Soundin' Off -- the lifeboat

Monday, July 30, 2007

Monday roundup

After 34 fun hours at DeLuca this weekend...

The Islanders are officially coming. The Sound Tigers announced most of their preseason sked. Our man Bernie Cassell is in Finland.

So Anchorage reports that Justin Bourne is on a BST AHL two-way deal. From what I've heard, several guys will be signed, including a few who were at the rookie camp -- Bourne and Tyler Haskins among them -- but Utah will probably do most of the announcing, because they'll mostly affect the Grizzlies. (There's already 13 or 14 guys probably competing for 12 forward jobs before you get to these AHL/ECHL guys.)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

What'd I Miss?

One short week. Much has happened. Much is yet to come. Though not necessarily around here.

So apparently the Devils and Islanders will convene again 52 weeks later for a preseason game at Harbor Yard. (So the Devils say, anyway.) They'll also play at Lowell. No official word from the BST/NYI yet; there may be some jots needed. The game certainly doesn't appear to be on Ticketmaster yet, and IIRC that's how it was "announced" last year.

The long-rumored promotion of Jim Schoenfeld finally happened, and Ken Gernander is the new head coach of the Wolf Pack. Also promoted: Gordie Clark, to director of player personnel. Let it never be forgotten what he meant to that first Sound Tigers team.

Lots of other coaching stuff: Cory Clouston takes over in Binghamton (here's a big Michael Sharp story from the Press+Sun Bulletin), and former Hershey Bear Mike Stothers is the man in Grand Rapids. Maybe we'll see him coach eventually. Thanks to Patrick Williams: Pat Conacher is quietly out in San Antonio and apparently has been for a while. It's deep within a bigger Don Maloney story.

HOURob Daum (4/18)Kevin Constantine (5/29)
BPTDan Marshall (4/30)Jack Capuano (4/30)
BINDave Cameron (St. Mike's 5/1)Cory Clouston (7/19)
PHIKjell Samuelsson (6/6)Craig Berube (6/6)
GRGreg Ireland (6/15)Mike Stothers (7/18)
MILClaude Noel (Columbus 6/28)Lane Lambert (7/11)
SAPat Conacher (<7/18) 
HFDJim Schoenfeld (7/23)Ken Gernander (7/23)
SPRSteve Stirling-sGeoff Ward (5/15)
NORMike Haviland-nSteve Stirling-s
RCK---Mike Haviland-n
CLE---Joe Sacco (5/7)

n-from Norfolk to Rockford with Chicago's affiliation; s-from Springfield to Norfolk with Tampa Bay's affiliation

Speaking of, the Coyotes have signed Ryan Caldwell and Craig Weller. And not speaking of, the Penguins re-signed Alain Nasreddine. David Masse is back with Rio Grande Valley (CHL) (home of Paul Fixter and Rich Bocchini). I'm pretty sure other guys signed, but I can't find them/those pages crashed my computer/I'm too lazy to look again. (I'm technically not back until the Brakettes game today, so cut me some slack.) In response to some comments, I've not heard anything about Matt Koalska, but he's one of several guys I'm planning on calling in the next few days. And a certain coaching-in-Utah rumor sounds like it's not just rumor. But I guess it's not announced yet. It'll be very nice if -- when? -- it happens.

Elsewhere, our man Dwayne Hay makes a strong move toward the annual Doug Gilmour "I Retire - No Wait I Don't - Do I?" Memorial Award. (He's actually got a long way to go to knock off Sammy Sosa. And Scott Niedermayer and Jeremy Roenick probably have him beat in the hockey division. So scratch that.) Interesting WSJ piece about the Detroit riots of 1967 and what they did to the city.

And finally, Dave Fay of the Washington Times died last week. Tim Leone put together a moving tribute.

Soundin' Off suggests...

... The Chicago Architecture Foundation's Architecture River Cruise, a 90-minute tour of the Loop from the Chicago River, including both branches. Neat stuff on a few different levels.

... reading the back of your River Cruise ticket. It warns you to be wary of pucks or other equipment that might be launched into the spectator area.

... Steak 'n Shake. Rich Bocchini introduced us in 2002 in Rosemont. Dangerous.

