Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Wrapping up Day 1 of the GM meetings
TORONTO -- As the opening day of the NHL general managers meetings wrapped up Tuesday, it was interesting to see a few GMs take the time to stop and chat with veteran agent Don Baizley.
Baizley just happens to represent Peter Forsberg, among other high-profile clients. Canucks GM Mike Gillis and Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli were among those who took the time to say hi to Baizley.
"I've had some discussions with Don Baizley on him and we had people scouting him last week," Chiarelli told ESPN.com, confirming his interest in Forsberg. "It's something that we certainly would look at exploring."
The Canucks have a very keen interest in Forsberg, while the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers are also among several teams kicking the tires.
"I've made it known before that a healthy Peter Forsberg, who wouldn't be interested?" Flyers GM Paul Holmgren said after the meeting. "I don't know that he's healthy. I know he played in those games over there [in Helsinki last week]. We had a couple of guys watching him."
Forsberg, meanwhile, has not yet made a decision on his playing future.
"We spoke briefly today and we'll talk again in a day or two," Baizley said Tuesday. "It's a big decision for him. He's got to take his time."
Forsberg, 36, is a free agent. He played for Sweden in an international tournament in Helsinki last week, with NHL scouts in the stands watching his every move. The Swedish star has been felled by foot/ankle problems for the last few years.
Baizley was attending a sports management conference at the same Toronto hotel where the NHL's 30 GMs were also meeting.
• Is Chris Chelios on the verge of coming back to the NHL?
Phoenix Coyotes GM Don Maloney dropped the name of the 47-year-old defenseman Tuesday after the GMs meeting, when addressing his injury-depleted blue line. Maloney said he planned to travel to San Antonio to scout Chelios on Friday night. The veteran is playing with the AHL's Chicago Wolves.
"He's there, he's saavy and he's in great shape," Maloney said. "[But] I don't know
the pace of the NHL game is so quick."
Chelios, when contacted via text message by ESPN.com, didn't know of the Coyotes' interest.
"We haven't spoken," said Maloney. "He's just another name, a right-handed shooting defenseman, [so we're] saying, 'OK, let's talk about it.' A week ago we were in pretty good shape health-wise, a week later you have two of your top six down."
The Coyotes were without injured blueliners Ed Jovanovski and Zbynek Michalek.
• The headline issue of these NHL GM meetings wasn't on the table Tuesday. Head shots will be the centerpiece discussion Wednesday.
One interesting topic brought up Tuesday was the trapezoid, the area in the corners of the ice where, since the lockout, netminders have not been allowed to play the puck. GM Doug Wilson of the San Jose Sharks put it up for discussion Tuesday, believing it might be a good idea to get rid of it. Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford was among the GMs who support getting rid it as well, but overall, it got a lukewarm response from the group.
"I don't think there's a great appetite to change it," Wilson said afterward. "And I don't mind that. When you change one thing, it might affect two or three things. We put it on the agenda just to really spur thought on it."
"I think generally the trapezoid has been good for the game," said Buffalo Sabres GM Darcy Regier.
• Atlanta Thrashers GM Don Waddell is scheduled to meet again with Ilya Kovalchuk's agent, Jay Grossman, on Thursday. Kovalchuk, who could be back in the Thrashers' lineup as early as Thursday, is slated for unrestricted free agency July 1, and the team has been pressing hard to try to get him to sign an extension. They don't want it to drag on all season.
"Certainly we've had very constructive conversations," Waddell told ESPN.com after Tuesday's GM meetings. "We've had some more intense discussions, I would say, in the last couple of weeks, which I think will lead to a resolution to the situation in the near future. When I say the near future, I would say in the next few weeks I would hope."
• The NHL is considering renegotiating the contentious lease agreement between the city of Glendale, Ariz., and the Phoenix Coyotes in the hopes that it might streamline the league's efforts to sell the financially troubled club.
The NHL recently officially bought the club out of bankruptcy and would like to find a new buyer as quickly as possible. Because the 30-year lease with the city will always be an issue for a prospective buyer, deputy commissioner Bill Daly said they are considering entering into negotiations with Glendale to rework the lease so that the team might be more attractive.
"It's one possibility of moving toward resolution, whereas now all of the potential purchasers have this big elephant in the room. What's the lease going to look like?" Daly said.
"It may be one way to move the process forward by going in and doing our own deal, understanding what's there and then we have something to sell. And either people want to buy it on those terms or they don't. It could make it easier. I'm not suggesting it's the only way to go about it."
Would the league ask for an out clause if they did rework the lease?
"It's a fair question, but since we haven't had that discussion yet with the city of Glendale, I don't want to presuppose what or what not we might need in that agreement. It really depends on the other elements of the agreement to a large extent," Daly said.
• One agenda item that will be brought up Wednesday, time permitting, is the issue of NHL fighters using UFC-style tactics. The Nashville Predators were upset last season when they felt San Jose Sharks winger Brad Staubitz used his forearms to punch Jordan Tootoo in a fight. Sharks GM Doug Wilson was upset the Predators complained to the league about it.
"We brought it up with the league that we thought he was hitting him with his forearm," Predators GM David Poile said Tuesday. "Doug doesn't see that, but that's what I saw on the film. I asked the league, is this something we should talk about? I haven't heard a thing about it until now."
• Lightning GM Brian Lawton was upset when prized rookie Victor Hedman was drilled by Chris Neil last week, causing the first-year blueliner to suffer a concussion.
"But I had raised some of the concerns of head shots long before Victor got hurt," Lawton said. "So it's timely. I'm interested in the long-term outlook of what we're going to do as a league. It costs money when all these guys are out."
• Also on the agenda for Wednesday will be a discussion with Daly concerning long-term contracts, or the so-called "cheat deals." The NHL is currently investigating the contracts signed by Roberto Luongo, Chris Pronger and Marian Hossa to see if there's any proof those parties conspired to circumvent the CBA by lowering the average cap hit on those deals by tacking on low-salaried seasons at the end of them (only the average salary of a contract counts against the cap).
"We will report on the status of the investigations that are ongoing and some of the issues we have that we're concerned about that raised red flags with us that caused the investigations," Daly said Tuesday.