Cross Checks: Cristobal Huet
- Joffrey Lupul skated for the first time since separating his shoulder in March and said he is "100 percent," according to the Toronto Star.
- Carolina GM Jim Rutherford tweeted that the team is close to signing Jeff Skinner to a new deal. The extension will be for six years at $5.725 million a season, according to TSN's Bob McKenzie.
UPDATE: Skinner officially signed for six years for $4.35 million in 2013-14 and $6 million each of the five seasons after that.
- The Red Wings expect Tomas Holmstrom to make a decision about next season by the end of the month, Detroit GM Ken Holland told The Detroit News.
- Cristobal Huet's agent is shopping the goaltender to all 30 NHL teams as Huet looks to return to the NHL after playing the past two seasons in Europe, according to The (Vancouver) Province.
- The site plan to build a big-league arena in Markham, Ontario, will be submitted to the city this week, according to TSN. The arena is expected to seat more than 20,000 people, according to the report.
- Nashville radio personality Adam Davis is suing the Predators for injuries he suffered during the rehearsal of a human hockey puck promotion, according to The (Nashville) City Paper.
- The St. Louis Blues shuffled their front office staff, making Al MacInnis special advisor to GM Doug Armstrong and Dave Taylor the vice president of hockey operations, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
- Richard Park signed with HC Ambri Piotta in Switzerland after the Penguins did not offer the center a contract, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
- Former Oilers anthem singer Paul Lorieau was pulled out of Kinbasket Lake near Valemount, B.C., by rescue workers, according to the Edmonton Journal.
- New Jersey officials were not surprised by a lawsuit brought by the four major professional sports leagues and the NCAA against Trenton's plans to allow sports betting, according to NorthJersey.com.
- As the NHLPA waits for more requests for financial documents from the league, commissioner Gary Bettman questioned whether these information requests were "relevant," writes ESPN New York's Katie Strang.
- Patrick Kaleta has had a few run-ins with Steve Ott playing on opposite sides, but now that they are teammates, Kaleta said they have cleared the air, according to The Buffalo News. “I was a little bit nervous ... at first, but I met [Ott] and we buried the hatchet right away,” Kaleta told the paper.
- Goaltender Cristobal Huet is eager to return to the NHL have playing in Europe for the past two season, according to NHL.com.
- Manny Malhotra will support Patrick Burke's You Can Play Project by marching in Vancouver's Pride parade. Malhotra is following in the footsteps of teammates Ryan Kesler and Daniel and Henrik Sedin who have also worked with the organization, according to the Vancouver Sun.
- The Philadelphia Flyers agreed to a two-year extension with head coach Peter Laviolette, which will keep him behind the bench through the 2014-15 season.
Neither Sheehy nor the Detroit Red Wings would comment on or confirm the Detroit News report that Wings GM Ken Holland flew to Madison, Wis., to meet with Suter in person.
Meanwhile, Wade Arnott, agent for Zach Parise, told ESPN.com at 6 p.m. ET that it was unlikely a decision would be made Tuesday night, although he didn't totally close the door on it.
The wait continued Tuesday morning, as Zach Parise and Ryan Suter contemplated the biggest decisions of their hockey lives.
Parise was slated to fly back to his native Minnesota on Tuesday, and it wasn’t clear when he’d have a decision made, although a source close to him thought sometime Tuesday was a probability.
Likewise, Suter remained undecided.
"When a young man is asked to commit for 13 years, why is it considered extraordinary to take a few days to make a decision? A deal will happen when it happens," Suter’s agent Neil Sheehy told ESPN.com via email Tuesday morning.
While the hockey world waits on Parise and Suter, other unrestricted free agents also wait. Matt Carle is the top UFA defenseman after Suter, and you have to think it won’t take long after Suter signs for Carle to also agree to terms with one of the teams that swung and missed on Suter.
I like Carle a lot as a player. He’s going to be a terrific consolation prize for a Suter suitor. And so, the Carle camp sits and waits.
"Patience is a critical component of this process, and we have plenty of it," Carle’s agent, Kurt Overhardt, told ESPN.com via email Tuesday morning.
- Forty-year-old Jaromir Jagr has garnered lots of attention as well. His agent, Petr Svoboda, told ESPN.com Tuesday morning that he was hoping to have his future-Hall of Fame client signed with a team by the end of the week.
