Thursday, May 28, 2009

Deja Vu All Over Again?

1) With deference to that line's purported author, Yogi Berra, that's exactly what we have with this year's NHL Finals. Its a repeat of last year's version when the Penguins and Red Wings faced off to determine who will skate away with the Silver chalice.

2) With last night's Game 5 victory by the Wings we have the anticipated rematch. By the way, did anyone ever believe last night's outcome was in doubt? Even without two of the best players the Wings still looked like a machine, rolling over a very good Hawk squad. By the way, look out for that team in up coming years. They are very young, and poised to be a significant power for some time. We would not be shocked to see them play their share of Finals in the next decade.

3) We have to also admit that we were pulling for the Wings last evening. No, not because we are fans of them (or any team for that matter), but IF the series had gone beyond last night we would have been forced to endure a week or so between series as the NHL/Bettman try to contort the schedule to fit NBC's whims. With last night's resolution, we are spared a Super Bowl type layoff, and the games will resume with a manageable 2 day layoff.

4) With our 2 accurate predictions in the last round it brought the FAUXRUMORS playoff series predictions to a very solid 10-4. As for the series it self. No Cinderellas in this year's Finals. Looking back these ARE the Two best teams! We will go through several story lines and then come up with our Cup pick.

  • The Stars: Crosby/Malkin-vs- Datsyuk/Zetterberg. All four are amazing players in their own right. All have greatly contributed to their teams' regular season AND playoff success. The health of Datsyuk is a question going in, but thus far the Wings have won 3 series without too much offensive contribution from their Hart nonimee. Meanwhile, the Pens dynamic duo of Malkin and Crosby are scarily so young and amazingly talented that we are reminded of a similar duo of centers out of Edmonton in the early-mid 80's (Gretzky and Messier). The Wing forwards may have a slight edge in experience/defensive prowess, while their Pitt counterparts are more explosive. Should prove to be an exciting matchup of some of the NHL's best talent up front. Last year we had it even. This time around Advantage: Penguins

  • PP QB's: Nicklas Lidstrom-vs- Sergei Gonchar. Two of the more gifted offensive defensemen in the game. Both are long time NHL vets, with Gonchar playing in his 16th season. 'Gonch' has again elevated his game these playoffs. Not only is he contributing as the team's PP QB, but his defense has been nothing short of excellent. He has previously been overlooked for Norris consideration due to his defensive weakness, but not so anymore. However an injury late in the last round has Sergei playing at less than 100%. Lidstrom is in his 19th season, ALL with the Wings. Might not win the Norris, and but is still one of the best, but like his team mate Datsyuk, and like Gonchar, his health is a question. He is the epitome of what a 2-way defensemen should strive to be; The shut down/reliable defender in his own zone and the team's PP specialist at the other. No one combines/excels at both better. Last year the edge was easily Detroit. With Lidstrom not nearly close to 100% its Advantage: Even

  • The Goalies: Chris Osgood-vs- M.A. Fleury. Last year the story line was 2 disrespected goalies. This year both have earned respect. Certainly as we have written recently, revisiting-osgood-to-hall 'Ozzie' deserves respect if not lauds for his accomplishments. Since replacing Hasek last year he has been a steadying influence and merely done what was asked, win. On his side M-A has played steady goal to help the Pens get back here. As always goaltending will be a factor, but it remains to be seen who will step up their game another notch. Last time around we gave the edge here to Pittsburgh as MA was playing at the top of his game. This time around though we are more inclined to say that this aspect is a toss up. Advantage: Even
  • Secondary scoring: Both of these teams are obviously loaded offensively. Last time around we actually gave Pitt the edge here. However this time around we feel the Wings(largely without Datsyuk's offensive contribution) have won 3 series and not had trouble scoring in any of them. The Penguins offensive depth is as evident and down right impressive. The addition of Guerin and the reemergence of Satan help take the load off the top 2, but the Pens loss coupled with the Wings addition of Hossa has pushed us to say that neither team has the edge here. Advantage: Even

  • Team defense: Here is where Detroit had a stark edge last year. For one, the Red Wings are one of the best puck-possession teams in the NHL. No slap at Pittsburgh's blueliners; They have performed admirably, however they have no answer to the 'other Niklas' back on defense. Kronwall. He has been a difference at both ends of the ice. As important he also has the potential to deliver devastating hits (ask Havlat) and punish opposing forwards in the Detroit zone. We feel he may the key to containing the speedy Penguin forwards by giving them something to fear as they cross the Detroit blueline. That said the Pen defense has impressed us throughout the post season with players like Letang and Scuderi upping their games. Still despite the improved Pens rear guards we still feel the Wings have the better set of defenders, as well as having a group of forwards who are always cognisant of their end. Edge: Detroit

