Concerns over Tim Connolly, criticism could continue to dog Kevin Bieksa, Mike Fisher returns to Ottawa, the Winnipeg Jets could be headed to the Central division, the reasons why the Oilers traded Andrew Cogliano, and former Canadiens captain Vincent Damphousse’s legal troubles.


TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons reports new Maple Leafs center Tim Connolly has, despite his obvious skills, never fulfilled expectations during his 11-year NHL career, suggesting his move to Toronto will either be “a grand new beginning or a painful end”.

“That’s the question I would have with Connolly?” an NHL executive said, being told the story “The talent is still there. But is the commitment level there? Is the willingness there? That we’ll find out. Toronto didn’t make a bad move here. They did the only thing that was available to them. So here comes the opportunity for Connolly but with it goes accountability. That’s the part I wonder about, that’s the part everybody wonders about. I think Brian Burke and Ron Wilson will have their hands full here.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I noted when Connolly was signed by the Leafs, Burke really didn’t have much choice. There wasn’t many options for first line centers available in this year’s UFA market, and nothing available via trade, but Burke simply couldn’t go into the next two seasons without a first line center. Leafs fans will simply have to hope for the best.


VANCOUVER PROVINCE: Gordon McIntyre reports via the blog “The White Towel” no one besides Roberto Luongo is more of a divisive figure on the Canucks than defenseman Kevin Bieksa, but noted Bieksa and Dan Hamhuis formed one of the best shutdown defense tandems in the league, and it bodes well for the Canucks to have both under contract through 2015-16. McIntyre however suggested the criticism of Bieksa will only intensify under his new contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Bieksa plays as well throughout his new contract as he did last season, it’ll silence his critics, at least those among Canucks fans who a year ago were calling for him to be dealt.


OTTAWA SUN: Don Brennan reports former Senators center Mike Fisher will be returning to Ottawa for the first time since he was dealt to the Nashville Predators in February.

“Fisher will be making his first return to Ottawa when he arrives Wednesday evening and goes directly to Roger’s House, where he’ll be recognized for his years as the honourary chairman of the “home away from home” for kids with cancer and their families.

Taking over Fisher’s role at the CHEO institute built in memory of late coach Roger Neilson will be longtime friend and Senators teammate Chris Neil.”

Fisher is also in the process of selling his Ottawa area home, which he and his wife, country star Carrie Underwood, had only lived in for a couple of months until he was dealt.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fisher was truly one of the good guys on the Senators and gave a lot back to the community. He’ll be missed there.


WINNIPEG SUN: Ted Wyman reports it appears the reborn Jets will be moving to the Central Division following the upcoming season.

“Wild owner Craig Leipold confirmed the plan to KFAN Sports Radio 1130 in Minneapolis recently.

“The realignment will almost certainly take place,” Leipold told the radio station. “There aren’t any people saying ‘No, let’s not do it.’ It’s been teed up by the league and it would be a four-division league.

“I am all in favour of that. I think that is a grand slam home run, hat trick for our team.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Wyman points out, it also favors the Jets, giving them more games against Western Canadian teams. I don’t think anyone’s surprised by Leipold’s comments, as it’s been long believed the Jets would move to the Central, and either the Detroit Red Wings or Columbus Blue Jackets would move to the Eastern Conference.


EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson reported the reasons why Andrew Cogliano was dealt on Tuesday to the Anaheim Ducks for a 2013 second round pick:

“Too many players, no chair for Edmonton Oilers’ centre Andrew Cogliano, who was dealt to the Anaheim Ducks Tuesday for a second-round draft pick in 2013. The signing of third-line, strong faceoff guy Eric Belanger on July 1, the arrival of Anton Lander from Sweden, the good work by farmhand centres Chris Vandevelde and Ryan O’Marra late last season, and the ongoing situation with Gilbert Brule, spelled TRADE.

Cogliano’s ongoing contract situation may have had a slight bearing on the deal, too. He’s filed for salary arbitration with the hearing July 21. The Oilers may not have wanted to pay him, say, $1.5 million to $1.7 million if they weren’t sure where he would play or how much. The Ducks, who likely see him as their third centre after Ryan Getzlaf and Saku Koivu, can sign him. They’ve been talking about trading for Cogliano for over a year, according to GM Bob Murray, looking for somebody to skate like Todd Marchant, who just retired to a pro development coaching job with the club.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Things didn’t work out as expected for Cogliano following his 45 point rookie season in 2007-08. It’ll be interesting to see how things unfold for him in Anaheim.


MONTREAL GAZETTE: reports former Canadiens captain Vincent Damphousse will make his first court appearance in October in a case where he’s accused of conjugal violence:

“The 43-year-old faces six assault charges at the Montreal courthouse following a complaint filed by his estranged wife Allana Henderson earlier this year. He was not required to be present for Tuesday’s court date but his lawyer Michel Dorval was informed the retired hockey player is required to be present, for the first time, for his next date, on October 11…

Five days after a criminal complaint was filed against Damphousse, on April 14, 2011, Henderson was charged with assaulting Damphousse and with stealing a briefcase from him. The charges were filed while the couple were in the early stages of divorce proceedings, also at the Montreal courthouse.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not a very pleasant situation. Remember, folks, innocent until proven guilty, so let’s not rush to judgement on this.

No news on the Calgary Flames today.