... the Metra and its $5 weekend pass, all-you-can-ride. Hours of entertainment. With a 90-minute ride each way from Joliet to Chicago (down the Rock Island Line -- it's a mighty good road), that was precisely six hours of entertainment for us. There was the 4-or-so-year-old boy in front of us who kept asking his mom questions -- intelligent questions, actually. There was the 6-or-so-year-old girl behind us who told her mom a 10-minute story about a field trip -- in one run-on sentence. There was the dude who kept getting phone calls as we approached LaSalle Street Station; the first (loud) conversation began: "Dude! What's up! Yeah, I just got out of jail!" (The woman next to him got up and moved.) He later talked about his dream of opening up an, um, "adult" video store. Ah, entrepreneurial spirit. And then there was the group that just made the train on our last trip out; half went upstairs, half stayed downstairs, and the women proceeded to have loud conversations between the two levels. (Most of the guys just looked mortified.)

... wearing a green shirt while an Irishman makes a charge at Carnoustie. It looks like you've planned ahead.

... Giordano's. My brother can't find good pizza out there. This place is different -- their stuffed pizza isn't exactly what you're looking for in that regard -- but it's good stuff.

... The El (or the L, or whatever). No urine, no rats, no problem! You still shouldn't make eye contact with anyone.

... Vin Scully. He was on the MLB package calling that 13-9 game last week. Riveting.

... Maggiano's, where the guys at work told my brother to go. It's a chain, but it's good, family-style stuff. Guaranteed leftovers.

... a trip to Springfield, Ill., to visit as many Abraham Lincoln attractions as you can fit in. We made it to the Lincoln Tomb (check out the virtual tour), the Lincoln Home and the Museum (which included a cheesy but endearing Tim Russert fake newscast, imagining campaign ads by the four candidates of the election of 1860; and a video map that showed the progress of the Civil War and each army's situation, one second per week). Fascinating stuff all around. And Lincoln's speeches are always worth reading.

... giggling at your own typos. Because "campaign ads" above originally came out "campain ads," which seems almost Freudian.

... A pit stop in Atlanta. That's Atlanta, Ill.

... buying unleaded plus in southern Illinois, where for some reason -- didn't get to ask why, though I'm suspecting some kind of ethanol thing -- it's cheaper than regular unleaded. Regular unleaded was under $3 a gallon down there; it was around $3.40 near Midway.

... The Sears Tower. Hurry, before it's not the tallest building in the United States (let alone in Chicago) anymore.

... ignoring hockey for six days, just to get away. It was a lot easier this year than last year...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Can he swing from an open thread?

In response to a request from someone pretending to be one of the greatest Nighthawks, I've added NHL.com to the links. And just in case another Nighthawks great should stop by, I've added the NHLPA, too.

The Amerks mess may be getting worse.

Meanwhile, should be away from the ol' compy for a while. Treat this as an open thread if you'd like, and I know you guys'll play nice. Should be a lot quieter than the last time. Unless Snow joke redacted. But that would just be crazy. I mean, this time around, they have joke redacted before. Of course, Dubielewicz would be joke redacted.

See ya shortly.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Old (school)

Stuff I've been meaning to post, but didn't:

--No sooner did I write that Alexandre Giroux was still on the pile than he hopped off, signing Friday with Atlanta.

--Brent Sutter is Jersey's new head coach. Masi Marjamaki played for him at Red Deer, and I asked him about Sutter two years ago. It didn't fit the feature at the time, but I saved it just in case. Well, what the heck: "Mean," Marjamaki said with a grin. "He's a good coach. You work hard. Everyone makes mistakes, but if they're working mistakes, he doesn't care. If you work your hardest, he'll like you."

--The IIHF is trying to put together a world club championship to go with a European Champions League. That could be fun. And could a little more prize money available on the other side of the pond -- albeit only to certain teams -- be an incentive to some mid-vet players in the future? A little push over the edge, if you will.... Just idle speculation.

--RIP John Ferguson Sr., former Rangers coach and GM among other jobs.

--Saturday was the 10th anniversary of my first assignment for the Post, the first round of the 1997 CSGA junior, back when I was a free-lancer fresh out of college. Still here (and still covering Little League). Thanks, Mark and Gino...

