Top Line: Thomas Vanek spurns Isles; Ryan Miller trade near?; more links
An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:
• "It's just me being a little selfish, I guess, and wanting to get to July 1 and seeing what's out there," said the Islanders' Thomas Vanek, explaining his decision to turn down New York's massive offer. "It has nothing to do with this team and where we are in the standings. I think this team has a tremendous upside. Is it the right move? I don't know. But it's something me and my family want to explore one time and see how it goes."
• A major trade to bring in an offensive firestarter like Vanek is the only way to salvage the Canucks' season, writes Tony Gallagher. Can't argue with his premise, but Vanek seems like the wrong direction for Vancouver. A player who might be convinced to stick around, Matt Moulson for example, makes more sense.
• Don Cherry will celebrate his 80th birthday in Russia, a place that has inspired some of his best rants over the years.
• Some of Grapes' buddies have sent along their best birthday wishes.
• Former NHL referee Paul Stewart skewers Cherry and Mike Milbury (again) in his latest column.
• With Zdeno Chara off to Sochi to carry Slovakia's flag in the Opening Ceremonies on Friday, the Bruins will rely on five defensemen with 200 games of NHL experience between them to carry them into the Olympic break.
• Legendary defenseman Slava Fetisov says that the driver involved in the infamous 1997 accident that left Red Wings teammate Vladimir Konstantinov paralyzed crashed the limousine on purpose. It may sound like the bitter conspiracy theory of an old man, but it makes for a shocking headline.
• The plan to turn a crime-ridden section of the infamous Cass Corridor into Detroit's new home took a significant step forward yesterday.
• It's one thing to lose. It's another to get kicked around in front of your dad. The Maple Leafs were humiliated last night in Florida, setting a new low-water mark with their minus-27 shot differential.
• It sounds like every Saturday will play like Hockey Day In Canada when Rogers Communications takes over as the country's national hockey broadcaster next season.
• Either Jiri Hudler really ticked someone off back home, or the Czech Olympic squad is being managed as some sort of long-form practical joke. I'm betting on the latter after hearing that a guy who hasn't scored all season was named as the injury replacement for Vladimir Sobotka.
• These are truly desperate times in New Jersey. A player who recently was a healthy scratch for six straight games is now the Devils' No. 1 center as coach Pete DeBoer tinkers with his lines to spark the offense.