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Rangers, Staal not close on talks

9/14/2010

LOS ANGELES -- New York Rangers GM Glen Sather said he's not close to bringing top defenseman and restricted free agent Marc Staal under contract.

"I wouldn't say it's a wide gap, I'd say it's more of a chasm," Sather said.

He likened the situation to last year's dispute with forward Brandon Dubinsky, who missed the first part of the Rangers' training camp because the two sides couldn't agree on a contract.

Sather said there is leverage on both sides of this kind of situation. If the player isn't under contract by December, he has to sit out the season, Sather said.

Speaking of the Rangers and their curious approach to team-building, we found it a bit curious they would give up on defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti, who they selected with the 21st overall pick in the 2006 draft. Sather dealt him to Carolina for a sixth-round pick in this year's draft and a second-round pick in 2011.

Sather said Sanguinetti, a native of Trenton, N.J., was a nice kid, but didn't see him fitting in with the Rangers given their defensive lineup. Sanguinetti recorded 38 points in 61 games for the Rangers' AHL affiliate in Hartford last season.

So, either the Rangers made a mistake in drafting Sanguinetti as high as they did, or they gave up too early on the youngster and Carolina has stolen a blue-chip prospect for very little in return.

Given Carolina GM Jim Rutherford's hockey acumen and Sather's history of mismanagement in New York, we suggest Carolina wins out here.

We had a chance to chat with Rutherford on Saturday and he is being extremely cautious when it comes to future plans for former captain Rod Brind'Amour.

One of the most important players in franchise history -- he was the heart-and-soul leader of the Canes' Stanley Cup-winning team in 2006 -- Brind'Amour has seen his play slip dramatically the past couple of seasons. In the past two campaigns, he is a combined minus-52.

Although he has another year on his contract left at $3 million, the assumption has been the team would buy out Brind'Amour's contract and he would retire. But Rutherford said the organization and Brind'Amour, who will turn 40 in August, are working through all of their options carefully, including trying to determine if it makes sense for him to come back for one more season.

Regardless of whether he plays or not, Brind'Amour will remain with the team in some capacity, Rutherford said.

Dudley and Ramsay together again

When new Atlanta GM Rick Dudley announced Craig Ramsay would succeed John Anderson as coach of the Thrashers, it reunited the two old friends whose hockey careers have intersected time and again over the years.

"He was at training camp with me in Buffalo, actually in St. Catharines, Ontario, but he became my first roommate in 1971 in Cincinnati, Ohio," Ramsay said of Dudley and their time together in the AHL. "He showed up with his MGB Midget and his clothes rolled up and I pulled him out of his car and we went over to the pool hall and he showed me how to play pool and the boy could play.

"When he got called up to Buffalo a couple of years later, he played on a line with Don Luce and myself," Ramsay added. "Of course, one of the great stories is that he's a tough guy. He could fight and he would fight and he could skate and hit, but he scored 30 goals in the National Hockey League. Now try and find a tough guy that scored over 30 goals and it's a very short list."

Dudley played with Ramsay during two stints with the Sabres.

Later, when Dudley was GM with Tampa Bay, he brought Ramsay there to work with coach John Tortorella and they were part of the Bolts' run to the 2004 Stanley Cup.

Ramsay spent the past three seasons as an assistant in Boston. The Atlanta job marks the first traditional head-coaching job for Ramsay.

He does have 49 head-coaching games to his credit, having filled in behind the Buffalo bench at one point during the 1986-87 season and in Philadelphia (filling in for the ailing Roger Neilson for the Flyers' legendary 5OT win against Pittsburgh in 2000 and at times during the 2000-01 season).

Ramsay said he's a big believer in the "safe is death" school of hockey that made Tampa such a formidable team. He knows it will take some time but hopes he can bring that up-tempo, high-energy hockey to the Thrashers.

"We're going to try and make this thing work right, and it's fun to see it build in a city," he said. "I like that. I saw it in Florida [as an assistant with the Panthers], I saw it in Tampa and I've seen it work. It can work."

How the hockey world revolves

For the better part of three decades, Jeff Twohey was a constant with the Peterborough Petes of the Ontario Hockey League. This past offseason, the Petes cleaned house and brought in former NHLer Dave Reid as GM and Mike Pelino as head coach.

Twohey was upset -- hey, who wouldn't be? -- but almost immediately landed on his feet as a scout with the Phoenix Coyotes. Not that GM Don Maloney and Twohey were strangers. Back when the boys were growing up in Lindsay, Ontario, their respective parents were good friends.

When Dave and then Don went off to Kitchener to play major junior hockey, the Twoheys were frequent spectators.

"From that point on, I loved junior hockey," Twohey told ESPN.com on the eve of the draft.

The Maloney brothers helped Twohey get a job at Bobby Orr's famous cottage country hockey camp. Now, Don has helped Twohey once more.

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