  • The Intangibles: Experience-vs- Youth was the refrain last time. However these Pens are not so wet behind the ears anymore. It can't be forgotten though that despite their second consecutive trip here it is the Wings who are the premiere Spring team. This spring marks the sixth time the Wings have advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals in past 14 years, and have won the Cup four times in their last five appearances. Pavel Datsyuk, Nicklas Lidstrom, Chris Chelios, Kris Draper, Chris Osgood, Tomas Holmstrom and Kirk Maltby played on previous Detroit Cup teams, while Rafalski won two Cups with New Jersey and one with Detroit.(Not to mention all the other players who carried the Cup around last year) On the other side, only Bill Guerin (NJ) and Petr Sykora (NJ), have played on a Cup champion. Edge: Detroit

5) What this series will come down to is what it did last year; will the Redwings be able to play their puck possession game or will Pittsburgh be able to play their up tempo, more wide open style? Regardless of their edge up front, we believe that defense wins championships. As such we see the Redwings as having enough offense and a strong enough defense to stifle the Penguin attack. Certainly NOT entirely, but at least contain it enough to eke out 4 victories. Many more Wings have been here and know what it takes to win. The Penguins are still too young and shown immature streaks/lack of killer instinct at times this post season. This will NOT be a sweep by either team. However, we believe the Penguins time to win will have to be put off at least another season. Detroit in 7

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Hey Gary, Up Here, Are You Listening?

1) Its looking like we're heading toward another Wings-Pens Finals. The only real surprise for us at Fauxrumors is the relative ease in which both teams are dismantling their opponents. Truth be told so far we've been bored. Perhaps we were spoiled by the level of play in the previous round, but so far neither series has had anything compelling to offer. We foresaw a repeat of the 2008 Finals, but figured at least one, if not both series had the potential to go the distance. Instead both may be short (5 games or less) series and this will cause an an apparent issue for the NHL/Gary Bettman. The question is..... Is Gary listening after all?

2) It appears to be so, but it remains to be seen if that's true with respect to scheduling the Finals. The league first announced that IF both series ended by Wednesday evening the Finals wouldn't commence until a WEEK from that Saturday! A whopping and totally insane 9 day layoff! Its not like most folks can't find other activities this time of year to occupy their time. To allow so much time to pass and let hockey escape the consciousness of fans to accommodate NBC TV was beyond dumb. Come on Bettman, what does NBC net the league, like 3 bucks? To do all kinds of contortions to say they have a national TV contract is getting from absurd to bizarre here. Thankfully the response/cacophony of negative press has apparently altered these original plans and the Finals Could begin as early as THIS Weekend, which certainly makes more sense. Of course they will then probably force the teams to play back to back games to placate the network, followed by a 4-5 day layoff! Morons!

3) Meanwhile we hear there may be news from New Jersey with respect to their coach. Brent Sutter has one year remaining on his current contract. He has done a very good job in our opinion. In fact, if not for a late season swoon or sorts he probably would have been our Adams pick having guided his Devils team to an Atlantic title without Brodeur most of the season. This time it may not be the trigger happy Lou Lamarello who will let Sutter go, but Brent may prefer to give up his coaching duties to return to Red Deer and resume his duties in Junior / and or his family farm duties, etc. (There also is a job opening in Calgary and he kinda knows the boss there) Its no secret that Sutter heads back to Alberta whenever possible and isn't found in Jersey any more than he is obligated. Therefore our sources tell us it may be a mutual agreement to allow Sutter to get out of his final year (not being fired and not quitting) of his deal and basically retire from coaching. We hear this may come to a head within the next couple of weeks.

