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Campbell's Cuts: News and views from around the NHL

The NHL's biggest off-season question is the status of Mats Sundin. (Photo

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The NHL's biggest off-season question is the status of Mats Sundin. (Photo

Some news and views during a time when the biggest story in the hockey world is a tie between Mats Sundin not agreeing to terms with the Vancouver Canucks and Frans Nielsen agreeing to a four-year deal with the New York Islanders:

News: Kontinental League president Alexander Medvedev says it turns out that Nikita Filatov’s contract with CSKA Moscow is valid because, even though it was signed with the old Russian Super League, all contracts were rewritten for the KHL.

Views: If I’m reading this properly, the KHL is talking out of both sides of its mouth.

On the one hand, it is saying that Alexander Radulov’s three-year deal with Ufa was signed July 5, five days before the NHL and KHL came to a formal agreement not to poach each other’s contracted players. They argue, therefore, Radulov’s contract with Ufa is valid, despite the fact he still has a year left on his contract with the Nashville Predators.

On the other hand, it’s saying Filatov’s contract, which was clearly no longer valid after he fulfilled his obligations last season, was suddenly made valid because it was rewritten, presumably without the player’s consent.

Somebody needs to sit down with these guys and explain to them in simple terms, the definition of “binding contract.”

News: Jonathan Toews is named captain of the Chicago Blackhawks, becoming the third-youngest player in NHL history to wear the ‘C’.

Views: There’s nothing to suggest Toews will not be an outstanding captain in the NHL. There are those who question the wisdom of giving a player so young such a prominent leadership role. And while giving the ‘C’ to a 21-year-old Bryan McCabe was a disaster for the New York Islanders, having the extra responsibility didn’t hurt Sidney Crosby, Vincent Lecavalier or Steve Yzerman.

If I were the Hawks, I’d be less concerned about Toews’ age and more concerned how the move might affect rookie of the year Patrick Kane, who is just seven months younger than Toews. My guess is Kane understands and would have no problem with it; otherwise the Hawks wouldn’t have made the move.

News: It turns out Mike Vernon, who was recently named special assistant to de facto Tampa Bay Lightning GM Brian Lawton was the second-biggest investor in the Bear Mountain Resort in Victoria, B.C.

The resort just happens to be owned by Lightning co-owner Len Barrie.

“I couldn’t have done it without him,” Barrie told St. Petersburg Times hockey writer Damian Cristodero.

Views: It appears Barrie is assembling a nice little Old Boys Club with the Lightning. He is obviously beholden to Vernon, who hasn’t held a front-office hockey job in his life. And he’s apparently pals with Darren Rumble, who was recently hired to coach the Lightning’s farm team – the Norfolk Admirals - and Wes Walz, who was recently hired as an assistant coach for the big club.

There’s nothing wrong with surrounding yourself with good hockey people whom you trust and think can do a good job. But hiring friends as business associates is risky. It’s part of the reason why the Phoenix Coyotes have struggled and it’s a good reason why the Mississauga Ice Dogs of the Ontario League were terrible for a number of years, though Don Cherry’s utter incompetence at running a hockey operation certainly had a lot to do with it as well.

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News: Paul Maurice is a frontrunner to replace Ted Nolan as coach of the New York Islanders.

Views: Maurice has received mixed reviews as an NHL coach, but if GM Garth Snow is looking for a company man after his incendiary relationship with Ted Nolan, he will be absolutely delighted with Maurice.

Maurice lasted a long time with not terribly good teams in the Hartford/Carolina organization because he was loyal and did his job without getting involved in office politics. He did the same thing for two years in Toronto before being fired.

Maurice is the kind of coach who takes the players he’s given and makes the best of the situation. If the GM whispers in his ear to expose the young guys to more ice time, he’ll do that. There may be some flaws in Maurice’s coaching style, but being a GM killer certainly isn’t one of them.

News: The Pittsburgh Penguins sign coach Michel Therrien to a three-year contract extension.

Views: The transformation of Therrien from an emotional hothead who sought confrontation in junior hockey and the minors to a very good NHL coach has been a remarkable one.

Therrien has matured into the role and managed to strengthen himself in the X’s and O’s area, which was once the weakest part of his game. He deserves the contract extension and, like Bruce Boudreau, continues to prove that coaches do not have to be Dave King clones in order to succeed.

News: The NHL Players’ Association has its shorts in a knot over the International Ice Hockey Federation’s decision to suspend Radulov, Filatov and four other players pending an investigation into their transfers between the KHL and the NHL.

Views:
Let’s be serious here. All of these investigations will be completed before next season begins, so unless any of these players plan on playing in the World In-Line Hockey Championship, it shouldn’t really interfere with their ability to play internationally.

The IIHF did the right thing by suspending the contracts and the players to play internationally until a full investigation is conducted. The IIHF is the governing body for all transfers between countries and has the right, nay the duty, to ensure they are all conducted properly.

What, the NHLPA would rather have chaos in the marketplace?

Ken Campbell is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Tuesdays and Fridays and his column, Campbell's Cuts, appears Mondays.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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