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Ch-ch-ch-changes

If Joe Sakic returns for a 20th NHL season, he'll find himself in the midst of a rebuild in Colorado. (Getty Images)

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If Joe Sakic returns for a 20th NHL season, he'll find himself in the midst of a rebuild in Colorado. (Getty Images)

It’s mailbag time – and by now I’m sure you know the routine. If you don’t see your question here, check out the mailbag feature in The Hockey News magazine and listen to it on the THN Radio Show on XM Home Ice Channel 204.

Adam, I think over the off-season, instead of just taping it on, grow in a full Fu Manchu. But I digress...

Thanks in part to the wild success on and off the ice the Blackhawks have had, and with his business acumen, do you see Rocky Wirtz becoming one of the stronger and more influential governors in the country club? And if so, does his extremely public backing of hockey on ESPN make it any more likely to happen by 2009-10?
Steve, Freeport, N.Y.


Steve,

First, let’s deal with your digression. I am at once outraged, shocked, mortified and bewildered by the obvious lack of attention you’ve paid to my previous statements regarding my inability to cultivate large pockets of hair on my face. Let’s hope stem-cell research gives me some options so we can avoid uncomfortable moments like this in the future.

Moving on, I think it is rapidly becoming one of the NHL’s great ironies to see the son of Bill Wirtz evolve into a main proponent of the league moving back to the planet’s pre-eminent sports channel.

That said, neither Wirtz nor anybody else will be able to do much about getting the NHL back on ESPN – at least to the degree I believe you’re suggesting – for the beginning of the next regular-season.

The main stumbling block there is they’re locked into a contract with Versus until 2011 – meaning, unless Jim Balsillie buys that network (hmmmmnnnnn…), that partnership will remain intact.

Hey Adam, With Joe Nieuwendyk as Dallas’ new GM, what can we expect? Is he the right man for the job instead of “Ambassador of Fun” Brett Hull?
Stephanie LaGrant, Delhi, Iowa


Hey Stephanie,

Nieuwendyk’s hiring shouldn’t result in many differences right off the hop. Former co-GM Les Jackson still will be doing much of the heavy lifting in terms of prospect identification and development while his replacement re-familiarizes himself with the Stars organization, leaving little potential for wholesale change.

Then again, why you’d want wholesale change made to this team is beyond me. Considering the drama and injuries that befell Dallas last season, their strong-ish finish to the year ought to reassure Stars fans that challenging for a playoff spot, and much more, will be goals well within the team’s grasp next season.

Adam, The Edmonton Oilers continue to sign players to entry level contracts this spring, but what about Rob Schremp? That kid was supposed to be the next big thing a few years ago and all he’s done is rot in the minors.

Is there a chance he'll see the big leagues permanently? Or is there a chance he could be dealt to another NHL team? I really hope to see him as a full-time Oiler this season.
Paul Hamilton, White Fox, Sask.


Paul,

Schremp will be a restricted free agent this off-season, a fact that, given the prospect of a shrinking salary cap maximum and the need for some type of serious change to the Oilers roster, might result in GM Steve Tambellini allowing another team to take him off Edmonton’s hands.

Schremp might also be part of any trade Tambellini completes. Of course, if other Oilers get shipped out, Schremp may get his best – if not last – shot at an NHL career in Edmonton.

But time is running out on him – yes, even at the age of 23. Sometimes the perks and accolades that come with being a first-round pick also can come back to haunt a player and eventually curtail the number of opportunities he’ll get with the team that drafted him.

Hello Mr. Proteau, I am a Colorado Avalanche fan and I am wondering, will the Avs management hit the self-destruct button and start from the ground up, or keep with their old ways and sign 30-something-year-old free agents every year like the Leafs did pre-lockout?
Braydon de Liberato, Kingsville, Ont.


Hello Mr. de Liberato,

You sent this question prior to Colorado’s slew of management moves this week, but it seems clear to me that, by choosing two men (Greg Sherman and Joe Sacco) as GM and head coach who have no NHL experience in those roles, Avs president Pierre Lacroix is acknowledging this team’s rebuild won’t happen in a matter of weeks or months.

Therefore, unless Sherman can pull off some miraculous moves this summer, senior Avs statesmen such as Joe Sakic, Milan Hejduk and Ryan Smyth may have to do some serious soul-searching this off-season and decide whether or not they wish to be part of the process.

Ask Adam appears Fridays on TheHockeyNews.com. Proteau also answers readers' question in every issue of The Hockey News magazine and on The Hockey News Radio Show every Friday from 3-4 p.m. EST on XM Radio channel 204. To send us your question or comment, click HERE.

Adam Proteau is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Mondays, his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.

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

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