When two of the Oilers' top executives visited Quebec City and met with the mayor earlier this week, it set off all kinds of rumors. However, the Oilers insist they are not readying to leave Edmonton for another home city in Canada.
Team president Patrick LaForge and hockey operations president Kevin Lowe met with the mayor to discuss fundraising strategy for a new arena in the city. Considering Quebec City has been pining for another NHL team since the Nordiques left for Denver in 1995, it was easy to see why the speculation started.
"I have no idea how [the story] started, but I'd be interested in knowing how it did," LaForge said. "We have no plans to move the team. We didn't discuss it, it wasn't on the table, it never came up. We told people we were going to go from Ottawa to Quebec City and have coffee with the mayor. We were there for 50 minutes, and before we even got there, there were headlines that we were moving the team."
Oilers owner Daryl Katz has hinted that he would consider moving the franchise and Quebec City is looking to build a new arena. The Oilers are also hoping to get a new arena to replace Rexall Place. However, LaForge denied the Oilers used the Quebec City visit as an attempt to spark more interest in public funding for a new arena in Edmonton.
"We're not trying to fan the flames but I think we reserve the right to go and meet with people who are doing the same thing that we do, catch up on their plans and share with them what we've done so far and ask for their advice," LaForge said. "I think we got some."
Interim coach Jack Capuano hasn't made much of an impact on the Islanders in the first seven games since being promoted from Bridgeport of the American Hockey League to replace the fired Scott Gordon. The Islanders have gone 1-4-2 under Capuano, though the one victory did end a 14-game winless streak.
It would seem that Capuano has little chance of getting the job permanently but he also realizes he is in no position to even wonder about it.
"I really never thought of that," Capuano said. "[General manager] Garth [Snow] and [owner Charles] Wang have given me an opportunity to come in under sudden circumstances. Obviously, my goal right now is to stay focused and try to get this team back on the winning track. As far as myself, I really don't look ahead at the possibilities."
Because of injuries, especially on the blue line, the Islanders have been forced to use many of the same players that Capuano coached at Bridgeport. He believes the youngsters have held up well mentally despite playing in a losing atmosphere.
"They're good kids, they understand losing is not fun," Capuano said. "I think mentally and physically [the winless streak] took a toll. Since I've been here, the mood has been good. I have no problem with their focus or preparation."
Senators owner Eugene Melnyk said last weekend that he was not considering firing either general manager Bryan Murray or head coach Cory Clouston. However, there is speculation that Melnyk might change his mind as the Senators continue to play poorly.
The Senators have lost four of their last five games and eight of their last 11. They have also scored just six goals in the last five games and 17 in the last 11.
"There's not a lot you can do other than keep working hard and look in the mirror, make a difference," Clouston said. "If you're not doing what you need to be doing at the level you need to be doing [it], you've got to take responsibility on your shoulders. We've got too many fragile players right now. As soon as something goes wrong or we don't get that first goal or that bounce, we don't have that push back we need, that confidence or that extra effort that we need."
Allan Walsh, agent for Martin Havlat, the Wild's highest-paid player, e-mailed the Minneapolis Star-Tribune in late October wondering other team had a player with his client's talent "wilting on the vine." Since that cyber-missive, Havlat has scored 19 points in 17 games, including 16 in the last 11.
Havlat's playing time has risen since Walsh hit the send button. However, Wild coach Todd Richards said nothing changed because of Walsh's complaint.
"I don't know if [Walsh's] comments were to try to get me going or to try to get his client going, but it worked," Richards said. "But I'm not coaching any differently. I'm not doing anything differently. I'm not handling Marty any differently. To me, Marty's elevated his play."
Havlat, when asked if he's working harder said, simply, "No."