Sunday, July 15, 2007

By appearances...

The NHLPA has Fata and Regier listed as signed at their qualifying price, $495,000 in the NHL.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Another Johnson

The Islanders have signed Aaron Johnson (IHDB) and seem to be talking about him in possible Bridgeport terms. Here's a Columbus Dispatch story from June that talks about him after Columbus non-tendered him. Edit: BTW, he's at 291 GP, so he qualifies for one of those semi-exempt vet spots.

The official on Maxime Ouellet is due shortly. I'm intrigued. The guy was on top of the world just a few years ago, a can't-miss goalie. He'll be a good story.

Also, congrats to Bill Ballou on the Ellery Award, well-deserved.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Punch drunk

No new tough guys, but another goalie on the way. It sounds like the name has been floated out there, so some of you may not need to see the notebook in the morning as we come back after a post-boxing break.

They're waiting to hear back from some guys, and it sounds like they'd be satisfied with what they have up front, if nothing changes.

Some other stuff that's in there:

--Lane Lambert is the new head coach of the Milwaukee Admirals. Lots of white space and a table follow.

--Brandon Cullen will start the road back with Charlotte.

HOURob Daum (4/18)Kevin Constantine (5/29)
BPTDan Marshall (4/30)Jack Capuano (4/30)
BINDave Cameron (St. Mike's 5/1) 
PHIKjell Samuelsson (6/6)Craig Berube (6/6)
GRGreg Ireland (6/15) 
MILClaude Noel (Columbus 6/28)Lane Lambert (7/11)
SPRSteve Stirling-sGeoff Ward (5/15)
NORMike Haviland-nSteve Stirling-s
RCK---Mike Haviland-n
CLE---Joe Sacco (5/7)

n-from Norfolk to Rockford with Chicago's affiliation; s-from Springfield to Norfolk with Tampa Bay's affiliation

Friday, July 06, 2007

Deep breath

A little quieter day around here. It has been quite a week, especially for a team that a) often waited until mid-July or early August before actually signing anybody, b) sometimes hasn't considered "toughness" a necessary component of a player or a team, c) sometimes seemed to think "depth" referred to some swimming pool.

The word is they're not done. They want at least one more forward, another defenseman and almost certainly another goalie. The names aren't certain, but the spots are there.

Here's the officials on Kip Brennan and Tim Jackman. And the BST extended the deadline to apply for their Fan Advisory Board to July 31.

Around the league(s), John Paddock takes over in Ottawa. Denis Hamel signed a three-year AHL deal with Binghamton. The Lightning continue to strengthen the depth with Dan Jancevski, whom our buddy Patrick Williams had rated the No. 1 AHL free agent out there. His No. 3, Joe Motzko, is going to Washington, Lindsay Kramer reports on the blog.

Meanwhile, the fight's about 24 hours away. I'm looking forward to it in almost every way possible.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Busy day all right...

...continues with Mike Comrie joining the big club. Trent Hunter was one of 29 players to elect salary arbitration, including the Rangers' Sean Avery and Marcel Hossa, and the Flames' (that still sounds a little weird) Eric Godard. Eurohockey points us to Ken Magowan's signing with a team in Germany somewhere.

By the time you read this, I hope, I'll have tried to update those signed/FA lists.

Two more

...and important ones. They've signed goalie Joey MacDonald, who has posted some big-time numbers in past years, and Darryl Bootland, a power forward. (This according to NHL.com, so maybe the guys don't know it yet. No, this is verified.)

Edit: Kalmikov'd! Bootland has played 321 NHL/AHL games, per IHDB, and just misses the new semi-exempt status.

TSN reports that the big club has signed Billy Guerin. And now NYI confirm.

Like we said about the warranty...

Allan Rourke, as announced first (before he knew) on NHL.com, is now an Oiler. The Islanders swap a third for a second next year. Edit: the Oilers' release induces BST nostalgia.

From Jason at the League office, the 320 number in the new CBA includes, like the old familiar vets rule, only NHL, AHL, old IHL or European-elite-league-after-junior-age games. ECHL/non-UHaul do not count. And it can be designated nightly. Matt Spiller qualifies. Jackman and Wotton do not.

