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Oh captain, my captain

Lyle Richardson
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Patrick Marleau, who scored 71 points in 76 games for the Sharks last year, recently lost the captaincy. (Photo by Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images) Author: The Hockey News

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Oh captain, my captain

Lyle Richardson
By:

• After more than two months of silence, Ottawa Senators left winger Dany Heatley finally spoke to the press last week regarding the reason behind his trade request, but his claim of a diminished role with the team hasn’t garnered much sympathy from pundits, bloggers and fans. 

Many in the media accused Heatley of selfishness, which has not only tarnished his reputation, but also his market value.

Senators GM Bryan Murray insisted he’ll continue trying to fulfill Heatley’s request, while the winger said he’ll report to training camp if he’s not dealt by then.

Some observers still believe there’s a 50-50 chance Heatley will be moved before the start of the season, but his no-movement clause and expensive cap hit ($7.5 million per season) isn’t easy to shop at a time of year when most teams have already committed much of their available cap space.

In today’s salary cap environment those contracts simply aren’t moved late in the off-season or early in the regular season. You’d have to go back to November 2005, during the NHL’s first season under the current CBA, to find trades (Sergei Fedorov, Joe Thornton) of that magnitude. The absence of similar early-season deals since isn’t a coincidence.

• San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan’s recent statement concerning his team’s lack of a captain heading into training camp raised eyebrows around the league, as well as questions regarding former captain Patrick Marleau’s future with the team.

Marleau claimed he was OK with the decision, stating he wanted to do whatever possible to help the Sharks win the Stanley Cup, but refused to comment about any willingness to waive his no-trade clause.

"I'm not going to make that public," Marleau told the San Jose Mercury News. "If that were ever to come up, then it's something I would have to decide. But I don't want to speculate on whether it could or might happen."

The Mercury News noted that statement stands in contrast to goaltender Evgeni Nabokov saying weeks ago he’d waive his clause if management approached him.

This will likely stoke internet-based speculation of Marleau being traded in the coming weeks, but folks shouldn’t read too much into it.

Marleau is in the final season of his current contract which pays him more than $6 million, but that won’t make his salary any easier to move, even if he agreed to be dealt.

It’s not surprising Marleau agreed to relinquish the captaincy; last month he told Sharks GM Doug Wilson he’d be willing to do so.

Marleau seems determined to help the Sharks win the Cup. And given his potential free agency status next summer, probably knows this could be his last best chance to do so with the Sharks.

As for Nabokov’s willingness to waive his clause if asked, don’t expect Wilson to make that request. There simply aren’t any goaltenders of Nabokov’s caliber available either via trade or free agency, nor is there anyone within the Sharks system able to step up and replace him.

If the Sharks are serious about winning the Stanley Cup this season their chances are better with Nabokov than without.

• Former Montreal Canadiens winger Alex Tanguay remains the most talented player still available in this summer’s unrestricted free agent market, but he may not hold that distinction much longer.

Tanguay has been linked with the Tampa Bay Lightning for some time, but while Bolts management remains interested the Minnesota Wild has emerged as a potential challenger.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune quoted Ritch Winter, Tanguay’s new agent, as saying the Wild is very much on their radar, having had discussions with Wild GM Chuck Fletcher.

It remains to be seen what kind of contract Tanguay is seeking, but it’s believed he might have to accept a one-year deal. Barring another player move to free up salary, Lightning GM Brian Lawton suggested his club will not be increasing its offer.

According to Toronto GM Brian Burke, one team that isn’t interested in Tanguay is the Maple Leafs.

Winter claimed he was talking to other teams about Tanguay, but at this point it seems to be between the Lightning and Wild. It’s possible a decision could come this week.

Rumor Roundup appears Mondays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Foxsports.com and Eishockey Magazine.

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Oh captain, my captain