4) In other Devil news (and possibly related) Bobby Holik announced his retirement after a long career that saw the Czech win a few Cups with the team. He stated that he longed to spend more time with family, but our NJ sources tell us to not be shocked to see Bobby pop up behind the Devils bench as an asst some time in the future. "Lou loves the guy, and he's a very intelligent hockey tactician", is what we were told. We don't expect him to be the #1 guy right away, but its a matter of time we believe.
5) Another observation ( and to keep this post Devil filled) is the apparent outlawing of Scott Steven type hits. Another occurred this past weekend in the Wings-Hawks series when Martin Havlat had his bell rung by Niklas Kronwall. It appeared to be totally legal. The puck was at Havlat's feet and Kronwall led with his shoulder into Havlat as the Hawk forward was bending downward with his eyes away not expecting Kronwall's hit. The referee inanely gave him a 5 minute 'interference penalty'. We're sure they would have figured a way to give him a major somehow when Havlat failed to get up right away. Scott Stevens made a hall of Fame career out of such hits. Ask Eric Lindros (well, don't ask him, he probably doesn't even recall his own name these days). Stevens would deliver hits to unsuspecting forwards and level them. Few, if any received penalties. In the "new NHL' he probably would be banned from playing!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Only Crooks Need Apply?

1) This has to be what one comes away thinking with regard to NHL owners who are allowed to be part of the elite 30 individuals who own NHL franchises. Certainly if one looks at who is in charge and who has been implicated/indicted/convicted over the last decade or so that's the conclusion we'd have to make. We posted last year a more detailed list of the various crooks throuh the years in the NHL.

2) In Gary Betman's NHL You falsify documents, you defraud banks, you run shell games with financial institutions, you fake having money, phony documents, a Ponzi scheme, and stealing from the bank his own father started and if you do it well enough, they make you chairman of the board of governors, as in Bruce McNall, etc . Under his watch as commissioner five different NHL owners have gone to jail. Yet for some reason his biggest adversary is someone who has legitimate assets, Jim Balsillie? Only in the upside down world that is the NHL can such stupidity not only be allowed but promoted.

3) One can only assume that the NHL itself is corrupt/not to be trusted if the folks who make up/own it/run it, by and large are crooks themselves. Nothing else can explain this. If someone else can come up with a better explanation we are all ears!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Revisiting Osgood to "The Hall" Argument

1) When we were last asking this question a little over a year ago at this time the wizard-of-osgood was on his way to his 3rd Stanley Cup (2nd as a starter). At that time we discussed the placement of Chris Osgood among the all time best goalies, etc. At the time we came to the conclusion that even if he won another Cup (he did) we still wouldn't place him among the elite or even vote for him to enter the Hall of fame. Our arguments at the time were:

  • His non Detroit numbers were quite ordinary. His non-Detroit win-loss numbers are a quite pedestrian 84-67. Not bad, but hardly Hall of Fame material

  • He has NEVER won a single Vezina trophy as the best goalie, nor even been nominated for that matter.

  • He has never been selected to the end of season NHL First Team All Star Team (second once)

  • Osgood’s career save percentage of 90.6 is very average compared to today’s elite goalies

2) However we have to now alter that opinion somewhat. Actually IF Chris wins yet another Cup we will be right up front and say that he should be elected to the Hall, some might even say he'd be a first ballot entry? For instance:If the Osgood led Wings win another Cup (7 wins away as of this post)

  • He'll be going into his 15th NHL season

  • Osgood will have 4 rings (3 as a starter) As many as Roy, and more than Brodeur.

  • He will have 75 playoff wins. That's 7th all-time! 14 shut outs, (4th all time)

  • He will be closing in on 400 regular season wins (389)10th all-time and has 49 shut outs. With even a poor season next year he will still likely be 8th all time before the season is over!

3) Compare those stats with other Hall of Famers (or presumed HOFers) who have preceded him and it appears Chris has a valid argument to allow him to enter those hallowed halls once his career is over.

  • Billy Smith: 305 wins(.882 save %) 88 playoff wins(4th all time)-4 Cups 1 Vezina. 1 Con smyth. 1 First team all star

  • Grant Fuhr: 403 wins. 92 playoff wins. (5 Cups) 1 Vezina. 1 first team Allstar

  • Ed Giacomin: 289 wins. (54 shut outs) 29 playoff wins. (No Cups) 2 Vezinas. 2 First team Allstar.

  • Curtis Joseph:454 wins (51 shut outs) .904 save % 63 playoff wins (No Cups). No Vezinas, No First team all stars

4) That all said we still believe that reputation may be what keeps him out. Recognition by your peers and by those who covered your era matters. The Vezina goes to the best goalie, the Conn Smythe goes to the Playoff MVP, etc. One of the reasons we believe Osgood will possibly never be inducted into the Hall is that he lacks this recognition or this kind of reputation among his peers, the multiple Cups not withstanding. However if one believes that CUJo is deserving then Osgood HAS to get in as well. Especially since he'll have at least 3 championship rings (possibly 4) on his fingers to CuJo's ZERO. In the end Ozzy may be the best goalie NOT enshrined. (Unless you're a big Tom Barrasso fan. ; ) With each passing season it becomes harder and harder to deny what he has accomplished. We are now believers that he belongs!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Final Four- Analysis/Predictions- Repeat of Last Year?