Veteran move

The AHL and the Professional Hockey Players' Association extended their CBA today for three years. The most obvious change to the game:

The parties also agreed to a modification of the AHL roster regulation which specifies the number of “development players” on the 19-man playing roster. The modification allows AHL teams to qualify one skater with 320 or fewer games of pro experience as a “development player,” essentially creating another veteran lineup spot.

Two questions strike me immediately, so more (and some counting) later.

Hang in, BTW. Sounds like it could -- just could -- be a busy day. (At the boxing press conference... Should I pitch them on a Kip Brennan-Mitch Fritz bout on the undercard?)

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Notes before (and updated after) BBQ

--Allan Rourke's NHL.com page says he's an Oiler. Allan Rourke says he's not. I'm trusting Rourke. Note that this was true at 2 p.m. and (ahem) isn't warrantied for anything thereafter.

--The Isles' first real splash is Ruslan Fedotenko, just announced a little while ago.

--Tampa got Bryce Lampman from the Rangers for Mitch Fritz. Either Norfolk gets stronger, or Lampman gets a shot he probably deserves...

Drive 55

It kinda struck me later... Kip Brennan has been around awhile and still isn't a veteran?

Yep: Take a peek back at that IHDB. He has never played more than 55 games in any season, even in junior. Of course, there have been some suspensions along the way, but he has had some injuries, and one ventures there's some bad luck, too. (Random thing that probably only makes me grin: He was traded for Steve Valiquette in junior.)

Another random thing that probably only makes me grin: The draft pick that Phoenix used to take Spiller was the Islanders' to begin with and was traded in the deal that got the picks that were used on Raffi Torres and Ryan Caldwell.

Anyway. Happy Fourth of July.

And Bart... Well... We love Bart*

So I realized in the afternoon that I hadn't posted yesterday's roundup/quiet-Islanders bit. Rewrote it a little as I slogged through the boxing stories. And then I finally finished and shipped the boxing stories and said, well, haven't checked NHL.com in a while...

Gotta love three names popping up.

Well, they promised toughness. This would qualify. If I've done the math right, Jackman and Spiller count as vets; Brennan is 17 games short.

Meanwhile, Tampa Bay is actually fielding an AHL team this year, with Craig MacDonald probably staying in Norfolk and Mathieu Darche possibly going there, and now today Jay Leach signing... the slap you heard was the good people of Springfield smacking their heads. Sticking with the accidental Beast of New Haven theme, Bates Battaglia remained a Maple Leaf, and Byron Ritchie went to Vancouver. (If only Nolan Pratt had signed.) Some other big AHL signings. The Oilers re-signed Raffi Torres, then got indignant over Michael Nylander.

But I know where I'm going when I get to Chicago.

Lotsa boxing the next few days. Lots.

*-7G08... and I kept yesterday's header, even though it doesn't mean anything anymore, because I love that line.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

You want size?

Not big names, but big boys: NHL.com has wingers Kip Brennan and Tim Jackman and big Matthew Spiller listed under the Islanders' roster. No announcement, but it appears accurate. Average size: like 6-4, 227. This would be a culture shift.

Unconfirmed but out there: There's also this story (thanks to ol' writing' buddy Jonathan) from a coupla days ago that says Pascal Morency is on an AHL two-way.

More later.

Monday, July 02, 2007


The Rangers trotted out Messrs. Gomez and Drury a little after 3 p.m. on the New York Liberty's practice court, both wearing No. 23.

Glen Sather showed them a puck -- logo heads, boilerplate tails. He tossed it.

Drury won and gets to keep Don Mattingly's number. Gomez hasn't decided what he'll wear.

"I don't know if I can go free agent and get my number back," Gomez said.

"It's for sale," Chris said.

Gomez had the answer: "I'll take him out to dinner and get a few drinks in him, change his mind."

(No. 18 is, I think, available as a backup...)

(Bruce Berlet asked Tom Renney if he'd asked Drury about that goal with 7.7 seconds left... "Next question," Renney deadpanned.)

