Some random thoughts before I buckle my seatbelt for the trade deadline.
Mats staying put -- Just like that, tens of thousands of trade rumors … gone!
Mats Sundin has told the Maple Leafs he is going to finish the season in Toronto and won’t waive a no-trade clause. So, just like that, the trade rumor mill has taken a shot amidships.
"I have always believed I would finish my career as a Toronto Maple Leaf so the actual request was still a very difficult one for me to contemplate," Sundin said in a statement released by his agent J.P. Barry on Sunday night. "I have spoken to and listened to my family and those closest to me about this issue. In the end, there is no right decision in a situation like this one.
"I cannot leave my teammates and join another NHL club at this time," Sundin added. "I have never believed in the concept of a rental player. It is my belief that winning the Stanley Cup is the greatest thing you can achieve in hockey, but for me, in order to appreciate it you have to have been part of the entire journey and that means October through June. I hope everyone will understand and respect my decision."
Leafs interim GM Cliff Fletcher asked Sundin if he was willing to move on late last week.
"He advised us that he's staying where he is, which is his contractual right, and that at this time he's not interested in entering into a deal for next year," Fletcher told The Canadian Press.
Kings Of The Castle -- The Northwest Division has a new leader.
So does the Eastern Conference.
Miikka Kiprusoff’s 38 saves on Sunday afternoon helped the Calgary Flames beat the Minnesota Wild for the fourth consecutive time in a 2-1 victory at the Xcel Energy Center. The win gives the Flames sole possession of first place in the Northwest and the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference.
"It's crazy. Every game is huge, and I think that's how it's going to be the rest of the year," Kiprusoff said after his team was outshot 39-16 by the Wild. "We can't worry too much about other teams. We just have to keep winning."
Meanwhile, John Madden’s goal with 50 seconds remaining in overtime put the New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference’s driver seat for the first time since 2001 with their 2-1 win over the Washington Capitals. Martin Brodeur made 37 saves for the Devils, who jumped ahead of the idle Ottawa Senators for the No. 1 seed. The Senators host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday night.
“We’re definitely proud of what we’ve accomplished,” Madden said. “But at the same time, we’ve got to move forward.”
Welcome Back, Captain -- They didn’t get the result they were hoping for, but the Colorado Avalanche must have been doing mental cart-wheels Sunday night with the return of their captain, Joe Sakic.
The 38-year-old played 15:24 and had an assist in a 3-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place. Sakic missed the previous 38 games -- the longest absence of his career -- and had a hernia operation on Dec. 28.
Speaking like a true captain, Sakic was much more concerned with his team blowing a two-goal lead than his return to the ice.
”You can't give up games like this,” Sakic said. “The good thing for us is that from here on out, most of our games are divisional games and teams we have to catch and we have to beat those teams. Games like this though, you can't afford to lose these.”
Colorado coach Joel Quenneville agreed, but he was pleased nonetheless from what he saw of his captain.
“Joe looked good,” Colorado coach Joel Quenneville said. “Joe had some good energy. He skated well, I thought. He played well.”
Retirement Can Wait -- After spending the first few months of the season debating his future, it looks like Teemu Selanne made the right choice when he decided to return to the defending Stanley Cup champs.
Selanne posted his 20th career hat trick Sunday night in Anaheim’s 6-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks at the Honda Center. He also passed the great Maurice "Rocket" Richard for 25th on the all-time goals list.
"I had some really good chances," Selanne said. "It was good to see those pucks go in. I got some great passes, so that made the job way easier."
Yes, indeed … it appears Selanne isn’t ready just yet to spend his days doing crossword puzzles and driving miles and miles with his turn signal on. With Sunday’s win, the Ducks improved to 9-1-0 since he returned to the lineup.
Retirement can wait.
"Teemu scored some goal-scorer goals," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. "He’s had lots of chances. Tonight it was fortunate enough for him and us that he found the back of the net. We’ll take them. I thought on the offensive side he was pretty dynamic."
Cheech-Ching! -- Take note, NHL: Jonathan Cheechoo is regaining that scoring touch that helped him find the back of the net 56 times in 2005-06 and 37 times last season.
Cheechoo ended 43 minutes of scoreless hockey in the third period, then scored again in the shootout as the San Jose Sharks picked up a 2-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins at Mellon Arena on Sunday. Entering the game, Cheechoo had been 0-for-3 in the shootout.
His third-period tally gave him goals in three straight games and four in his last five. He now has 18 on the season.
"We came out and got a lot of shots. We were able to dictate play," Cheechoo said.
The victory helped San Jose remain only three points behind the Anaheim Ducks for second place in the Pacific Division.
“You look at the standings and you see how important it is to get every single point possible, especially on this road trip,” Sharks center Jeremy Roenick said. “You can go from fifth to 11th in one bad week.”
Here I was thinking that only Ruben Studdard could fade that quickly.
Making A Statement -- In a game involving teams headed in what appears to be opposite directions, the New York Rangers made sure there wouldn’t be a letdown as they pummeled the Florida Panthers at Madison Square Garden.
”If we're going to play like we know how to play, our confidence should be really high because we can play against anybody,” said Blueshirts defenseman Marek Malik, who ended a 32-game scoring drought.
The Rangers made a statement that they want to not only make the playoffs, but climb the conference standings. Malik – who has been a healthy scratch 15 times this season and missed another 17 games due to a back injury – made a statement that he wants to be a part of it all.
”When he has gone in to play, with the exception of half a dozen games, he has a been a good player for us,” Rangers coach Tom Renney said of Malik. “He has been a great player lately.
”I'm obviously happy when anybody scores,” Renney added, ''but there are those moments in a season when you're cheering real hard for somebody inside.”
Already Better Than Last Year -- We still have more than a full month remaining on the NHL schedule, but with Sunday’s 2-0 win over the St. Louis Blues, the Phoenix Coyotes eclipsed last season’s win total, when they recorded only 30 victories.
But Wayne Gretzky’s club wants much more. It wants to be in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the worst way. If the Coyotes continue to receive the type of performance like the one Ilya Bryzgalov (35 saves) put forth on Sunday night, there’s nothing to suggest they won’t make it.
”We're right there, right in the race,” said Coyotes forward Joel Perrault, who scored one of the team’s two goals. “We know what we have to do and how many games we have to win to get in the playoffs.”
Contact Brian Compton at: email@example.com.