1) So we're down to 4 teams. Firstly a congratulations to the teams getting this far. Its not easy winning in the playoffs as 12 teams have painfully discovered the past month. We will break down each series and make our predictions as well as mention whom we see as the possible players to make a difference. To review we were 3 of 4 last round. Losing only the Bruins-Canes series. Even here we saw a 7 game series outcome and we weren't disappointed with that aspect of our pick.

2) We were also thinking of doing a separate post on the ramifications of the final 4 coaches. Three of the four did NOT start the season with their teams. Therefore we can foresee next season an even higher turnover than normal as teams (as is usual in the NHL) copy cat previous success/trends. So we would not be shocked to see 1/4-1/2 of opening day coaches NOT make it to game 82! Only Mike Babcock(the Cup winning coach) started the season behind his team's bench.

3) Now on to the series which start today in Detroit:

  • Detroit Red Wings-Vs Chicago Black hawks: The original 6 series as we dubbed it two days ago. We believe this will decide the Cup champs as we believe either of these two teams are superior to the Eastern Conference entries. Its a rematch o the Winter Classic at Wrigley Field, and we can see that game being a microcosm of what this series may be. Fast, exciting, with the Hawks giving the Wings all they can handle and then some, but in the end the Wings winning. Both teams have solid, multiple scoring lines and very mobile puck moving defenses, with the hawks on paper having a slight edge in net. However, the Rodney Dangerfield of goalies, Chris Osgood seems to always make the important save when the team needs it, and one has to acknowledge he has 3 rings(Khabibulin has one himself) Scarily for the Hawks the Wings best player, Pavel Datsuyk has only 1 goal in the first 2 series, yet the Wings are here. All that said, we believe the ultimate advantage for Detroit will be their experience. They collectively have tons more than Chicago who have many players in their first post season. Therefore we see this as being and exciting, skating/scoring filled series determined in the Final game at the Joe. Wings in 7

  • Pittsburgh Penguins-VS Carolina Hurricanes: Certainly neither team can claim to be the lone Cinderella here. As we mentioned last post BOTH weren't suppose to be here now. However of the two most are surprised to tee the Hurricane here. They defeated the 3rd and 1st seeds to advance to the Conference Finals. Another likely story line is the Staal-vs-Staal angle as two of the three Brothers remain, and after all is said and done one will be again playing for the Cup. (Eric won in 2006). No doubt again the Canes will be 'dogs here as well as prognosticators are enamoured with Crosby/Malkin & co ( as they should), but the Canes roster isn't chop liver either. The X-factor this series in our opinion is Cam Ward. The young goalie has simply been the story for his team so far. Probably few know, but Cam has NEVER LOST a playoff series. Going 6-0 thus far in his young career. Including an impressive 3-0 in game 7's. The guy is just clutch. The Pens come into this series feeling they have unfinished business from last year's Finals and feel they are the rightful team to be back to that position again this year. We feel that it will be a close tough series, but in the end the considerable fire power that the Pens have will prevail. Penguins in 7

Friday, May 15, 2009

Original 6 -VS- Cinderella

1)With last night's duel game 7's we have the NHL's version of The Final Four complete. In the West things went right as many expected with the RedWings prevailing, although probably with quite a bit more of a fight from the Ducks than many(other than FAUXRUMORS) expected. They will face off with another 'Original 6' team, the Chicago BlackHawks who defeated the Canucks in 6 games a few days earlier.

2) The NHL has to be pleased as punch with 3 of the 4 teams representing the Final 4. The lone exception has to be the Cinderella Hurricanes who knocked off the top seeded (other original 6 team) Bruins last evening in dramatic fashion. An OT game winning goal by Scott walker late in the first OT sent the (non capacity-?) crowd in the TD Banknorth Garden home disappointed. This coupled with Wednesday's blow out of the Eastern Conference 2nd seed Washington Capitals at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins, this will pit the 4th vs the 6th seeds for the Conference crown starting Monday in Steel town. Ideally we are sure Gary Bettman would have preferred the Bruins against Sid The Kid in the Conference Finals, but the Cinderella Canes just wouldn't cooperate.