Amazingly related: Another 23, Brandon Nolan, goes to the other side of the Bridgeport-Albany rivalry and signs with Carolina.

More perhaps when I get out of Greenburgh.

---Editing just to add some Drury stuff.

He and his family have a home in California, and that fueled rumors that Drury would look to the West Coast when he became an unrestricted free agent Sunday morning. "People asked that in Buffalo all the time, knowing I had a house in California," Drury said. "My answer was, I had a house in California when I signed a four-year deal to be a Sabre. It's a great offseason place to be."

About leaving Buffalo: "I explained to the writers up there, it would be like a kid from Rochester wanting to be a Sabre, or Batavia or whatever."

BST Non-Free Agent List

Our Man in Blue mentioned in a previous comment that we should maybe list who's under contract. Good point. Greg Logan put a big-club list in his blog yesterday; add in Jon Sim (can't he play a couple of forward positions, IIRC?), and it looks something like:

(Adds will be in blue).

Left wing -- Jeff Tambellini, Sean Bergenheim, Jon Sim, Ruslan Fedotenko, Chris Simon.
Center -- Mike Sillinger, Shawn Bates, Richard Park, Frans Nielsen, Mike Comrie, Josef Vasicek.
Right wing -- Trent Hunter, Miroslav Satan, Bill Guerin, Andy Hilbert.
Defense -- Brendan Witt, Radek Martinek, Marc-Andre Bergeron, Freddy Meyer, Bruno Gervais, Chris Campoli, Andy Sutton.
Goaltender -- Rick DiPietro, Wade Dubielewicz.

(This includes the RFAs.)

Assuming those guys are all up, that would require five or six additions. Here's what's under contract or qualified for Bridgeport and below:

(BTW, I'm putting some of the new guys with the Sound Tigers for now, though it sounds like they may get a crack at the NHL, depending on the rest of the summer/camp...)

LW -- Sean Bentivoglio, Masi Marjamaki, Jason Pitton, Kip Brennan, Pascal Morency
C -- Jeremy Colliton, Trevor Smith, Sergei Ogorodnikov
RW -- Blake Comeau, Petteri Nokelainen, Steve Regier, Tim Jackman (V), Darryl Bootland (V)
D -- Drew Fata, Jamie Fraser, Dustin Kohn, Andrew MacDonald, Allan Rourke (traded), Mark Wotton (V), Matthew Spiller (V/320), Aaron Johnson (V/320)
G -- Michael Mole, Joey MacDonald, Maxime Ouellet

I'm gonna check on one of those names, actually. Something nagging me. Either way, they say they're committed to lots of depth this time around. We'll see what happens.

(I'll put up a link to both of these lists on the right.)

Look, Marge! A couple of bucks!*

So Chris Drury comes homeward, and the Rangers remake their middle for $14 million a year (how do you think The Hockey Rodent feels?).... I tell ya, when even Michel Ouellet is getting a mill and a quarter a year, doesn't getting Jason Blake at $4M per for five years look downright affordable?

The forced dismantling on the Island now includes Ryan Smyth to Colorado. The gutsy move got them a playoff round, but that's it. Poti and Kozlov went to Washington, and Zednik went to Florida.

And now that the Rangers have a new Future Captain (tm), Jed Ortmeyer is off to Nashville.

Columbus signed Sheldon Brookbank, the AHL's top defenseman this past year; Pittsburgh re-signed Dany Sabourin, the top AHL goalie of two seasons ago, to a two-year deal after losing him on waivers early in the past season.

BTW (have I ranted on this before?), in today's salary-capped world, shouldn't team policies be changed to disclose contract terms? Not that they don't work their ways out, but they're kind of pertinent.

*-3F16 (how could I forget that one?).

Sunday, July 01, 2007

BST Free Agent List

(And since it was apparently unclear last year, a reminder that season-ending BSTs who aren't on this list were already under contract for 2007-08.)

(Color code: black: unsigned. blue=re-signed with NYI/BST. red=signed elsewhere in North America. bright, bright green=signed in Europe. Italics indicate it's not announced, but either we're reporting it, or some other semi-official source has it. Split color means there's some kind of report saying it's happening.

