By Allan Muir
An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:
• While teams around the league are holding the line and signing their young but unproven stars to two-year bridge contracts, the Sabres decided they'd seen enough of Cody Hodgson to ink him to a stunning six-year, $25.5 million deal. GM Darcy Regier was under no pressure to make this kind of commitment, but he clearly placed a premium on continuity over Hodgson's limited track record -- and distressingly lax attitude toward his defensive responsibilities. This deal might work out just fine over time, but it was a financial risk the Sabres didn't need to take.
• Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau had a ticket for one of the flights that was hijacked on 9/11. Here's how he survived.
• The Florida Panthers have spoken with Tim Thomas, Ilya Bryzgalov and Jose Theodore about coming to camp on professional tryout contracts. No one is happier about this news than the guy who runs the @_FloridaMan Twitter feed.
• Patrick Roy proved he could be a winner while wearing the tools of ignorance. Now, Adrian Dater writes, comes his chance to show he can do the same while wearing a suit and tie.
• Gotta love Doug Armstrong's take on the Blues' failed contract talks with Alex Pietrangelo. Teams move on without injured players all the time -- he pointed to Pittsburgh's success while Sidney Crosby was in the press box last season -- and that's exactly how the Blues will deal with their star defender's absence. No worries here. There's lots of time to get a deal done, but the longer it takes, the tougher it will be for Pietrangelo to get off to the strong start he needs to impress Team Canada's brass.
• Turns out that Ilya Kovalchuk wasn't the only Devil the KHL tried to lure away with fat stacks of cash and the promise of endless borscht. Andrei Loktionov confirmed that he turned down offers of $3 million per season from several teams. Don't feel bad if you need to zip over to hockeydb to figure out who Loktionov is.
• An odd situation is brewing in New York, where veteran backup Martin Biron missed the start of camp due to "personal reasons." The Rangers reacted to his absence by bringing in Johan Hedberg on a PTO. That make sense to anyone?
• No Derek Stepan yet at the Rangers' camp, but hey, at least they have an awesome new team motto. That should be good for what, 8-10 points in the standings? More than enough to make up for the absence of the unsigned center.
• The eggplant is back to celebrate Anaheim's 20th anniversary . . . and it might not be a one-off engagement.
• There's a goaltending battle brewing in Philly, but don't worry about anyone's feelings getting hurt. Turns out Ray Emery and Steve Mason are old pals.
• The Canucks are treating the health of David Booth, who is recovering from the ankle surgery he had five months ago, like it's some kind of state secret. Kind of a jerk move to start the new season, isn't it?
• Nice to see Mark Messier land on his feet after being passed over for the Rangers' coaching job. His new gig should keep him busy.
• Some of that fresh blood in Detroit belongs to Daniel Alfredsson, who says he fully expects to be booed when he returns to Ottawa on December 1.
• Here's Bruce Arthur with the amazing story of the sudden disappearance and unexpected NHL return of Paul Ranger.Jordan Eberle Oilers stopped using their youth as an excuse