3) We will handicap both series in an upcoming post here at Fauxrumors. Overall the NHL has to be pleased that there are no Pacific time zone teams remaining. This means that none of the remaining games will start after 8:00 pm Eastern time for better possible TV ratings. They also have their darling boy(Crosby) still playing. We would surmise that the Canes might soon find out what that means with respect to getting calls as the Caps discovered when they played the Pens last series. When despite the teams being separated by 1 goal scored through 6 games the Pens had a 34-18 PP advantage! As one source kiddingly/graphically told us last week, "If Bettman hands Crosby the Cup you can bet he'll be simultaneously ejaculating". We aren't sure he'll be THAT excited, but the league probably wouldn't mind seeing their Golden boy win. So we have one Original 6 series against 2 teams that weren't even in playoff position a mere 6 weeks prior to the end of the season.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

7th Heaven!

1) That has to be what the NHL and Gary Bettman are thinking this morning. With 3 of the four conference semi final series going the distance the NHL has what it covets most, close playoff series that generate excitement/attention and most important, more money. You see, and many forget this, the players are not paid during the post season. Sure, they get a relatively small (compared with their regular salaries) bonus depending on how far they progress, but the vast majority of the income this time of year goes into the owners pockets.

2) "Its all gravy this time of year, one source told Fauxrumors last night. "Depending on the individual franchises arena agreements it could mean as much as an extra million dollars or more (US) in extra income for each home playoff game." Getting the feel/reason why teams strive so hard to make the playoffs? It could very well mean the difference between red and black ink at the end of the fiscal year. Of course some owners like Capitals owner Ted Leonsis went on record(even before the season ended) that he would still lose money this year. We won't get into the fuzzy math that the NHL/owners have used to push the salary cap, but suffice to say that if Ted isn't making money this season with a sold out Verizon center and at minimum 8 home playoff games then it seems they will NEVER turn a profit!!

3) Now back to hockey:

  • Congrats Hawks: Great job by the upstart Chicago Black Hawks making it to the Conference Finals by beating the Canucks in 6 games. Not a shock to us, for we believed the series would go the distance originally, but later we amended this prediction when we saw the Hawks play and believe that there was no way that the Canucks would be able to hold off the multiple scoring threats the boys from Chicago possess.

  • Boston pushes Canes: Again, no surprise here. We at FAUXRUMORS foresaw this as being a tough long series and never believed either team would skate off with a win easily. Last night the B's looked pretty dam tough to force a deciding game in Beantown tomorrow night. Our money would be on Boston (our original favourite) to take the series, but the Canes have shown everyone that they should not be taken lightly. Loving the Staal-Chara war!

  • Wings and Ducks back to the Joe: With a close/exciting win last evening the Ducks have pushed the Stanley Cup champion Red Wings the distance. Patting ourselves(again) on our backs here as we also predicted this series would go the distance and we will stick with our original favourite, the home town Red Wings to advance to play an All Original Six Conference Final against the Hawks. Of course its a Game 7, so anything is possible.

  • Pens and Caps renew war: This series has lived up to its advanced billing with all the teams' stars playing at their best. Crosby-Ovechkin have both been their teams best players(as it should be). All of the 6 games have been nail biters(3 OT's) No reason to believe tonight will be any different. Despite being home, history is on the side of the Penguins and we believe their slightly more experienced lineup will prevail.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Does Jim Balsillie Now Have "Hand"?

1) The word out of Phoenix is that Jim (Blackberry) Balsillie has made (yet another) offer to buy/move an NHL team. This time he is making no bones about his intentions. Unlike Pittsburgh, then Nashville, where he at first stated he intended to try to keep those troubled franchises in their current locations. This time, seeing an opportunity that is to his advantage, Balsillie swooped in to try to force the hands of the NHL/Gary Bettman who has in the past spurned offers from the Canadian billionaire. This time he is clearly on record of his intentions to move the Coyotes to southern Ontario.

2) Although the NHL is fighting the move it might become mute once all the dust settles/ the bankruptcy hearings takes place. We're told Gary Bettman was livid with Coyotes owner Jerry Moyes' move to declare bankruptcy . Evidently he did it without the NHL's knowledge or consent. Moyes has been courted by Balsillie for some time, but until last week we're told he has not agreed to sit down with him for fear of losing the support he has thus far received from the league. After trying to try to either redo their lease with the city of Glendale or find other investors to buy part or all the team failed, Moyes decided he had little other options to try to recoup the money he invested for the team. The final carrot offered by Balsillie was agreeing to provide $17 million in financing to allow the franchise to keep going in advance of the sale.

