Washington Times indicates pending unrestricted free agent Mike Ribeiro said Wednesday he needs a four- or five-year deal, which might be a tall order for the Caps to give a 33-year-old.
“I don’t see myself getting worse,” Ribeiro said. “It can only get better. I can be out there. I can work out more. There’s a lot of room there to improve and, you know, that’s why I don’t think I should have less than four or five years.”
General manager George McPhee offered this: “It’s always a delicate process, whoever you’re negotiating with. It’s important to be hard on the merits and soft on the people and do it right. But I’ve never really discussed contract negotiations. As I’ve said 100 times, it never helps the process. And so we’ll get to work on it and see what develops.”