Weekend wrap: Ovi-Kovy controversy, Senators not moving, Coyotes sale
Caps coach Bruce Boudreau told ESPN.com Saturday that he believes the incident after last Monday's 5-0 loss in New Jersey actually brought the team together even though he thinks it was exaggerated.
"I was doing my press conference and there was a laugh and I looked over," Boudreau said. "But it wasn't Ovi that laughed, it was Kovalchuk that laughed. I don't know what Ovi said in Russian, maybe something like, 'Boy, did we suck.' And Kovalchuk laughed. It was like someone clapping real loud. It's a noise that startles you. So you look over. I made nothing of it."
My colleague and friend Cory Masisak certainly did in an interesting piece that raised eyebrows in D.C.
Boudreau realizes the optics weren't great.
"I can understand as an old-school guy, we never used to talk to our opponents," Boudreau said. "But in hockey's new age, you see it after every game."
The coach chatted with his franchise player about it.
"The next day, we talked about a lot of things, that was just a very brief part of it," Boudreau said. "He said to me, 'That was just my friend and we were just talking after a game.' I said, 'I know, I know.' But when you lose 5-0, people accentuate more than it is. To us, it was a nothing deal."
Boudreau also understands the desire for players of the same country to touch base after games.
"When I played in Europe, if there was a Canadian on the other team, even if I didn't know him I would wait after the game for him," Boudreau said. "Just to talk in our native language, or just to catch up. I'd like to compare notes on how teams were treating us over there. Do they pay the bills? That's what Canadians wanted to know over there. So we were always waiting to talk to guys after the game. I can see that if you're Russian, Swedish, German, whatever, that maybe having a chance to talk to a hometown friend you haven't seen in a while in your native language after a game, it's a big deal."
Sens' work doesn't generate traction
The up-and-down Senators have worked the phones hard all season long but still no move.
"We do continue to talk and attempt to shore up our team, but at this point there is nothing," Sens GM Bryan Murray told ESPN.com Saturday.
Murray would not get into specifics, but a league source told ESPN.com that the veteran GM sent a memo to the other 29 teams saying defenseman Brian Lee was available and that hasn't generated much traction at this point. Meanwhile, other sources told ESPN.com that the Sens have received calls from other teams inquiring about forward Nick Foligno, who didn't have a goal this season entering Saturday night's game against Toronto. Not sure the Sens, however, would want to give up on him this early in the game when he's only 23 years old, but I guess stranger things have happened.
Coyotes sale still not there
The sale of the Phoenix Coyotes from the NHL to a group led by Chicago businessman Mathew Hulsizer is inching closer but it’s still not there.
A source with knowledge of the situation told ESPN.com Friday that he believed the aim was to close before Christmas. A final lease agreement with the city of Glendale has progressed, said the source, but still hasn't been finalized, either.
Another source told ESPN.com that while the sale was progressing, it would not be completed in time for the Dec. 6-7 Board of Governors in Palm Beach, Fla. But that's not the end of the world since NHL owners can vote on team sales via fax at any time.
Avery Rule in Effect
Quite the gutsy call by young referee Ghislain Hebert when he disallowed Mike Richards' overtime goal Friday and called Chris Pronger for an unsportsmanlike penalty for waiving his glove in front of Miikka Kiprusoff's face.
We call it the Sean Avery rule but in fact it never was a new rule, more a new interpretation of an existing rule -- unsportsmanlike conduct. The NHL released a memo during the playoffs a few years ago after Avery was waiving his glove in front of Martin Brodeur's face.
I checked with the league on Saturday and this was the first time the penalty had been called for this specific reason since Avery.
"It has not been called since then," Terry Gregson, director of officiating for the NHL, told ESPN.com via email. "The spirit and intent of the USC rule is to keep an acceptable hockey decorum in the game, in this case when a player is screening. This type of act is outside the normal boundaries and needs to be controlled for the good of the game."
Flyers GM Paul Holmgren sent Gregson an e-mail to underline his disagreement with the call and Gregson explained to Holmgren why it was the right one. Personally, I think it was the right call. Pronger's glove was in the face of Kiprusoff -- the tape doesn't lie.
Chelios coming out of retirement?
Reports out of Russia over the past few days linked a few KHL teams to retired blueliner Chris Chelios, 48. TSN's Darren Dreger confirmed Friday that there were at least talks between KHL club Vityaz and the Chelios camp.
In fact, Chelios told ESPN.com that two KHL teams were in the mix.
"Two teams are looking for a D-man, so might as well listen," Chelios told me via text message. "Just sniffin' around, nothing serious."
Bergeron gets final clearance
Unrestricted free-agent blueliner Marc-Andre Bergeron got the final clearance from doctors Thursday and can resume his NHL career after recovering from offseason knee surgery.
Bergeron, 30, can help a power play, as he did last season when he potted 13 goals and 21 assists in 60 games with the Montreal Canadiens. He had 14 goals and 18 assists in 72 games the season before in Minnesota. You know what you're getting in Bergeron, a power-play force with a heavy shot but a defensive liability in his zone. Still, double-digit goals can only help a team in dire need of power-play help.
The Florida Panthers have the lowest ranked power play in the NHL, but GM Dale Tallon told ESPN.com Saturday that, at this point, his team wasn't involved in talks with Bergeron. While Tallon would not say, I suspect the reason is that he'd have to unload a contract before he could ever think of phoning the Bergeron camp. Columbus (ranked 28th on the PP), Nashville (27th), St. Louis (24th), the Islanders (17th), the Rangers (14th) and the Coyotes (13th), also all told me they weren't in on Bergeron.
What about the Devils and their 29th-ranked PP? There's a blue line that needs an injection and I believe there is some interest there. I also think the Dallas Stars, ranked 22nd on the PP, have a bit of interest in him.