Former Toronto owner Harold Ballard was one of the most dysfunctional leaders in all of professional sports, not just the NHL, but David Poile's hint yesterday that an unnamed forward will be signed tomorrow by the Preds reminded me of this famous episode:
...late in Roger [Nielson]'s second season behind the Leafs bench, he was fired by owner Harold Ballard. "We lost in Montreal on a Thursday night. After the game, Harold Ballard told the TV announcers that he was going to fire me. I asked our GM, Jim Gregory, and he said, 'Yeah, you're done,'" Neilson recounted in his biography. The next morning, Neilson showed up at the rink to clear out his office and was surrounded by a horde of sports reporters, but no one from Leafs management was there. "I had to announce my own firing. It was a bizarre situation."
But even more bizarre was the fact that the team hadn't hired a replacement. Although he was fired on March 1, 1979, he was rehired on March 3! During the national anthem of the Saturday night game on 'Hockey Night in Canada,' there was no coach behind the Toronto bench. Roger had resisted a scheme by Ballard to wear a paper bag over his head, then remove it just before the opening faceoff to the astonishment of fans.
Will David Poile call a press conference tomorrow at Bridgestone Arena and bring out a player with a bag over his head, pulling it off to reveal 1999 2nd-round draft pick Jonas Andersson? If so, I really hope they dampen the expectations. Fans in Nashville are hoping for something a little more established than a late-blooming winger who may have found a bit of scoring touch overseas. That didn't work so well with Ben Eaves last fall.
Anyways, that's coming up tomorrow. For now, follow after the jump for your morning news...
What The Puck: An Ode to Dan Ellis
Rachel bids "adieu" to one of the more entertaining Predators in recent years. Dan has been my 8-year-old daughter's favorite Pred, and she's still coming to grips with the fact that he won't be here this fall.
Canadiens Trade Sergei Kostitsyn to Predators | Hockey Independent
George Prax walks us through Sergei Kostitsyn's career so far. Will a fresh start in a new city allow Sergei to fulfill his potential? I have my doubts.
All Habs: Sergei is Moved, So What Went Wrong?
Did Sergei Kostitsyn's downfall in Montreal result from a stormy relationship with Jacques Martin? With Barry Trotz having the reputation as a player's coach, there could be a sliver of hope that he'd fare better in Nashville.
Free-agent analysis: Central Division - NHL Free Agency 2010
If Dan Rosen has reason to believe this (and I doubt he does), then we're truly doomed: "GM David Poile probably feels he got a replacement for Arnott in the deal with the Devils with the return of Matt Halischuk. He's still unproven, however, and it would be hard for Poile to rely on him having a breakout rookie season. That being said, it might just be something Poile has to do given his tight budget."
The Hockey News: John Grigg's Blog: NHL Free Agent Preview: Central Division
I wonder how much John Grigg has really followed the NHL. He starts by looking at each team's available cap space, and writes, "with about $21 million to work with, Nashville is primed to be a big player come July." Umm... I doubt that.
Ryan Suter was also featured over at the NHLPA's website, talking about his influences as a young player, and his favorite things about being a hockey pro:
Around the NHL
The Emporer will be away for a while - KuklasKorner
Send along your best wishes to hockey blogging titan Paul Kukla, who's going through a health issue right now.
An Open Letter to Dan Ellis - Pension Plan Puppets
Toronto fans "welcome" @dellis39 to Montreal...
What Adam Oates Can Bring to the New Jersey Devils as New Assistant Coach - In Lou We Trust
Interesting... the Devils hired one of the all-time great playmakers in NHL history to coach up their power play.
July 1st – Not Much Fun For Sabres Fans | Hockey Independent
See... it's not just Nashville that usually sits on the sideline during free agency.
The Reservoir Of Faith (Puck-Rakers Blog)
...and the Blue Jackets don't appear to be big players on the free agency scene, either, despite coming off "the most disappointing season in franchise history."
Good-bye to Moreau, Nilsson and O'Sullivan? Veteran trio put on waivers. - Cult of Hockey
Could Robert Nilsson fit in with Nashville on the wing this fall? Maybe if they could get him real cheap, but he's not a Top Six forward.
The 10 UFA goalies you'd actually want on your team - Puck Daddy
Chris Mason and Dan Ellis are just two of the prominent goaltenders looking for a job this summer.
Dallas GM does spin control in announcing Modano's departure - Puck Daddy
Mike Modano's time with the Stars organization is approaching an awkward end.
NHL Hart Trophy voters don't think Ilya Kovalchuk is worth the money - Behind The Net
Gabe bangs the drum for Kovalchuk being a huge mistake for whichever team pays him more than $8 million per year on a new contract. Sure he can score goals, but he doesn't really help a team win.
On Special Talents, Patrick Kaleta and Ilya Kovalchuk - Behind The Net
At this rate, I wonder when Ilya Kovalchuk's agent (Jay Grossman) cuts Gabe a check to shut up for a few days.
The Hockey News: What Donald Fehr will mean to the NHLPA and collective bargaining in 2012
The former head of the baseball players' union appears set to lead the NHLPA for the next couple years. Does that mean another lockout is on the horizon?
Prospect Profile: Nino Niederreiter | NHLHotStove.com
Crank up the hype machine... if you didn't realize that the Islanders drafted the next Alex Ovechkin in the #5 spot, this article might convince you.
Igloo Dreams: Drawing penalties while on the penalty kill
When teams are on the PK, which players are able to draw a call and even things up?