Leafs GM Brian Burke lashes out at front-loaded contracts, former Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay slams Jets management, Ales Hemsky skates at Oilers prospect camp, Jeff Tambellini heads to Switzerland, P.K.Subban’s trip to Haiti was an eye-opener, Flames goalie Leland Irving practices patience, and an update on the Sens restricted free agents.


THE NATIONAL POST: reports Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke is no fan of offering free agents heavily front-loaded contract designed to garner a more cap-friendly contract.

“These deals that are front-loaded and have a small amount in the back end are, in my opinion, designed to circumvent the salary cap. I won’t do them. I never have. I’m not going to.”

“Those contracts are accepted by the league on the basis that the players are going to serve the full term. That’s the only basis that they’re accepted by the league. If there is any understanding that the player is not going to serve the full term, they wouldn’t be accepted by the league. I personally do not believe the players are going to serve the term of their contracts. I’m not going to name names, but I do not believe players are going to play in 10 years who have signed them, or nine years, especially when the compensation for the final two years is one or two million dollars. I’ll be very anxious to see the explanations that occur when these players don’t serve out these contracts. That’s why I don’t do them. I don’t believe the players are going to serve the term. If that fact were known, I don’t think the NHL would accept them either.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Burke’s caught some flak for that opinion, but rest assured he’s not the only general manager who feels the same way. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is also believed to frown upon these kind of contracts. Don’t be surprised if Bettman and Burke spearhead a move during the next round of CBA talks to close that particular loophole.


WINNIPEG SUN: reports former Atlanta Thrashers head coach Craig Ramsay slammed True North Sports and Entertainment for not informing him of their intentions to seek a new head coach, claiming the organization just left he and the rest of the Thrashers coaching staff hanging.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: True North Sports and Entertainment had every right to change the Thrashers management and coaching staff, but if Ramsay and his staff were indeed left waiting only to be told their services weren’t needed, that would be a rather crappy thing to do. Hopefully, we’ll hear True North’s side of the story soon.


EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson reports Oilers veteran winger Ales Hemsky skated with the young prospects yesterday at the Oilers development camp to test his surgically repaired shoulders. He spent June in the Czech Republic but will spend the rest of this month in Edmonton rehabbing his shoulders, then will return to the Czech Republic to skate with his hometown’s club team for a while.  Hemsky said if it were up to him, he’d finish his career with the Oilers, but Matheson points out a new contract (Hemsky’s in the final season of his $4.1 million per season deal) could cost an average of $5 million per season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think the Oilers management will see how well Hemsky performs this upcoming season before making any serious contract discussions with him.


VANCOUVER PROVINCE: Jim Jamieson reports former Canucks forward Jeff Tambellini has signed a three year contract with Zurich of the Swiss League, where he’ll play on the club’s top line, rather than seeing sporadic fourth line duty as he did with the Canucks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As one columnist recently put it, Tambellini was too good for the AHL, but not quite good enough to see regular duty beyond the fourth line in the NHL.  


MONTREAL GAZETTE: Pat Hickey reports Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban is currently in Haiti with former Hab Georges Laraque to raise awareness of the ongoing problems in that country following the devastating earthquake which struck that tiny island nation a year and a half ago.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hockey fans willing to donate can follow these two links, which were provided by Hickey in the aforementioned story: “Hockey fans wishing to donate to Hockey for Haiti can find details at www.nhlpa. com or www.worldvision.ca.”


CALGARY HERALD: Vicki Hall reports Flames goalie Leland Irving and his agent mulled an offer from Europe but opted to remain with the Flames organization, signing a one-year, two-way contract. Irving said he’ll continue to bide his time, develop his game and wait for an opportunity to join the Flames.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless Irving outplays Henrik Karlsson, he’ll start the season in the minors. 


OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Senators have re-signed forward Erik Condra to a two-year deal, while contract talks with Bobby Butler are continuing. Butler could sign his qualifying offer by the end of July if he and the Senators fail to reach agreement on a new contract. UFA forward Ryan Shannon meanwhile is getting lots of interest from other clubs, while defenseman David Hale is expected to play in Europe next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  With the depth draining out of this summer’s UFA pool, Shannon could garner even more interest in the coming days. I wouldn’t be surprised if he signs a new NHL contract by week’s end.