There's been so much attention on the Washington-Pittsburgh matchup for next year's Winter Classic (which the NHL still hasn't made official), it seems everyone has forgotten there's another outdoor game next season, as well.
Nothing has been decided for sure, but from what I'm told, the Calgary Flames will host either Montreal or Vancouver in an outdoor game at McMahon Stadium. My money is on the Canadiens beating out the Canucks to be the visiting team.
The tentative plan is for the game to be held the weekend following CBC's "Hockey Day in Canada," so sometime in February. That ensures no outdoor game doubleheader on New Year's Day, something that never made sense to me since there's only one NHL ice plant for the outdoor surface.
Thrashers coaching situation
I'm hearing rumblings Thrashers coach John Anderson might be shown the door in Atlanta. There had been rumors during the season that the team was considering a coaching change.
Star defenseman Tomas Kaberle will be a sought-after commodity when all 30 teams gather in Los Angeles for the NHL draft in June. His no-trade clause will be gone by then and the Maple Leafs will be listening. Other teams should be warned, however, that Toronto isn't giving him away. A Leafs source said they will be asking for a top-six forward and a first-round pick in return for Kaberle, who has one year left on his contract paying him a reasonable $4.25 million. I'm not sure the Leafs will get that return, but there's no danger in setting the bar high and seeing what transpires.
Tomas Vokoun will definitely not be back with the Florida Panthers. He'll be shopped heavily this offseason (perhaps another draft-day deal). He's got a year left on his deal at a $5.7 million cap hit and should be an intriguing chip in play. Lots of goalies will be on the move with more than a dozen potentially hitting the unrestricted free-agent market, led by Marty Turco and Martin Biron. Chris Mason is also UFA July 1, but a Blues source told me Saturday they still hope to re-sign him.
People were speculating over the last 24 hours that Rod Brind'Amour had maybe played his last NHL game since he didn't join the Hurricanes in Boston on Saturday, but Carolina GM Jim Rutherford told me Saturday that Brind'Amour has an abdominal injury. Rutherford said he didn't yet know what Brind'Amour's plans were, but the two would meet in the next 7-10 days to discuss it. The veteran has another year left on his deal at $3 million.
Jackets' coaching situation
The latest from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch:
"[Interim coach Claude] Noel is considered a legitimate candidate, but the Blue Jackets will interview six to eight other candidates, possibly more," wrote Portzline.
"Names to keep in mind: Kevin Dineen, a former Blue Jackets player, currently coach of the AHL's Portland Pirates; Paul MacLean, an assistant coach in Detroit; Brent Peterson, an assistant in Nashville; Kevin McCarthy, an assistant in Philadelphia; Scott Stevens, an assistant in New Jersey; Jim Playfair, former coach of the Calgary Flames; Craig MacTavish, former coach of the Edmonton Oilers; Guy Boucher, coach of the AHL's Hamilton Bulldogs; and Bob Boughner, coach of the junior-level Windsor Spitfires.
"Dineen, who has [previously] turned down at least one NHL coaching job, is believed to be the leading candidate."
Dineen has been knocking at the NHL coaching door for a few years.