PRINCE OF PUCKS: Wild rumors abound

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At home in Prince Edward Island, Canada, he's known as Lyle Richardson. But around these parts, he's known as Spector, FOXSports.com's Prince of Pucks. Check in with Spector for the latest NHL rumors from around the league. And feel free to let him know what you think. With the Christmas trade deadline fast approaching (Dec. 19), the rumor mill is churning much faster. Quite frankly, some of what's being reported has me choking on my rum-laced egg-nog. How about that supposed five-player swap involving the Philadelphia and Calgary ? Various media sources claim the will ship goaltender and wingers and to the in exchange for goalie and (drum roll, please) . What's the basis for this deal? For starters, the have cooled significantly after a red-hot start to the season. Despite his decent stats, Cechmanek apparently is a cancer in the dressing room. Gagne is struggling this season, while the highly touted Brendl has yet to blossom into the superstar he was expected to become. Meanwhile, the are in worse shape than the , in danger of falling out of the playoff hunt by the New Year and apparently with no long-term replacement for recently fired head coach Greg Gilbert in sight. Iginla and Turek are carrying hefty contracts this season (combined salaries: $9.5 million), and neither player is earning those salaries with their sub-par performances this season. Thus, we come to the logic of this "deal." The dump salary, obtain a better goalie in Cechmanek, a good scoring forward in Gagne, and in Brendl receive a youngster returning to the city where he spent his high-flying junior career. The , meanwhile, obtain an emerging superstar in Iginla, whose scoring stats are bound to shoot through the stratosphere playing on the big-name Flyer forward lines, and a capable, more affable netminder in Turek. Call me cynical, or given the season, call me Scrooge, but I say, "bah, humbug" to this! First of all, a deal of this magnitude never gets leaked to the press. Deals of this type are never seen coming, and when they hit the press, send the hockey world reeling. Second, the , for all their deep pockets, have put a limit on their spending over the past year. Anyone remember the eyebrows that were raised last summer when they refused to belly up to the free-agent trough as usual? This deal would raise their payroll by over $3 million. That goes against their new policy of fiscal responsibility. Cechmanek's relationship with his teammates may be contentious, but does anyone really believe Bob Clarke would exchange him for a goalie with less impressive stats like Turek? And we're to believe Brendl will step up his game if he returns to play in the city where he played his junior hockey? Folks, that's such a stretch you'd need to be made of elastic to reach it! Maybe Brendl is a late-bloomer and may one day develop into a scoring star, but in the scheme of things, the last thing the need is to take on a "project" and hope they can make it work out. Remember, the last "reclamation" project was former top draft pick , and he's spending his time in the minors . . . again. Most important, consider the impact this deal would have on the . Despite his struggles this season, Iginla is seen as their franchise player. Moving him, after re-signing him to a two-year deal, would send the wrong signal to their long-suffering fans, that of their club as nothing more than a glorified minor-league feeder system to their big-market brethren. To do such a deal, with the club already in turmoil, could be the final straw for NHL hockey in Calgary. Speaking of "major deals," would you believe that supposed blockbuster between the Colorado and Boston involving holdout Kyle McLaren is being kept alive by some in the press? Some in the media are claiming this deal (to refresh your memories, it's McLaren and overpaid checking forward to the Avs in exchange for winger , blueliner and tough-guy ) could be done before or after the Christmas trade freeze. Why wasn't this trade made? Because, if the rumors are to be believed, the wanted to shop around and see if anyone could match or beat the 's offer. Sorry, folks, but being my crusty ol' cynical self, I'm not buying it. Think of every major deal ever made by Avs GM Pierre Lacroix. Did you see the trade coming? Or the Ray Bourque acquisition? Or the deal? Of course you didn't, because Lacroix doesn't like to tip his hand to anyone, least of all the media, when it comes to major deals. Sure, there were whispers this past summer of his interest in , but no one anticipated the number of players involved in that trade. And only one or two media wags actually got it right when they said , not , would head to Calgary in exchange for Morris. It's difficult to believe a quiet dealer like Lacroix would allow such a blockbuster to be leaked to the press. In fact, I'm willing to wager if he did make this offer to the , he would've warned his Boston counterpart that, if word of this got out, the deal would be off. Let's boil this one down to one simple fact: If this trade were to have gone down, it would've happened two weeks ago. I don't know about you, but I doubt the would get a better offer than Tanguay and Skoula to take a disgruntled holdout and an overpaid grinder off their hands. This wasn't the only absurdity making the rounds in recent days. Take, for example, the rumors swirling about the Washington . The Caps ownership and management publicly expressed their displeasure over their roster's lackluster performance. Owner Ted Leonsis and GM George McPhee claim they'll look into making a major deal to shake things up if the club doesn't improve soon. Naturally, this has given rise to wild speculation. One rumor had the Philadelphia planning to deal Cechmanek to Washington for . Another making the rounds claims the are willing to entertain offers for wingers and . The Kolzig speculation is bunk. The Caps aren't going to move the man who won the Vezina in 2000 and carried them to the Cup Finals in 1998. That's more than Cechmanek can lay claim to. As for Bondra and Jagr, the former could be shopped around to bring in some badly needed blueline depth, but don't expect Jagr to be going anywhere. His $11 million contract makes him practically untradeable. Finally, there's the tripe being offered up by my favorite rumor-monger, the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch. Turns out our man Bruce came up with a dandy involving his and the N.Y. . He claimed the teams were working on a potential four-player swap that would see his favorite whipping-boys, center and winger , dealt to the for winger and grinding center . He claimed the Isles coveted Bonk and would have no qualms with absorbing his two-year, $6.7 million salary. However, Garrioch hedged his bet on this one by stating the deal could be in danger because of the improved performance of Isbister. Excuse me for playing "The Grinch Who Stole the Trade Rumor," but there are a few points that poke this one full of holes. How many first-line centers do the have? How many of their present centers can step in and fill the role if Bonk is indeed sent to the Isles in this trade? Does step in? Does Scatchard if he joined the Sens in this trade? Does fill the bill? Or ? I think you get the drift. Unless the Sens can get a quality first-or-second line center in exchange for Bonk, he remains in Ottawa. This deal simply wouldn't make sense. And no, young wouldn't be the guy to take over Bonk's role. He's got potential, but he's not ready yet to shoulder the burden of a first line center. And who says the can easily absorb Bonk's salary? The combined salaries of Isbister and Scatchard ($3.5 million) are just over Bonk's $3.2 million. Figure the Isles probably wouldn't be able to re-sign impending unrestricted free agent Arvedson, and now you've given up depth by dealing two players — one a heart-and-souler in Scatchard, the other a promising power forward in Isbister — for a center who is criticized by some as a "floater." One of these days, Garrioch is actually going to report a rumor that will come true. And when that day happens, I'll be the most shocked hockey fan in North America. He reminds me of that old fable about the boy who cried wolf. In this case, he's the hockey reporter who cried trade. Check out Spector's hockey page and buy his book.
Tagged: Robert Dome, Bruins, Flames, Blackhawks, Islanders, Senators, Flyers, Penguins, Avalanche, Capitals, Kyle McLaren, Derek Morris, Dave Scatchard, Brad Isbister, Todd White, Radek Bonk, Simon Gagne, Chris Drury, Scott Parker, Alex Tanguay, Martin Skoula, Jaromir Jagr, Olaf Kolzig, Jarome Iginla, Mike Fisher

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