By Allan Muir
An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:
• Ex-Sabre Brian Campbell says Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek are in for a beatdown of a season as long as their expiring contract status hangs over their heads. Hard to believe that this will be anything but a sideshow in Buffalo as long as their situation remains unresolved.
• If you think it's cool for opposing players to offer contract advice through the media, then you'll love what San Jose's Logan Couture has to say about Nazem Kadri's salary standoff with the Maple Leafs.
• Edmonton Oilers president Kevin Lowe says Calgary's new Director of Hockey Operations, Brian Burke, spices up everything he gets involved in. Might be a good time to start pricing barn rentals in Alberta.
• George Johnson thinks Burkie might have trouble keeping his promise to stay in the background in Calgary.
• Burke's hiring wasn't the only big hockey news out of Calgary yesterday. The Flames conducted a walk-through of the flood-ravaged Saddledome and declared that it would be ready for the season opener. It's absolutely amazing what they accomplished in eight weeks. It took me longer than that to change a burned-out light bulb in the garage.
• This morning, Ryan Murray, the No. 2 pick in the 2012 draft, will play his first game since suffering a season-ending shoulder injury last November. He's a bit excited, but maybe not as much as the Blue Jackets are.
• Don't ask Marc-Andre Fleury about last season's playoffs. Or about his time spent this summer with a sports psychologist. But it's probably okay to ask him what he thinks about that whole mini-dome subplot on Under The Dome.
• Brett Hull has returned to St. Louis to take on a vice-presidency role with the Blues. Apparently, the Ambassador of Fun position was already filled.
• Because it's the first week of September and we're desperate, here's some video from last night's St. Blues Blues vs. Dallas Stars game at the Traverse City rookie tournament.
• He has an open invitation from the Red Wings, but Daniel Cleary is joining the informal skates in Detroit in hopes of attracting a training camp tryout offer from one of the league's other 29 teams. He's gritty, experienced . . . hmm . . . Edmonton, maybe?
• Canadian baseball legend Justin Morneau changed his number to 66 upon being dealt to the Pittsburgh Pirates, which seems kinda ballsy, but there's one number even he won't wear.
• The Florida Panthers were due for some good news on the injury front, and they might just have gotten it. Sounds like top-six winger Kris Versteeg, expected to be out until November while recovering from knee surgery, could make an early return.
• Almost two weeks after most contending countries held Olympic orientation camps, the Czechs finally got around to naming 67 players to their initial list. And yep, there's Jaromir Jagr, one of 38 NHL-affiliated players to make the early cut. If he makes it to Sochi, it'll be his fifth appearance in the Winter Games.
• Sean McIndoe thinks it's high time that Canadians start panicking about their Olympic team. Don't know where he's been, but most of us committed to that national pastime about an hour after Crosby scored the gold medal-winner back in 2010.
• Here's a look at the NHL's top-20 players by defensive zone starts. This apparently helps us understand why another advanced stat can be misleading. Hey, I do this for the kids.
• Former Florida Panther and Phoenix Coyote Peter Mueller finally found some place to play this season. • Ilya Solaryov, a member of Kazakhstan's national team currently playing for the KHL's Barys Astana club, was banned from international play for two years after testing positive for a banned stimulant . . . and it's one that some NHL players might have reason to use.