- A source close to the Rick Nash situation told ESPN.com Tuesday morning that there is still nothing imminent on the trade front. Of course, Parise still hadn’t signed yet either, which is the moment the Blue Jackets were waiting for to get the ball seriously going again on that front. The suitors, I think, remain the Rangers and Sharks and potentially the Hurricanes. Carolina is not on Nash’s "list," but the Canes would love to get Nash and they’re hoping he’ll change his mind. If I’m Rick Nash, I give Carolina some thought. The Canes are a team on the rise with good young talent and, of course, the recent Jordan Staal acquisition.
- Once Parise signs, the Bobby Ryan trade talks should also heat up in Anaheim. He’s a cheaper contract to absorb than Nash, so the Ducks could really jam things up for Columbus. I still think the Flyers love Ryan. I think Anaheim wants to try to recoup a second-line center in any deal for Ryan.
- Cristobal Huet, remember him? He’s a UFA and he’s willing to come back to the NHL on bargain dollars as a backup. I’d take a chance on him. It just so happens the Winnipeg Jets still need to find a backup goalie to replace Chris Mason. I’d be all over Huet if I were the Jets.
There are members of last season's Stanley Cup champions sprinkled all over the NHL, namely in Atlanta, San Jose and Toronto, but there's also one in Switzerland.
Cristobal Huet, part of the Chicago Blackhawks' salary-cap purge, has adjusted to life back in the Swiss League, where he played eight years ago before making the jump to the NHL.
"Things are not bad," Huet told ESPN.com on Thursday over the phone from Switzerland where he's now playing goal for Fribourg-Gottéron in an arena that holds 7,000 people.
If you know Huet, you know he'd say that even if he was in the middle of an earthquake. He's not a complainer. He took his demotion without rocking the ship last season when Antti Niemi replaced him as starter for the Hawks. And he then accepted his move across the ocean this past summer when the Blackhawks, as widely expected, dumped his $5.625 million salary.
That was a tough blow to his pride.
"It was hard this summer," said Huet, whose salary is still mostly paid by the Hawks. "But that's something I dealt with then. I'm trying to make the most out of my situation now. I enjoy playing hockey here. We have some great guys and some great fans. I'm just trying to enjoy the game."
Somehow Huet just never fit in Chicago. After establishing himself as a solid starting netminder in Montreal, including a posting a .929 save percentage with the Habs in 2005-06, he never really got going in the Windy City after signing a four-year, $22.5 million deal in the summer of 2008.
"It probably wasn't my best years in Chicago," said the 35-year-old Huet. "It's good for me to play more now and feel good about myself."
The irony isn't lost on anyone; the man who bumped Huet out of the Hawks' net is no longer there, either, as Niemi went to San Jose after Chicago walked away from his salary arbitration award.
"They were in a tough situation, everyone knows that," Huet said of the Hawks. "They had to trade players and make moves they probably didn't want to make, and Antti was one of those guys."
I asked Huet if, looking back, he thought he got a fair shake in Chicago.
"It's hard to say," he said. "We won [the Cup], so the coaching staff and management did a great job. I was on the wrong side of it, on the personal end, but still it was a great experience to win in Chicago. It doesn't change the way I feel about myself."
He believes he still has the game to be an NHL goalie. But since the Hawks are still on the hook for another year next season at $5.625 million, he's likely stuck in Europe until the team buys him out.
"I don't know what Chicago's intentions are for next year," said Huet, who went 26-14-8 with a 2.50 GAA last season in Chicago. "I'll probably be in the same situation with my salary and not playing in the NHL. It's really not up to me, but we'll see what happens next year."
For now, he's making the best of being back in Switzerland, where he tended goal for four seasons before heading to Los Angeles in 2002. While he's a native of France, Huet married a Swiss woman, so the move made sense on the personal side of things. He also obtained his Swiss passport earlier this week.
"That's important for our team because we can only use four imports per team," explained Huet. "That makes a big difference if you can have good imports."
The shorter schedule also makes it less of a grind.
"Well, I'm home every night and sleeping in my bed," he said. "That's the good part of it. But at the same time, I'd rather be playing in the NHL."
No Russia for Gretzky
Reports surfaced overnight out of Russia that SKA St. Petersburg, which fired its coach this week, was hoping to lure Wayne Gretzky behind its bench. Forget about it. While The Great One is indeed friends with SKA chairman and KHL president Alexander Medvedev, Gretzky told ESPN.com via text message late Wednesday night there was no chance of him coaching in Russia.