Group II
Drew Fata - listed at qualifying price on NHLPA.com, July 15
Steve Regier - listed at qualifying price on NHLPA.com, July 15

Group II, Non-tendered (UFA)
Brandon Cullen - Charlotte (ECHL), July 11
Billy Thompson

Group III
Rick Berry - Springfield, July 26
Eric Boguniecki - ERC Ingolstadt (Germany), June 28
Peter Ferraro

Group VI
Tomas Malec - HC Ocelari Trinec (Czech Rep.), May 1

Gregg Johnson
Jamie Johnson
Ken Magowan - SC Riessersee (Germany), July 3
Brandon Nolan - Carolina, July 2
Stephen Wood - Trenton, Aug. 29

Kyle Rank - WBS Penguins, June 11
David Desharnais

Virtual insanity

Initial BST report is nothing coming down here today. The big clubs are watching the money fly, or sending it flying themselves: $52M/8 for Briere with Philly, $11.25M/2 for Schneider with the Ducks, $30M/5 for Rafalski from Detroit, and you're probably wondering if you can get in on this. And then the Sharks and Flames ruin 7/1/08 by signing Thornton and Iginla. Oh well.


Jeff Hamilton couldn't get a job last year at this time; now, he's got two years at $800k per from the Whalers, TSN reports.

Matt Koalska and Ryan Caldwell were not tendered qualifying offers and are unrestricted.

Two ex-Tigers with one link: Tarnstrom and Grebeshkov sign with Edmonton.


It's always fun to see what kinds of names pop up on the free agent list because they technically belong in a group. Evgeny Korolev, for instance, or Dimitri Upper. Remember when Reijo Ruotsalainen was always on the waiver draft list for Edmonton?


Went back to Syosset and did a Petteri Nokelainen interview that will run eventually, since we're squeezed for space in Monday's paper. Here's the Isles' update on the scrimmage, to save me some lines-typing. The ice seemed tilted whenever that Bentivoglio-Nielsen-Okposo line was on; Nielsen was Nielsen, and Bentivoglio has impressed me all three times I've seen him with his tenacity and his skills. Fraser was flying; an end-to-end rush set up his team's first goal in the closing seconds of the first, and he kept it going. Gratchev looked good to me in the first, and then I kind of lost track of him. Mole has reportedly struggled this week, but he made some good saves today. Jason Pitton was held out as a precaution with a tweaked groin; no sense taking a chance on July 1.

I told Masi Marjamaki I thought his skating looked good the other day, the first day he had skated. "It didn't feel as good as it looked," he quipped. He figures he'll be ready, though. He said he thought he hurt the hip in one of the exhibition games last year, then really felt it around Christmastime, but "it's over and done with."

And Shakey was disappointed in losing two in a row; the coaching watch is on.


It was just about 3 p.m., and I was leaving Syosset with sources out of radio contact. WFAN had the Mets; WCBS had the Yankees; WINS, I don't know when they might do sports. So I went to WHN WUKQ WEVD the Worldwide Leader hoping to hear of any free agent signings, and I found some guy yelling about how we don't care who made the MLB All Star teams; let's pick the Not-Star team, 'cause we care about who stinks this year.

Well, no, we don't. But it was an appropriate time to turn that guy off and go back to 66.

It reminded me of a time in late July of 1995. The Mets were dismantling the remnants of the Worst Team Money Could Buy*. David Cone was on the market again. There were other names rumored to be on the block. I was in Boston with the folks, looking at colleges with my brother. Remember, this is pre-laptops, pre-ESPN News, pre-constant-scroll, and all I had was a cheap hotel clock-radio. And what do I find on what passed for sports radio in Boston, days away from the trade deadline?

Some guy yelling about who should make baseball's All-Ugly team. And some guy calling up to yell how Rawn Kahkovice was the ugliest guy he's ever seen. And no news update for an hour.

I've never been more happy to get back to Connecticut. For all of its faults, WFAN was not gonna give you the All-Ugly team two days before the deadline. Or, heaven forbid, if they were, you weren't more than 20 minutes away from an update.

So happy 20th, WFAN. You're surely not on my All-Ugly team.

*-Ah, Alex Ochoa, before we found out his five tools didn't come with a toolbox...