Top Line: Gretzky takes over in Boston; Tarasenko poised for breakout; more links
By Allan Muir
An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:
• The Bruins are counting on Keith Gretzky to identify the next great ones. The news that Gretzky, formerly an Ontario-based bird dog, was promoted to the role of chief amateur scout came as a bit of a surprise. Most speculation centered around Boston bringing in an outsider after the team fired Wayne Smith following the 2013 draft, but the length of time it took to name Gretzky as his successor suggests that there was no one better available. It's not exactly the vote of confidence he would have received if the Bruins had named him to the post immediately, but the reins are in Gretzky's hands now. And honestly, he can't do much worse than Smith.
• Experience gained during the lockout-shortened has Blues second-year forward Vladimir Tarasenko primed for a breakout campaign. The kid flashed some game-breaking skill last year, and he seems to have learned a key lesson about how to play the game. Don't sleep on him too long come hockey pool time.
• Here's Terry Jones with a nice feature on new Oilers coach Dallas Eakins. Every spot is apparently up for grabs ... and everyone better arrive in shape when camp starts next month.
• Yesterday was a mixed bag for Gustav Nyquist. The RFA forward signed a two-year deal with the Red Wings, but he's getting less than a million dollars per year. He might want to look for a new agent before this contract expires. He also learned of an arrest in the case of the missing puck from his first goal. There's no word yet on whether the prized souvenir was recovered, but we can all rest easier knowing that at least there has finally been a break in the investigation of this notorious crime.
• The Sudbury Wolves are headed to Russia today to defend their Junior World Cup title. The tournament might not be the biggest event on the hockey calendar, but it's definitely one of the coolest, pitting junior teams from around the world against each other. The Wolves, representing the CHL, beat the USHL's Waterloo Black Hawks last year in the final, 2-0. The U.S. will be represented this time around by the Dubuque Fighting Saints.
• This is a pretty neat financial trick: Jeff Vanderbeek sold the New Jersey Devils for more than twice what he paid and still managed to lose a small fortune. He must have learned how to handle money effectively while he worked at Lehmann Brothers.
• Flames goaltender Leland Irving has bailed out of a crowded crease situation and is trying out with Jokerit in Finland. He's hoping that some overseas exposure will help develop his game, which has stalled in the Calgary system. Hey, it worked for Tim Thomas...
• A couple of Russian players face up to 10 years in prison after allegedly brawling with cops. That's very enigmatic of them. (j/k!)
• After pumping up Jason Spezza's candidacy to be the next captain of the Senators, the Ottawa media is now looking at Chris Phillips as a player capable of succeeding Daniel Alfredsson. Both guys could handle the role, but Phillips might have the edge because of his dressing-room presence.
• The Ducks will be without defenseman Sheldon Souray for 4-6 months after he ruptured tendons in his wrist during a workout. The team quickly signed UFA Mark Fistric to replace Souray's physical game, but they'll really miss his shot from the point.
• Speaking of Anaheim, the team will know by next week whether it will have Teemu Selanne in the lineup for the 2013-14 season. He's looking for assurances of a top-six role, and the Ducks appear to have a spot open on the second line, so it looks like he'll be back to chase his 700th career goal.
• How to replace the skill and presence of former captain Vincent Lecavalier is one of the key questions facing the Lightning in today's 30-in-30 feature on NHL.com. The answer might be 2013 first rounder Jonathan Drouin.
• Veteran defenseman Hal Gill is still looking for work after being bought out by the Predators. He thinks he still has something left in the tank after playing more than 1,100 games, but it appears that 30 NHL teams are skeptical.
• No need to go all vigilante or anything. Just keep your eyes open for this stolen goalie mask.
• One more reason to love Toronto: the city's transit union is flipping out over new uniforms because they look like something a fan of the Canadiens would wear. And it sounds like the Toronto Transit Commission is listening.
• Uh-oh. Someone handed Montreal blueliner P.K. Subban a microphone at Yankee Stadium. After watching this, we can only hope that the Norris winner some day finds the courage to break out of his shell.
• The Sharks unveiled new sweaters for the 2013-14 season. Apparently, removing a couple of stripes will make them lighter and thus help with performance. I'm thinking a couple extra leg lunges over the summer might have the same effect.
• San Jose forward Brent Burns discovered some unusual skeletal remains on the golf course this week. Since he didn't find the bones on a green, I'm guessing we've discovered all we need to know about his golf game.
• Is there a Czech word for ridiculous? I'm guessing not, judging by Jaromir Jagr's appearance in this Reebok photo shoot.• Patrick Burke is stepping down as executive director of the You Can Play Project for all the right reasons. He did some amazing work and helped normalize the acceptance of LGBT athletes. Best of luck to new project director Wade Davis.