Believe it or not, there actually have been a few things to write about in the NHL as of recently.
In no particular order, here are the stories I've noticed:
- Columbus Blue Jacket draft pick Stefan Legein has reportedly retired from hockey. The reaction from NHL fans across the country has been mixed. Some people respect the young man's ability to recognize his incomplete willingness to commit to hockey before starting a career, thus keeping himself out of a sticky situation. Others say he is making a brash decision that could keep him out of earning a consistent living.
The interesting point, though, is that the story has had an odd confirmation. Although it was reported in the Columbus Dispatch, which covers all things Blue Jackets, it would seem that the story has iffy beginnings. From what I have read, the original report claiming Legein was retiring was in an amatuer hockey blog. This blog's source was anonymous, and the blog was e-mailed to a reporter for the Dispatch, who reportedly confirmed the story with Legein. Oddly, Legein's parent's reportedly had no idea Legein was retiring until they were contacted by the media to confirm it.
I'm not going to criticize or support Legein, because my opinion would be biased by my own dream of reaching the NHL. I just am sad that he's decided this.
- Another story is the continuing saga of several NHL players who have yet to decide on whether or not they want to re-join the NHL for another season. Following the Niedermayer-Selanne act last summer, Joe Sakic, Mats Sundin, Teemu Selanne, and Brendan Shanahan all remain unsigned, but have not annouced retirement. Sakic and Selanne are certain to return to their teams from last season (Colorado and Anaheim) or retire, so it's just a waiting game. No noise has come from the Shanny front since he announced he would like to return to the Rangers, and yet they weren't interested in him.
Sundin gets the most publicity. As far as I've heard, he's interested in Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, and the New York Rangers. Also, Paul Holmgren (Philadelphia Flyers GM) has publicly said he wouldn't mind having Sundin on his team. I'm fairly certain that he wouldn't go to Ottawa, the Sens being Toronto's biggest rival, and I've only heard slight speculation about Edmonton and Calgary. However, 5 teams in the race is still pretty big. All this waiting is getting annoying, though.
- The next story I'll bring up is an interestingly new (well, old, but new to my attention) point in the Alex Radulov case. Apparently, the KHL is fighting his signing with the argument that NHL teams have signed players such as Nikita Filatov, Viktor Tikhonov, Jason Krog, and Tomas Mozjis, who were allegedly previously signed with a team that was in/has entered the KHL. Now, I know Tikhonov was supposedly under contract at the time of his drafting, so there is a case to be made there. I had also heard something along those lines involving Filatov, but as far as Krog and Mozjis, I have no idea.
Either way, it's interesting to notice that the NHL said those players were free to sign with the NHL, but Radulov is not free to sign with the KHL. If Tikhonov and Co. were really under contract to Russian teams at the time of their NHL signings, it'll look a heck of a lot like the NHL is whining that they are losing a great player, while at the same time they couldn't care less whether or not other foreign leagues lose a key player to the NHL.
Take a look at this from the Russian side of things: the KHL has offered (not forced) a contract to Radulov, who accepted it, likely because he wants the money and he wants to play at home. The KHL sees this as fine, considering that teams in their league have been losing players to the NHL for years and years, and they've finally had enough. They've got to feel pretty cheated, which may be the main reason for this dragging out so long.
Maybe the NHL really should consider creating a world-wide hockey league. Yeah, yeah, travel would be ridiculous, but how about this: A superleague in each continent, with, oh, 40 teams per league. The NHL would expand into Canada and (if possible) Mexico, thus uniting North American professional teams. The KHL would expand throughout Europe (that, or the other European superleague that holds Swedish, Finnish, Czech, and Slovakian teams, among others, would overlap the KHL). I've heard of an Asian league that currently has 7 teams. This league could unite with whatever league is in Japan to create the Asian league. Now, I don't know that Africa, South America, and Australia could come up with enough teams to create their own Continent-wide superleagues, but if they each had, say, 10 teams, then they could make a collective league. Well, maybe not, for travel reasons, but, something could be figured out to include them as well.
Each of these superleagues would play out there individual seasons at whatever lengths, and have a playoff season to determine, not only a league champion, but the 4 strongest teams of the league (ex: Conference Finals participants). The 4 teams from each superleague would compete in a tournament to see who is the greatest hockey team in the world. Kind of a dramatically huge title, but it would be true, for that season.
That's my idea, anyways.
- A few more interesting notes (from 8-25-08, previous stories from 8-24-08):
+ Bryan Berard is going through his second straight year of having to attempt to make an NHL team through a camp tryout offer, rather than a contract. After making the New York Islanders on a tryout last season, the defenseman who was a high first round pick of the Ottawa Senators in 1995 has been invited offered a tryout to the Philadelphia Flyers camp. This is an interesting offer, because although Philly's blue-line is young, they definitely have 6 players who look to be locks on 'D'. We'll see how it turns out.
+ Congratulations to Vinny Lecavalier on regaining the captaincy for the Tampa Bay Lightning. This will give Vinny a much more obvious mentor role to Steven Stamkos (not that we didn't expect that anyways).
+ Ladislav Nagy has joined the list of NHL defects the the KHL, although he isn't exactly a 'defect'. Nagy did not land a contract with an NHL team this off-season, and signed with Cherepovets of the Kontinental League. However, Nagy's agent has stated that he would return to the NHL provided a team would offer him enough playing time to compete at a high level.