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.
• Ryan Suter helped mold Jonas Brodin into a legitimate Calder Trophy candidate last season. Can Shea Weber do the same for Seth Jones this season? Yes. Yes he can.
• 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.
• Alex Ovechkin says he's healthy and will honor his contract with the Washington Capitals, no matter what the GM of the KHL's Moscow Dynamo says.
• The Winnipeg Jets are stocking up with some serious size ahead of this season. Not that it did them much good last season.
• Poor Evander Kane. First, a court garnished his wages for not paying a couple of traffic tickets, and then he forgot how to wear a ball cap.
• President Barack Obama thanked Sweden for exporting a quartet of hockey players to his hometown Chicago Blackhawks.
• Gregory Campbell, who famously suffered a broken leg during the playoffs, returned to the ice for the first time yesterday. Doesn't sound like he's close to being ready for the season, though.
• The Bruins announced that they'll participate in a behind-the-scenes TV series this season. Tyler Seguin was traded a season too soon.
• 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.
• Sounds like first rounder Bo Horvat made a good impression in his rookie camp debut with the Canucks.
• Pavel Datsyuk took to the ice with his teammates yesterday for the first time and it sounds like he's pretty stoked about the reinforcements that GM Ken Holland brought in this summer.
• 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.