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Lightning strikes twice

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Speculation the Montreal Canadiens might try to land Tampa Bay Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier refuses to die.

Last week Lecavalier acknowledged to the Montreal Gazette he continues to hear the rumors swirling about his name, but said he has no control over them.

Lecavalier did, however, appear to shoot down suggestions that the Lightning’s poor performance over the last two years might push him into requesting a trade, noting early in his career Tampa Bay struggled, but eventually improved into a Stanley Cup champion.

It’s possible – remote though it may be – the Lightning could trade Lecavalier to the Canadiens, but at this point it seems these rumors appear more based on wishful thinking than anything substantive.

Canadiens GM Bob Gainey acknowledged having discussions surrounding Lecavalier several weeks ago with Lightning GM Brian Lawton, but it’s believed Lightning ownership reconsidered trading their captain due to the backlash from season-ticket holders and sponsors when the rumors were reported in January.

Lecavalier has a no-movement clause in his contract, which kicks in on July 1, so if Bolts ownership changes its mind or gets a mind-blowing offer from the Habs or another team, they’ll have to act fast.

• Colorado Avalanche forward Milan Hejduk created a bit of a stir last summer when he suggested to a Czech newspaper he might retire once his current contract expired. But last week he told the Denver Post he’d like to play a little longer.

Hejduk now says he’d not only like to play a few more years, but would like to remain with the Avalanche.

That, of course, is going to depend on two things: his asking price and where he might fit into the club’s future plans.

The Avalanche are coming off their worst season since moving to Denver from Quebec City in 1995 and team owner Stan Kroenke recently suggested the club could be due for some off-season rebuilding.

Hejduk, 33, will earn $3.9 million next season and might have to accept a short-term contract for less money if he hopes to remain with the Avalanche.

• It’s believed Philadelphia Flyers management would like to retain veteran forward and impending unrestricted free agent Mike Knuble beyond this season. But according to, that might not be possible.

Due to his size and strength in front of opposition nets, the 36-year-old Knuble leads all over-35 NHL players this season in goals, but Flyers GM Paul Holmgren has limited cap space for next season and currently lacks sufficient space even to offer him a “hometown discount.”

Knuble made $2.8 million for this season and even if he agreed to take a little less than that to remain another season, Holmgren might be hard-pressed to free-up sufficient cap space to re-sign him.

• New Jersey Devils forwards John Madden and Brian Gionta have expressed their willingness to return to the club following this season, but it remains to be seen if GM Lou Lamoriello will re-sign them.

Both are UFAs this summer and could attract considerable interest on the open market, but if they want to remain with the Devils they might have to consider taking pay cuts.

Lamoriello declined to comment on their respective situations, but a casual glance at his record regarding retention of pending UFA players suggests Madden and/or Gionta could be playing elsewhere next season.

• Boston Bruins goaltender Manny Fernandez is also eligible for UFA status this summer and recently hinted to the Boston Herald he might not be capable of handling the role of starting goaltender.

Fernandez didn’t suggest he’d retire, but said he’d be discussing his future with his family in the off-season. He’s been plagued by knee and back injuries which have hampered his performance in recent years.

• Recent reports out of Detroit claim the contract talks between the Red Wings and pending UFA forwards Marian Hossa and Johan Franzen appear to be at a standstill.

GM Ken Holland was hoping to re-sign at least one of them prior to the end of this season, but has suggested he’ll postpone negotiations for both until after the playoffs.

Hossa and Franzen have expressed their willingness to remain with the Red Wings. The former might be willing to accept a pay cut while the latter will be due a significant raise.

The Wings currently have about $9 million in cap space for next season and are expected to free-up some further room, but it remains doubtful Holland will be able to re-sign both Hossa and Franzen and still have enough to fill-out the rest of the roster.

Rumor Roundup appears Mondays only on Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website,, and is a contributing writer for and Eishockey Magazine.


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