Western Conference - Offseason update - 07.08.09
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The Dallas Stars have received netminder Alex Auld from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for a sixth-round pick, which Dallas received from the San Jose Sharks.
With Martin Gerber and potential franchise goaltender Pascal Leclaire on staff, Alex Auld was deemed expendable.
In forty-three appearances throughout 2008-2009, Auld posted a 2.47 goals-against average, a .911 save percentage, and one shutout. In his career, Alex Auld has appeared in 183 National Hockey League games, a record of 74-75-25, six shutouts, a 2.76 goals-against average, and a .905 save percentage.
Claude Lemieux returns to the sunset from whence he came
The winner of the 1995 Conn Smythe trophy, scorer of 80 Stanley Cup playoff goals, and veteran of 18 seasons, Claude Lemieux, announced his second retirement from the National Hockey League on Wednesday, July 8, 2009.
Lemieux, who retired in 2003, originally started his return to the NHL with a few training sessions with the Arizona Sundogs (Central Hockey League) before heading to the China Sharks of the Asia League Ice Hockey, only to return to the Worchester Sharks (AHL), and then to San Jose with 18 games remaining in the 2008-2009 regular season.
Claude Lemieux hoisted the Stanley Cup in 1986 with the Montreal Canadiens, in 1995 with the New Jersey Devils, in 1996 with the Colorado Avalanche, and again with New Jersey in 2000. Lemieux is one of eight players to ever win the Stanley Cup three times, and one of five to win it in back-to-back years with different teams (New Jersey and Colorado).
“I want to say how grateful I am to the game of hockey and to everybody that supported me for allowing me this comeback,” Lemieux said during his retirement press conference. “It was a dream come true last year. I’m so thankful to the San Jose Sharks for giving me this opportunity to live this dream.â€
“Last year will be forever and I will remember it as one of the highlights of my career.”
For all of his achievements, Claude Lemieux is also remembered for some on-ice brutality and his infamous â€œturltingâ€ incident during the â€œBrawl in Hockeytownâ€. As a member of the Colorado Avalanche, Lemieux checked Detroit Red Wings center Kris Draper from behind during game six of the Western Conference Finals on May 29, 1996, forcing him to go face first into the dasher. The impact broke draperâ€™s jaw, nose, and cheek bone. Draperâ€™s orbital bone was also shattered and he was diagnosed with a concussion. Reconstructive surgery was required, along with stitches, and Draperâ€™s jaw being wired shut. The Colorado Avalanche defeated the Red Wings in six games on their way to their eventual Stanley Cup victory. In the post-series handshakes, former Red Wings right wing Dino Ciccarelli famously said of Claude Lemieux, â€œI canâ€™t believe I shook the guyâ€™s freaking hand.â€
On March 26, 1997, the fourth regular season meeting between the Avalanche and the Red Wings took place. Tensions mounted as incidents began to mount. At 18:22 of the first period, Detroit enforcer/goon Darren McCarty escaped the grasp of a referee and began to pummel Lemieux, who turtled on the ice as McCarty continued his assault.
For fun, here is the first period box score from â€œFight night at the Joeâ€:
Young, Col (interference), 1:20; Severyn, Col (fighting major), 4:45; Pushor, Det (fighting major), 4:45; Sakic, Col (interference), 5:12; Corbet, Col (fighting major), 10:14; Maltby, Det (fighting major), 10:14; Draper, Det (roughing), 10:14; Forsberg, Col (roughing), 18:22; Roy, Col (roughing, fighting major), 18:22; Larionov, Det (roughing), 18:22; Vernon, Det (roughing, fighting major), 18:22; Mccarty, Det (double
roughing minor), 18:22; Deadmarsh, Col (cross checking, fighting major), 18:37; Konstantinov, Det (fighting major), 18:37.
Happy trails, Mr. Lemieux.
Versteeg remains in Chicago
After the National Hockey League Player Associationâ€™s tiff with how restricted free agent qualifying offers were filed by the Chicago Blackhawks, Kris Versteeg will still be in the Windy City. According to TSN.ca, the 23-year-old RW, who was a candidate for the 2008-2009 Calder Trophy, signed a 3 year/ $9+ million contract with the Blackhawks.
In his first NHL season, Versteeg led all rookies with 31 assists and was second among greenhorns with 53 points, which was fourth amongst the Blackhawks roster.
The Blackhawks management has now placed itself in a precarious situation. The team is now extremely close to the $56.8 million NHL salary cap. The team still needs a backup goal tender and enough cap room to call up reserves in case of injury. The toughest decisions yet to come will be at the end of the 2009-2010 season, when captain Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane become restricted free agents.
Koivu dit adieu Ã des Canadiens de MontrÃ©al
Saku Koivu, captain of the Montreal Canadiens for 10 years, will be packing his bags and heading to the west coast after signing a one-year deal with the Anaheim Ducks. Though he is leaving, Koivu will miss the city of Montreal.
“The man, husband and human being I am today are because of the experiences I had in Montreal,” said Koivu to NHL.com media. “I enjoyed every moment there. It’s a great city, great place to play hockey. Not an easy place always, but an interesting place. I hope the people remember me as a player who loved the city, who was extremely proud to wear the CH for such a long time. I’m extremely proud of the years I was the captain. I hope they remember me as a player and a human being who didn’t want to quit, who gave it all every night, and I think my relationship was beyond hockey because of the cancer. The one thing I said was that even though I played in Montreal, the legacy I wanted to leave was the PET machine at the hospital and being able to help people for years to come. That’s something not one can take away from me.”
In 792 games in Habs sweater, Saku Koivu scored 191 goals and assisted on 450 others for a total of 641 points. Koivu appeared in 54 post-season games for the Canadiens, scoring 16 goals, assisted on 32 more, for a total 48 points.
It was the fans of Montreal that stood together to support Saku Koivu in September 2001 when he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkinâ€™s lymphoma. In return, Koivu formed the Saku Koivu Foundation (website: http://sakukoivu.sympatico.ca/home.html). Koivu states on the SKF:
The challenge of battling cancer was the greatest I ever faced. It made me realize to what extent life is fragile, and how in a time of need, the proper care is of the utmost importance. It was during this period that I began thinking of a way to make a significant difference in helping others who might one day face a similar prognosis. I decided to create a Foundation to raise the $8 million required for the purchase of a PET Scan (Positron Emission Tomography) machine, a high-tech piece of equipment vital in the early detection and treatment of cancer. This machine will be donated to the Montreal General Hospital, where I was treated.
While he may no longer be in Montreal, his legacy will still remain, particularly in every life he will touch through his generosity to the Montreal General Hospital and through the Foundation that bears his name.
In joining the Anaheim Ducks, Saku Koivu will be joining his friend Teemu Selanne, the Finnish Flash, who will be playing in his final National Hockey League season.
â€œTeemu obviously played a role,” said Koivu to NHL media. “I’ve played with him in the Olympics, at the World Championships for Team Finland, and we’ve had a lot of success. I know the chemistry is there. Anaheim was looking for a second-line center, a spot which fit very readily for myself. More than Teemu, what we were looking for was a team that at this point has a legitimate chance to compete for the Stanley Cup. At the same time we wanted to see something else, a different aspect of hockey after all these years in Montreal.â€
To our Francophone readers: If I incorrectly wrote the title of this section, please accept my apologies!