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Camps haven't opened and there's plenty to talk about

by Phil Coffey

The hockey world lost a great man and a true gentleman with the passing of Max McNab.
Training camps are opening around the NHL, the crew here at is up to its collective eyeballs in season preview material for all 30 teams.

Yep, hockey’s back folks and we’re already burning the midnight oil here at

We’ve got John McGourty and Brad Holland covering the prospects tournament in Traverse City, Michigan, with Frank Marrone shooting all kinds of video. (Plus keeping John and Brad out of trouble.) Shawn Roarke is going to spend a couple days with the NHL officials at their training camp outside Toronto before heading to London to cover the season-opening games between the Ducks and Kings. Not to be outdone, Evan Grossman will be spending a week with the New York Islanders as they train in Eastern Canada.

So, yours truly figured it was time to stop handing out plane tickets and get to work on an abbreviated version of Ice Age.

As a public service announcement, folks can start sending their e-mail rants to as the spirit moves them.

To kick things off, this week we’ll keep it simple and comment on some news from around the NHL.

News: Max McNab passes away at 83.

View: Thanks to Max McNab, I learned a ton about the game of hockey. As the GM of the New Jersey Devils, Max took me under his wing as I was starting out as a hockey writer. His kindness and knowledge of the game made a terrific combination for someone looking to learn more. His passing was profoundly upsetting because they don’t make ‘em like Max anymore.

"I have been blessed by being granted the opportunity to spend 48 years associated with the greatest game of all," Max said when he retired.

Actually, it was those around him who were blessed.

I could type Max stories indefinitely here, but suffice it to say Max was a rare human being and he will be sorely, sorely missed in this corner. I am a better man for knowing Max and I intend to keep that in mind every day. Rest well my friend.

News: Scott Niedermayer undecided on future.

I’m of the opinion that if it’s taking this long to make a decision, then Niedermayer probably doesn’t want to play. But he certainly has earned the right to ponder this until he’s at peace with his decision. Niedermayer can come back and earn a very nice living with the Ducks. But he has won just about everything except the Nobel Prize, so he has to weigh taking the punishment that goes with being in pro hockey with the hunger to win another title. Niedermayer always has been a logical, grounded guy and he has a young family that he would like to see grow up. The pull of family is obvious and should be respected.

”Nieds” could have played the Roger Clemens card here and negotiated himself a deal where he played only home games or whatever. But that kind of arrangement wouldn’t work with a hockey player because, well, he’s a hockey player.

News: Saku Koivu on hot seat.

View: Only in Montreal can a player say his team is good enough to make the playoffs and get in trouble.

But that’s where Saku Koivu finds himself these days after his honest analysis.

"I said that on paper, we're not the favorite to win the Stanley Cup, but I'm very positive we will make the playoffs and from there on, everything's open," Koivu said trying to do some damage control. "In 1993 when the Canadiens won the Cup, no one picked them to win, but they did. That's how I want to see it. We have to focus on what we have here, not on who's not here."

Canadiens GM Bob Gainey has seen and heard it all during his long career as a player in Montreal and had to chuckle about the latest tempest in a teapot.

"Instead of the 40-second clip, he should have gone with the 20-second clip, because if we are in the playoffs six or seven months from now, we will have a chance to win the Stanley Cup and we can evaluate that question at that time."

News: Pierre Turgeon retires.

With 515 goals and 1,327 career points,
Pierre Turgeon seems destined for the
Hockey Hall of Fame someday.
View: Check out these stats – 515 goals and 1,327 points in 1,294 games. Sounds like a Hall of fame career to me. Yep, Pierre Turgeon had quite a career. He announced his retirement Wednesday, saying scoring his 500th goal and being part of the closing ceremonies of the Montreal Forum were his fondest memories. Yep, pretty impressive stuff.

As the Canadiens’ captain in 1996, he carried the torch from the hallowed Forum to the new Bell Centre. Man, it doesn’t get much better than that!

"I keep a very fond memory of the evening when, as the team captain for the Montreal Canadiens, I carried the team torch from the Forum to the Bell Centre."

About the only disappointment for Turgeon, whose older brother, Sylvain, also played in the NHL, was not playing on a Stanley Cup winning team.

"That's something obviously that we're all playing for ... you want to get the Stanley Cup if you can, but everything has got to be in the right place at the right time," Turgeon said.

News: Roenick signs with Sharks.

Jeremy Roenick shouldn’t go out in a whimper. He has been a dynamic player for a very long time and while there are those who say he talks too much, I say we could use a few more talkers like him around the NHL.

Roenick will be a support player for the San Jose Sharks this season, signed by former teammate Doug Wilson, who played with Roenick in Chicago all those years ago.

For Roenick, the last couple seasons have been highly disappointing, first with Los Angeles and then with Phoenix. The Sharks hope that coming to a solid, winning team will turn JR back into the form he showed with the Philadelphia Flyers.

”My motivation is to win a Cup,” Roenick said. “My motivation is to try and gain my respectability as a hockey player back. ... The only reason that I would be playing this year is because of Doug Wilson and the opportunity that he's given me to play with, I think, the best team in the National Hockey League, and have a chance to win a Stanley Cup."

Roenick will come into the season needing only five goals to reach 500 for his career. But Roenick says the chase for 500 isn’t his motivation.

”It's going to be a great bonus, and I will get to that," Roenick said. "But it's not my motivation at all. Middle of summer, I was pretty much content on hanging them up."

He said he plans on keeping quiet too, saying; "It's going to be a quiet year in terms of the verbal side for me."

Now that would be disappointing.

News: Canadiens to retire the numbers of Larry Robinson and Bob Gainey.

View: About time!

Material from personal interviews, wire services, newspaper, and league and team sources was used in this report.



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