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No rest in the NHL
By John Davidson
Special to ABC Sports Online

The champion Detroit Red Wings head the list with questions this summer.

If Dominik Hasek retires, Detroit will take a solid run at Curtis Joseph. If he retires.

More importantly, how does Detroit handle Scotty Bowman's retirement? Do they stay within with assistants Barry Smith or Dave Lewis? Or do they go outside the organization? One person who could be an interesting choice if he wanted to get back into coaching is Colin Campbell. Does he want to get back into coaching?

Coach Scotty Bowman won his record ninth Cup title.
I still wouldn't be surprised if Detroit tries to convince Scotty to come back. The Wings have convinced him to come back before. The only thing is this time, he wants to spend some time with his wife and family, play some golf and enjoy the fruits of his hard work. He coached a long time. For most of those years, he didn't make a lot of money. He made pretty good money the last few years. Now he's in position to play golf, travel the world and act as a consultant for the Wings.

It is good to point out that when teams hire new coaches, they don't go out to hire the best coach that's available. Instead, they hire the best coach that is available to coach your team depending on your style of play and what your GM wants.

That's why Pat Burns is a good fit for New Jersey. His style is the same way that they want to play -- very hard-working, defensive first, trapping. Pat is very good coaching that way with good discipline. He has a fairly experienced team and he's an experienced coach.

It's a similar situation in Philadelphia. The Flyers needed a coach who would grab them by the throat. Working as a team and not as individuals. Ken Hitchcock's a perfect fit.

In seeing the way Bryan Trottier played the game and seeing the way the teams played that he helped coach (Pittsburgh and Colorado), that's the way Glen Sather wants the Rangers to play.

The two young guys on the scene, Mike Babcock and Dave Tippett are in different situations. Babcock inherits a young Ducks team that already knows how to play hard and play good defense. Now they have to graduate and find some offense. Dallas needed a fresh change and they got it with Tippett, who was an assistant in Los Angeles.

We're still waiting to see what is going to happen with Washington's coaching staff.

Free agency
The big issue in free agency this summer is in the nets. A lot of it depends on what Hasek decides to do. It would help Detroit extremely if he told the Wings what he is going to do before July 1. If he is retiring, that really opens up a big door for the Wings.

If he does retire, the Red Wings will make a run at Curtis Joseph. Cujo's other suitors are the Flyers, Rangers, the Blackhawks.

Mike Richter is not far behind Cujo. But he's had some injury problems (torn ACLs, fractured skull). He's still a pretty good goaltender. The Rangers seem to be changing the culture of their whole team. They might not sign him. Who knows?

Also keep an eye on 41-goal scorer Bill Guerin. There is a chance Guerin could return to Boston, but I doubt it. If he signs a four-year contract, Boston would likely offer him about $6.5 million, but if he gets a four-year offer at $7.5 million per, that is a $4 million difference. So I wouldn't be surprised if he goes elsewhere.

The good teams that seem ready to chase Bill Guerin are Detroit and Dallas. The Rangers are going to be in the hunt too.

Some of the other top free agents who will get attention are Bobby Holik, Tony Amonte, Robert Lang and Darius Kasparaitis.

I don't know what the theme is going to be. People try to spend money wisely. But there are a few teams that will be looking to move up.

The Rangers need to get back into the playoffs, and they need help.

The Blackhawks are a much-improved team, and would be even better if they had Cujo to stop the puck for them.

The Islanders could make a play for Amonte. They could use some scoring. They also could use Kasparaitis as they were one or two defensemen short.

Holik would look very good in Toronto. He would be a perfect fit there or with the Rangers.

Final thought
Over the summer, some rules changes are going to be put in place. One to watch is hurrying up faceoffs and how they formulate it. If somebody is not back up, will they just drop the puck or give a delay of game penalty? That will be somewhat interesting to watch.  HELP |  ADVERTISER INFO |  CONTACT US |  TOOLS |  SITE MAP
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