3) A few hours after Moyes announced Tuesday that the team had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection—a move that could allow the cash-strapped franchise to be sold and moved to Ontario—the NHL said it would represent the team in bankruptcy court. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said, "We have removed Jerry Moyes from all positions of authority to act for or on behalf of the club". The team’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing included the proposed sale of the franchise to PSE Sports & Entertainment, LP,(Balsillie) which would move the franchise to southern Ontario.

4) From what we have learned/been told this will all come to a head rather quickly. Since the NHL is on the clock (with schedules released in mid July) the decision has to be reached before June 30th. After that the team will either have to play in Arizona as lame ducks, or temporarily be mothballed for a season (not a good option!) Therefore our sources within the NHL and in Phoenix believe that Gary Bettman has little option here. Unless a magical investor with deep pockets surfaces in Arizona very soon, the only viable alternative is Balsillie. Jim, in Seinfeld parlance, indeed has 'hand'!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Caps Ruin our Story line!

1) As we come to Game 3 of the respective series a few observations about the NHL playoffs and some other tid bits we have been hearing/working on.

  • Ruined our headline: The Caps ruined our 'best of 5' theme last night by beating the Penguins in an exciting 1 goal match up to go up 2-0 heading back to Steel town tomorrow night. Every other series is headed to game 3 dead locked at 1, after the lower seeds managed to attain the desired 'split' on the road. In the process making the remaining 3 series a Best of 5, with the lower seeds now holding the home ice advantage.

  • Shortest best of 5: Of the 3 tied series the one that could prove to be the shortest of the three might be the Chicago vs- Vancouver series. Here the Hawks, when they weren't taking penalties, dominated the Canucks at GM Palace. They easily could be coming back to Chicago up 2-0. If not for Luongo, it could have been ugly. Maybe the Canucks will ask Mats Sundin to announce his retirement NOW!

2) Offer he Couldn't refuse: Another story we're working concerns the New York Rangers. From what we've heard Glen Sather informed Markus Naslund during the exit interviews that his roster spot was not going to be guaranteed. That in fact it was likely the soon to be 35 year old Swedish forward would either be dealt, or demoted to Hartford to save cap space. Markus was given that choice or choose to retire with honor. Wanting to return to his homeland and continue to play a few more seasons, Naslund announced his retirement yesterday, freeing up 4 million in cap space for the cash strapped Blue Shirts. Will this move initiate/heat up the inevitable Jagr return rumours? Absolutely one source told FAUXRUMORS late yesterday afternoon. This move was designed for this purpose. 'Slats wants JJ back badly'! Our calls to other sources on this were not immediately returned so we have yet to hear from the other party in this, but from what we have heard towards the end of the season a return to the NHL for Jagr is all but assured and we were told back then to not believe the Edmonton rumors that were widely circulated earlier. Stay tuned folks!

3) Vinny's destination: Another of the big rumors that is undoubtedly going to intensify as the (52)days/weeks lead up to the NHL entry draft in Montreal are the Lecavalier to the Canadiens discussions. Water was throw on that story a couple of weeks ago when both sides vehemently denied that talks are occurring BUT it was confirmed that discussion did take place. A well placed source in Tampa tells us that its almost a done deal that Vinny will not be a member of the Lightning after June 30th. (After that date a no trade clause kicks in, as well as an absurd 11 year 85 million deal-8 mil cap hit) The Habs remain the top contender for Vinny's services, but a source tells us that the Maple Leafs might also be interested. Although they have much less to offer, our source tells us that the Lightning are 'very motivated' so the buyer here could get the super star center at a bargain.

4) Chaos Reigns: Related to the above Lecavalier story is the fact that despite Bettman/NHL denials, financial chaos continues in several NHL cities. Specifically in Phoenix, TB, Atlanta and Florida. The most dire is Phoenix where the NHL was reported to have had to make the team's payroll, and has assumed large portions of the non hockey day to day business of the franchise. Don Maloney and Wayne Gretzky still are making the player personnel decisions, but they have to first go through the league office to make any 'significant monetary decision'. It is entirely possible that the upcoming season in the desert will be their last and a relocation to KC is now closer to reality than anyone will publicly let on.

Stay tuned to FAUXRUMORS throughout the playoffs as we follow these and any other important NHL story, as well as discuss the various series as we get closer to crown a new Cup champion. As always, keep it here for all the latest!

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